I know I bang on a lot in this blog about the problems women have getting their voices heard (I nearly wrote “women’s problems getting their voices heard”, as though the problems belong to us and are somehow created by us, rather than by the society we live in), but I do find it interesting, the way this plays into the whole cycle of perpetuating gender discrimination.
Start from the fact that women find it difficult to get their voices heard, both literally and metaphorically. I have written a lot on here about men’s tendency to interrupt women, to talk over them and to ignore them. I began this series of posts writing about Caroline Criado Perez, the journalist who was hideously trolled on Twitter; she started her career as an activist by setting up an organisation to counteract the woefully low representation of women amongst the experts who are invited to comment by the media*.
Remember that we all have a bit of tendency, perfectly understandable, to regard our own problems as more substantial and ‘problematic’ than those of others. And then add in the fact that men, or at least, some men, have something of a tendency to regard women’s complaints as somewhat over exaggerated, and thus they dial down their estimation of the severity of the original problem. All of this results in the dismissal of complaints about the long-term systemic exploitation and oppression (ooh! Heavy language alert!) of half the human race by the other half as “Not That Big A Deal”.
I mean, imagine how the men in the world would react to being told that they were about to lose around one sixth of their pay every year and would be required to work from 8th November to 31st December, for free. Do we think they would say “Yeah, OK, fair enough, it’s regrettable but we understand that it’s too difficult to put right all at once, let’s work towards getting us that money back over the next fifty years or so”. No, of course they wouldn’t! They’d say “Bugger that!” and take to the streets. And yet the same men expect women to put with exactly that, year after year after year.
*For those of you familiar with magnificent Daily Mash, this is always “Professor Henry Brubaker of the Institute for Studies”.