Monday, December 08, 2008

Weird Ways Of Celebrating Women's Suffrage in Britain

I've been reading the U.K. Guardian about the eightieth anniversary of women's suffrage there. This piece has a feminist tone, a sad tone about the recent lack of any real progress, the tone of someone who feels rather alone in a world where women are supposed to offer to suck dick, work as Girl Fridays and then stay at home with their children. But it also has some interesting ideas about feminism perhaps coming towards its next wider awakening. I want to write about that more in the future.

If you go from that article to the survey about gender roles it mentions you are in for something rather smelly. This graph summarizes the findings. Click on it to see a larger version.

I was unable to find the actual survey anywhere, which means that I have no idea how the people were picked for questioning, how many they were and how leading the questions might have been. Thus, I can't tell whether the findings are easily generalizable or not. But note that the most traditional attitudes are often held by the youngest respondents, those who don't yet know that they are unlikely to even have the choice of just having one parent out in the labor force. That they hold such stereotypically sexist views is a bit disheartening, in any case.

I skipped from that to a story about how emasculated men now feel in Britain. A snippet:

The majority of almost 2,000 men aged 16 to 65 questioned by OnePoll, an independent market research company, admitted struggling to feel confident about their place in society. About half confessed to feeling most insecure when at work, while another 40 per cent also felt inadequate during nights out with friends.

All those questioned by the survey, commissioned by Braun, admitted to feeling increasingly emasculated by women and said their feelings of inadequacy soar when women are present.

ALL of them? That's just not at all likely. Either the survey is an utterly crappy one or the writer of this summary doesn't understand it.

If you take these three stories together (and add the title of a science article on the effect of environmental pollution of men:
"It's official: Men really are the weaker sex"), you might be left with a rather bad taste in your mouth about the way women are viewed in Britain, especially if you remember that the Guardian is probably the newspaper most likely to lend column space to feminist writings. Well, I was left with such a taste.

It seemed worth writing about, both to give those of you who are not female a glimpse into the kind of stuff I read almost every day, the kind of stuff which probably just floats past you (unless it's about the feminisation of boys, perhaps), the kind of stuff which just makes you feel down for no discernible reason until you become aware of all those little messages us girls get all the time.

So you can go through just one newspaper on one day (or one newspaper website at least) and what do you learn? That British young women are sexual objects defined by lap dancing and porn? That more more young Britons want women to stay at home than was the case five years ago? That British men are emasculated, based on a survey and physically threatened, too? Is any of this really true?

I don't know. But I do know the message that is being transmitted here and it's not one I treasure.