Lara Prendergast Lara Prendergast

Sexism is ‘in your face’ in Britain because it’s up for discussion

Sexism is more ‘in your face’ in Britain than in other countries, a United Nations investigator has claimed. I can see why the UN’s Rashida Manjoo might think this – for better or worse, sexism is a topic that features frequently in British publications. I imagine the Pakistani, Egyptian and Sudanese press don’t give it quite as much coverage.

I’m going to assume this was the official’s logic: we write about it a lot, ergo it must be prevalent. Her research would have been easy. All those tweets about #EverydaySexism. A cabinet with fewer women than men. Page Three!

We’ve got a problem. Send help.

Except that we really don’t. Feminism has reached its fourth wave, and by and large, women are doing ok. There’s work to be done – domestic violence is still widespread, and there could be many more female CEOs in the FTSE 100. But let’s imagine the claims of #EverydaySexism from women in countries like Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Mali: #GangRape; #Stonings; #AccusationsOfWitchcraft; #ExtremeGenitalMutilation. I know where I’d rather live.

We’re used to reading about sexism in Britain nowadays. Occasionally, people panic, and treat something that is simply infantile with national outrage – take the response to the Facebook group Women Who Eat on Tubes. But collectively (and from points all along the political spectrum), Britain’s scribes do a good job smoking out foul play. Genital mutilation – which has no place in any country – has been forcefully criticised, and yesterday, a landmark trial began. Too late, yes, but at least some action is being taken.

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