The slow but sure creep of patriarchy
Russia this week passed a law making it okay to beat your wife, as long as you don’t draw blood or break her bones. Oh, and you can only hit her once a year.
This is a chilling example of the patriarchal creep – and it will probably get a whole lot worse the world over.
Misogyny has been emboldened by the election of Donald Trump. The beginning of the dial-back on reproductive rights in the US was the first of many signs of the grab to put women back in their place. With a self-confessed pussy-grabber and sexual predator in the White House (who objectifies women at every opportunity and has made lewd comments about his own daughter), the world is going to become a whole lot scarier again for women and girls.
Unfortunately, the Women’s March on January 21 exposed the elephant in the room again – the outrage isn’t mainstream enough in the male population (kudos to the men who marched), and there are always sexist apologists ready with the “our women are better off than their women argument”.
The most appalling example of comparative misogyny is British TV presenter Piers Morgan. He put out this tweet: “My Men’s March will start by the Saudi, not US, embassy. We will show our masculine strength by protesting at THEIR treatment of women.”
In South Africa, violence against women and children is a major social problem – and, as the US is finding out, prejudice and what is acceptable trickles down from the top. Our own president has infamously made all sorts of comments over the years that clearly violate the spirit of gender equality. Enshrined in our Constitution, gender rights might exist on paper, but in the lives of real women, they are a pipe dream.
What we all need is for the men – all of them – to stop paying lip service to gender equality and start recognising that their privilege means they should be at the front of the march, not finding reasons to slag off the women leading the resistance.
But most of all, we need to get to the point where women who speak their minds are celebrated and given an equal share of space to be heard – a place where gender no longer matters in the division of labour at home; where pay isn’t determined by whether you have a vagina or not; and where women hold half the decisionmaking roles in the world because they represent half of the population.
We are light years away from this utopia, but a good place to start would be to ensure women are safe in their own homes – a right Russia has just taken away as the war on women hots up.
The world is going to become a whole lot scarier again for women and girls