Thursday, 27 January 2011

Woman is (still) the nigger of the world

"Woman is the nigger of the world" sang John Lennon in 1972. He was right. At that time women were second class citizens in almost all societies, lacking equal rights. In Europe and the USA, that is meant to have changed. In the UK the Sex Discrimination Act was introduced in 1975. This was supposed to create a level playing field between the sexes and end gender discrimination at work. There is no doubt that things have improved here since then. Women have access to jobs that they could never have dreamt of back in the 1970s, much greater independence, and a higher status generally - but that doesn't mean that things are hunky dory.

This was well illustrated by the recent Sky football debacle, in which the presenter Richard Keys and pundit Andy Gray were overheard badmouthing a female assistant referee, Sian Massey. The lineswoman made a good decision about a potential offside during the recent Wolves vs Liverpool game, but, according to the pair women don't understand the offside rule and made a number of disparaging remarks about her.

This kind of 'locker room' attitude is still prevalent amongst many men in the UK, who refuse to accept female equality and still think women's place is in the kitchen and the bedroom. I was unable to post earlier this week, but if I had been able to I would have said that the pair should be unceremoniously booted off the air for good, just as they would have been if they had made the same remarks about a black person. Of course that didn't happen immediately but Gray was subsequently sacked and Keys has resigned.

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Nobody should assume that the kind of prejudices exhibited by Gray and Keys have disappeared. There are people who would like to drag us back to dark days before these prejudices were effectively challenged in the UK. There are still huge injustices all over the world. The struggle for racial, gender and sexual equality goes on all over the world, and must be maintained.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree - Gray and Keys are a disgrace. But sexism is rife. I have been subjected to some appalling behaviour in my union role, by male union colleagues. They dismiss this - and excuse their behaviour - as 'banter'. But when a man belittles a woman, he is showing his true views of equality, and if a woman can't get that in her union, or in her workplace (be that a line on a pitch, a shop or a warehouse), then there's a LONG way to go!!

Jilly