Happy International Women’s Day!
I’ve been thinking a bit about everyday sexism and what’s starting to look like a resurgence of feminism (and celebrating among other things the fact that I can buy Lego). And recalling a South African study on risk factors for domestic violence (and NB this particular study only focused on violence against women) that someone pointed out to me several years ago. Here’s a line from the abstract:
“The findings suggest that domestic violence is most strongly related to the status of women in a society and to the normative use of violence in conflict situations or as part of the exercise of power”. (Jewkes et al 2002, if you want to look it up).
When you say it it sounds obvious. Domestic violence, of which the large majority (and yes, I know not all) of victims are women, is most likely to happen in contexts where there’s a lot of violence and not a lot of respect for women.
Then you think about it and it sounds less obvious. Domestic violence is not something that goes away if you fix bad relationships, reduce alcohol abuse or build up people’s self-esteem. All of those are extremely good and important things to do and we should do more of them.
But we should also not pretend that there is no connection between ordinary everyday low-key sexism on the one hand, and incidents of violence against women on the other.
Well, blow me down, the personal is political; who’d ‘a thunk it?
So yes actually, the men who stand up against sexism in their workplaces are not just being “politically correct”; and the women who refuse to accept sexist heckling as part of the game are not being oversensitive; and that song in the Oscars ceremony might perhaps have been funny, but it’s not silly to care about it. And so on.