It would appear, to my great surprise and sorrow, that my previous post failed to change the patriarchal attitudes of Britain’s people. In fact, one could argue you’re getting worse.
Why yes. Everyone is still talking about the Savile affair, weeks after the story broke. This is, largely, a good thing. But how we are talking about it is not. We are talking about the procedural problems in the BBC. We’re talking about who is, and should be, the new Director General, and how he should restructure bureaucracy in such a way that certain newsworthy stories don’t get buried. We’re talking about what an idiot Philip Schofield is. We’re talking about how terrible it must be for Lord McAlpine to be falsely accused, and the repercussions this may or may not have on Twitter libel.
WHAT THE FUCK!?!
I am a news addict, and in the past week I have seen:
NOTHING on victim support efforts
NOTHING on institutionalised sexism in the media
NOTHING on who actually did abuse kids in Clywd and Gwynnedd.
I know that “investigations are ongoing” but seriously, is arresting Garry Glitter and some old comedian enough? On the contrary, if not one but three major public figures were doing this, that Triples the need for British society to ask itself some serious questions about gender equality, women’s rights and rape culture.
“Oh but Jaime, that all happened years and years ago, it’s all better now,” said Mr (and it’s invariably Mr) Headintheclouds.
No you clot, it’s right now. This isn’t an issue limited to the 80s, or to the BBC, or to the media, or to the media and certain children’s hospitals, or to the media, certain children’s hospitals and Rochdale. It’s our country, now.
How do I know this?
Oh, only because the government published a paper this week saying there have been 2,400 child abuse victims over the past 14 months, with another potential 16,500 this year. That comes on the back of the Rochdale child grooming scandal and the earlier Bradford story.
Occasional newsreaders might argue, “OK, it’s current, but it’s basically all Pakistani men.”
No, that’s not it. It’s perfectly possible that Pakistani men do it more than average, but even a brief glance at the figures shows that Caucasian men are the greatest-represented group.
“Surely this is just about a few sickos?” asks Mr Headintheclouds. “Noone I know is like that, it’s got nothing to do with me.”
Well Mr Headingtheclouds, have you ever been on TrueLad.com? Someone linked me to it yesterday, where I was delighted to see a badly-photoshopped picture of Emma Watson naked, complete with plethoral comments from Lads describing a variety of legal and illegal things they would like to do to her. It reminded me of my time in Oxford, when certain students would deliberately go clubbing with the intention of either following Watson around, or of actually groping her.
“Well that’s just toffs and idiots!” says Mr Headintheclouds, ignoring both Oxford’s social makeup, and the readership of TrueLad or UniLad. Mr Headintheclouds then restrains himself, knowing how pissed off I’d be if he added, “Besides, she’s asking for it. She’s famous and hot – if she goes out drinking she should expect it.”
I toy with the idea of walking off, but instead resort to pointing out to him that 1 in 4 women experiences domestic violence some time in their lives. That’s quite a lot of the people you know, right?
If you aren’t following, I’m making an anti-patriarchy case here. I’m saying that the way mainstream Britain thinks and talks about women (and not just young or attractive women) is inherently chauvinist, and contributes to an atmosphere in which the fringes feel permitted to abuse. That’s the danger, in particular, of ‘rape jokes’. Probably 99.9% of people making rape jokes do not have the slightest intent to ever rape anybody. BUT. But a derogatory, objectifying attitude towards women and sex in general is cultivated; it’s augmented by hyper-sexualised women in the media, on the internet and in your alone-time fantasies.
This article makes a detailed argument showing how far we are from gender equality. I really urge you to read it, because it has a nice survey showing injustice and disparity in pretty much every aspect of ‘Modern Britain’. I’d add to it only the current fame of Nadine Dorries, who has gone on I’m a Celebrity specifically to argue for reducing the abortion limit and for promoting abstinence as government sexual education policy.
This brings me nicely onto the Church of England’s decision not to allow female bishops. Being a non-Christian, I cannot criticise their decision if they genuinely think that their deity doesn’t want female bishops. What I can criticise is that the Church is still remarkably powerful in this country, especially in ‘soft power’ terms since prayer is supposedly held in all school assemblies every week. It frightens me that such a backwards institution has any influence over the general population, let alone influence on all kids. These are people who, however liberal their interpretation of the Bible, essentially support a whole faith system with commodifies women as economic-and-childbirthing-units. That’s not exactly helping fight the patriarchy.
The second reason, explained eloquently here, is that 26 Church of England bishops are a mandatory requirement in the House of Lords, which remains an important legislative body. If all those bishops are necessarily male, that means our government, indeed our entire state-system, is skewed towards men. Of course, I want Lords Spiritual out of the HOL as soon as possible, and think that should and could happen tomorrow, regardless of what other reforms the HOL needs, but in the meantime, the Church’s decision means that Christian chauvinism is temporarily the concern of every British citizen.
These aren’t problems that can be solved with stronger prison sentencing, more women in cabinet, more women in Spaghetti-worshipping positions, giving two quid to Children in Need or more paedophiles being shot at dawn. This issue is one that confronts every one of us – the imperative on people to speak out when they see or experience sexism, to make a point of explain when an action is not OK and why, to boycott ridiculous magazines and especially, especially, to never visit TrueLad.
Not even ironically.