How many women have you listened to recently? Outside of family and friends, you probably haven’t anywhere near as much as you’ve heard from men. You’re reading the words of a man right now (the irony is not lost, don’t worry). Newspaper front pages are written by a majority of men. An even greater number of prominent articles feature quotes from men. The media gives the public what they want to hear (it’s how money is made), so it is only a (albeit warped) reflection of society.
You may not like them, but politicians shape our country on behalf of everyone. How many female MPs can you name? When 50% of society is female and 20% of MPs are, parliament is a poor representation of the people it supposedly voices. As a society, we need to listen to women just as much as we do men, regardless of the scale of discussion or importance of debate. It is the only way to achieve true gender equality.
Gender equality isn’t even ignored by politicians. Michael Meacher, MP for Oldham, gave a talk at DMU about the economy that featured passing remarks about the pay gap. It seems that this issue would not continue if those in power had a policy that would change the thinking of society, and not just propose new legislature.
Recently it has been revealed that off all American CEOs, there are more men named ‘John’ than all female ones put together. Although the UK is not America, it does seem at times that we like to model ourselves after our cooler, younger cousin, so this is a worrying trend.
Then there are the more chilling figures that regard violence towards women. Well over a million women suffer a form of domestic violence a year in the UK, and 85,000 rapes are reported. That’s more than 9 an hour.
The root cause of all of this is simply an inherent lack of respect. Generation after generation of men are listened to and given more time than a woman with the same voice. It even shows up in a current Vodaphone advert that shows a new dad revealing to his father that he has a son – the grandfather “hoped” the child would be male. In a truly equal society, only health and happiness would be wished upon a newborn, not a penis. Like the vast majority of the world’s problems, I believe that respect for women can be manufactured through education. It might be too late for those set in their ways, but the minds of children are more malleable. It could be a simple case of teaching a balance of men and women (personally, I don’t remember being taught about any women other than Marie Curie) in addition to redressing the balance of voices heard in the media.
It is really important for equality that men are more aware and take action, for the common good. Look to the #HeForShe campaign and pledge your support. Respect everyone without thought.
I wish you all a pleasant and respectful International Women’s Day. International Men’s Day is 19th November: in the name of equality and as you probably asked.