What are examples of the most obvious inequalities between men and women today, in the UK and internationally?
November 20, 2012 4:07 AM   Subscribe

What are examples of the most obvious inequalities between men and women today, in the UK and internationally?

I am setting up a website that hopes to promote the term ‘feminism’ as a pluralistic, divergent, multi-branched movement. The goal is to make more people comfortable describing themselves as feminists. A particular focus would be people who broadly support equality between the sexes, but might be uncomfortable describing themselves as feminists, due to the extensive stereotyping of feminists in the media (and society in general) as male-hostile single issue fanatics.

I want the site to have a series of statements in the main body area of the homepage. These statements should be about the most obvious inequalities and violence against women, statements that people would in overwhelming number oppose, even if they might be wary of describing themselves as feminists . For example:

“Female Genital Mutilation is carried out in over 25 countries across the world, often without anaesthesia by a person with no medical training.”

The idea is then to have the visitor choose [I am happy with this state of affairs] or [This is not acceptable]. If they click on the first option, another statement is shown with another statement. If they click on the second button, then a short section of the site loads telling them that regardless of the steps they think people should take to reduce/eliminate the activity in the statement, they are a feminist. It then links to other pages about the inclusive nature of the term ‘feminist’ and how the should feel happy using it to describe themselves.

So I am looking for statements like the one above, that the vast majority of people would agree are totally unacceptable.

This is a UK-based focussed site, so within-UK issues are particularly appreciated.

[If you have problems with my methodology, or the whole plan, or even want to help(!), please MeMail me rather than commenting below. Thanks!]
posted by Cantdosleepy to Society & Culture (9 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
You picked a good day - the Church of England is voting today on whether to allow women to become bishops.
posted by pipeski at 4:24 AM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

this gives some hard data
posted by Wilder at 5:29 AM on November 20, 2012

At the risk of being a man lecturing a woman about how to set up a website on feminism, I do think it is worth being clear on whether you are looking at gender inequality as it disadvantages women or gender inequality as it disadvantages either sex. The attractiveness of the first approach is that it is more focused, and, of course, the starting point of feminism is that women typically get a rougher deal. The attractiveness of the second approach is that it arguably speaks to a wider audience, is a clearer space to talk around, and by talking about "gender inequality" rather than "feminism" it gives more angles to which to talk about gender-based inequality.

In either case, however, there are lots of data points and one way to look at it are some of the big headings. It is not an exhaustive list by any means, and the points are not mutually exclusive:

- Crime [high level and lower level crimes against women, conviction rates, treatment of sexual offences, forced marriage, prison issues]
- Politics [representation (especially at Cabinet level), policy making, women's issues at a national level]
- Economics [income, pay gaps, savings, pensions, insurance, productivity]
- Business [career progression, glass ceilings and board representation, workplace harassment, under or overrepresentation, barriers to entry, maternity, workplace policy]
- Society [attitudes towards women, attitudes of women, lifestyle, expectations, role of mothers, gender stereotyping etc, gender segregation v integration, marriage, divorce, childcare, LGBT issues, sexualisation of minors]
- Media [portrayal of women, representation, women's media, tabloid media, exploitation]
- Religion [attitudes towards women, misogyny, representation, role of women, women clerics]
- Medicine and health [genital mutilation, abortion, research for female disorders like breast cancer, health outcomes, diagnosis and treatment rates, disease prevalence etc]
- Education [outcomes, trends, barriers, results]

An additional issue is whether you want this to be UK-focused or have more of an international feel. For example, the issue of genital mutilation in the UK is clearly an issue, but is an order of magnitude greater and more dangerous elsewhere. I.e. deciding how much of a UK focus you have will determine both the audience you talk to, the relevance of the data you present and also how you present it.
posted by MuffinMan at 6:12 AM on November 20, 2012

There are a couple of things.

Number and Percentage of Women CEO's of Fortune 500 Companies.

The other thing is the percentage of single parent families, headed by females, that are living in poverty.

The Pay Gap between men and women.

I could go on and on.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:46 AM on November 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Vagenda might be a good place to look at media related issues in the UK. Gossip magazines are a good start - Closer, for example, will always include a woman's dress size, and usually her height, in articles regardless of subject. They won't in articles about men. If you get the tube, there are two freesheets aimed at either gender - the male one is a funny, general interest magazine, the female one is partly focused on shopping and partly on thing X As A Woman. (Though the upside is that there are some interesting issues brought to light).

Another, less serious/political issue: female comedians. There are very few female stand-ups, it's fine to tell knob gags but women tend to be pigeonholed as talking about their periods all the time, magazines still run articles on 'Can women be funny'? When Bridesmaids was released here, perhaps because Kristen Wiig was unknown, the coverage was very much of the tone 'hey, women! being funny! also, rude!' whereas, say, Ted - which is about a toy bear being rude and funny - got less interest.

Islam and women is a big issue in the UK I think as well given the number of second and third generation Asian immigrants - non-Muslims think the veil is subjugation, Muslim women say they choose to wear it or feel more comfortable as a practitioner of Islam with a scarf or veil, feminism seems to be split between various flavours of 'you can't tell women how they ought to dress'. I know this is also a highly controversial issue in France.

There's also an interesting thread on the Blue about the porn star James Deen which talks about women's responses to porn - this ties in with the current resurgence in campaigning against Page 3.
posted by mippy at 7:32 AM on November 20, 2012

Also, advertising: more men are complaining about negative/stereotyped portrayals of men in advertising. Whether this is a result of changing gender roles, a push for equality or a men's rights initiative, it's definitely a thing.
posted by mippy at 7:37 AM on November 20, 2012

On the topic of FGM, I thought I'd point towards this very interesting article comparing French and British policy differences. The French do some things which would be utterly unthinkable in Britain, for instance mandatory inspections of the genitalia of young girls, which in Britain would certainly be considered a violation of the girls rights, and something deeply offensive to the Muslim community, but they have also been far more successful in eradicating the practise.

Also, on the topic of female CEOs, I think there are European rules which have recently been approved.
posted by Marlinspike at 9:08 AM on November 20, 2012

I think what's meant by that is that it does a disservice to both men and women.

Custody laws being an example - I'm simplifying - the assumption is that the child is always better with the mother, which also has the suggestion that men are not good at parenting. Most primary school teachers are female, perhaps because of the image teaching has as a nurturing,caring profession, which means that men are discouraged from going into teaching (I knew someone years ago who didn't feel he fitted into the environment) and young children have fewer positive male role-models.

The idea that only women can be nurturing also gives rise to the idea that all paedophiles are men, so therefore men who actively want to work with children must be a bit dodgy. And that only men are proponents of domestic abuse, which means male victims don't feel comfortable speaking out in case they are not believed or are seen as weak.

Sexism and stereotyping of women is a bad thing for men too, and I think that's what OP is trying to do with their site.
posted by mippy at 9:10 AM on November 20, 2012

Sorry, that was a response to a deleted comment - deleted as I typed - about how straight white guys are discriminated against - just to put my post in context.
posted by mippy at 9:11 AM on November 20, 2012

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