Send This To Someone Who Doesn't Believe Sexism Exists
It's alive and kicking in the UK too.
Here in the UK, people like to claim that sexism doesn’t exist anymore. Girls have an equal right to education, women have powerful jobs (big-up Theresa May) and British artists like Little Mix and Dua Lipa are some of the most influential people in the global music industry. It’s all equal opportunity now, right?
While women in the UK are more liberated than they are in many parts of the world (thank f*ck), the UK is still massively affected by sexism. In fact, in some areas it’s so commonplace that it has become invisible or the norm.
The stats speak for themselves, so if you come across a non-believer just send them this. Here’s why we deffo still need women and men to speak out for equality…
1. Sexual harassment is happening in schools
School is meant to be a place where you’re empowered by learning, not where you’re made to feel intimidated and treated like a second-class citizen.
Over a third of girls at mixed-sex schools in the UK have been sexually harassed at school, and 64% of teachers hear sexist language on at least a weekly basis.
2. But there’s sexual harassment happening everywhere
66% of girls aged 14-21 have experienced unwanted sexual attention or harassment in a public place, 50% of women have been sexually harassed at work or a place of study, and almost one third of teenage girls have been sexually harassed online.
It’s still not being cracked down on enough. ‘Upskirting’ (the act of taking a picture up a girl’s skirt without her consent) only just became illegal in the UK. Literally, like, one month ago...
3. Women are getting paid less
‘Fun’ fact: the biggest sport gender gap is in football where the difference between the average prize money they offer men and women is 21.5 million pounds.... Basically, the average male footballer receives 40 times as much prize money as his female counterpart.
4. Politics is f*cked
In 2016 women made up only 29% of MPs. Plus, Theresa May might be Prime Minister now but she's only the second female UK Prime minister. Ever. In the history of UK politics. All the rest were men.
5. Girls aren’t happy with how they look
According to the Good Childhood Report, girls are reporting being less happy with their appearance and life as a whole than boys are. A 2018 GirlGuiding survey also found that 62% of girls aged 11-21 would like to lose weight and 52% said they sometimes feel ashamed of their looks, because they’re not like girls and women in the media.
Our society puts way too much emphasis on women having to look good, and it’s damaging.
6. Appearance pressures are affecting girls’ mental health
Appearance pressures can also turn into serious mental health issues. More girls than boys are self-harming. In a study, more than a fifth of 14-year-old girls in the UK said they have self-harmed, and it was indicated that worrying about their appearance was a big influence, as well as gender stereotypes.
Eating disorders are also much more common among girls and women than boys and men, with the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence estimating that 89% of those affected by an eating disorder are female.
7. Women are experiencing violence in relationships
One in four women experiences domestic violence in her lifetime and two women in the UK are killed every week by a current or former partner in England and Wales.
Domestic violence happens to men too but to a lesser extent - between 2013-15, four times more women than men were killed by their partner or ex-partner.
8. Periods are still seen as embarrassing
48% of girls said in a Plan International UK study that they are embarrassed by their periods, 71% have felt embarrassed buying sanitary products and 49% have missed an entire day of school because of their periods.
There’s still so much stigma around the very natural and normal process of menstruation due to periods being sidelined as a ‘woman’s issue’ that many men don’t want to talk about or deal with. Women aren’t banished to small outdoor huts while on their periods like they are in Nepal, but the stigma in the UK ultimately comes from the same place.
9. We live in a rape culture
Unfortunately sexual harassment is just the tip of the iceberg called UK’s rape culture. Of the 60,000 women and girls Rape Crisis supports each year, they say only 15% will ever report what’s happened to them to the police because they’re scared they won’t be believed.
Even if they are believed they may well be blamed for what happened because of what they were wearing, how many people they’ve slept with in the past or because they’ve been drinking. It’s called victim-blaming, and it’s a big part of rape culture.
10. FGM is actually a thing
The NSPCC estimate that around 137,000 women and girls are affected by FGM (female genital mutilation) in England and Wales. FGM is a totally non-medical surgery mutilating girls’ genitals, and is done to control female sexuality.
It’s also straight-up illegal abuse, and can lead to severe and long-lasting physical and emotional damage. And it very much still happens in the UK.
Sexism still exists and impacts everyone in the UK, but we all have a role in fighting against it. It’s up to guys to educate themselves about sexism, call out sexist behaviour in other guys and not stand for those attitudes that reduce women to less than people. And it’s up to women to speak out, and support each other whenever they can.
For now, share this with someone else who doesn’t believe sexism exists, check out activist and founder of the Everyday Sexism Project Laura Bates’ top tips on what you can do to help, and (to give you hope) check out 17 amazing moments for women that have happened since last International Women’s Day. We’re making progress, even if it’s slow.