The British Boys Club

22 Apr

In case you missed it: Great-Britain is the most sexist country in the world. At least, that’s what UN Rapporteur on Violence against Women Rashida Manjoo said last week. And boy, did she cause a stir.
According to Manjoo sexism is deeply rooted in British society. A ‘boys club culture’, as she called it, where media sexualise the female body, leading, among other things, to routine harrassment of girls. The statistics are shocking: one out of three British teenage girls says they have experienced some form op groping in school.
Is it really that bad? Are the British boys really such beasts? Yes, there are lads and stag nights. Yes, there are still boobs on page three of The Sun. And I’m sure there are British construction workers who shout at the first skirt in sight.
But to say that it’s less bad in other countries? For most Brits, that goes a step too far. Cause if the UK is the least female friendly country in the world, what about Yemen, where underaged girls are forced to marry old men? Or Manjoo’s native South Africa, where an average of six women report a case of rape every hour?
And that’s how a debate about violence against women turned into a Where-Things-Are-Much-Worse competion. Quite a shame, since it left the really important topics undiscussed. Like how one out of four UK women is a victim of violence, or why two women a week are killed by their partners.
Ms Manjoo’s bold statement derailed the debate on the position of women and girls in British society. People who agreed with her said: told you so! While the sceptics dismiss it all as bullocks. What’s left is polarisation, just like last year’s remarks by that other UN envoy on Zwarte Piet.
Manjoo should have known better. But if she insists on ranking the most sexist countries in the world, she should try to get behind the wheel in Saudi Arabia. And then, we’ll talk.

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