Search

Young Readers’ Edition: Sexism is endemic in all of society

13:00 30 January 2014

Objectifying women fuels a culture of abuse, says Nathalie Weatherald.

I was eleven the first time a man tried to slide his hand up my leg on the Northern Line; twelve when I was wolf-whistled and followed home by a large group of boys; thirteen when I was told by a man on the top deck of a bus that “the pay was good”.

Girls like me, have been raised to live in a state of perpetual and necessary caution because of our sex, despite living in one of the most diverse and advanced cities in the world.

The knowledge that we are being continuously observed starts at a very young age. For some it stays just that: continued observation, judgements passed, verbal and low-level physical abuse – but others become trapped in abusive relationships; have their career limited due to institutionalised sexism; see their rapists exonerated as their outfit the night of the attack is deemed to be ‘asking for it’.

Advertising tells us our negative space is worth more than our positive space; that we are living breathing decorations, existing for the pleasure of men; our primary value lies in the quality of our performance.

By reducing women to objects at everyday level we are creating a culture in which daily harassment is commonplace, and a fertile environment for sexist abuse and violence to blossom.

The rise in media interest in feminism, the emergence of campaigns and feminist newspapers and the creation of sixth form feminist groups are a response to the harmful effects felt by the maturing of the internet generations.

Porn is no longer a bare breast in a crumpled Playboy magazine stuffed underneath a mattress. It is online, free and hard-core.

It is in this environment that boys my age, the boys my friends and I are in relationships with, come into sexual maturity.

In the words of gender expert Ran Gavrieli: “It is not about erotica or healthy sexual communication; it is all about male domination of woman. In mainstream porn on the web, we can find the rape category side by side with the humiliation category, the abuse category, the crying category. Porn is filled with these motives, even in its mildest form.”

He describes how “after making a habit out of porn, I lost my ability to imagine. I found myself trying to fantasize desperately about something human and not making it because my head was bombarded by all of those images of women being violated and subordinated.”

Young boys are being conditioned into expecting this from their sexual partners and woman into believing this is what they should be providing, presented with an increasingly violent, sadistic ideal of sexual relationships.

The thirteen-year-old boy curiously Googling will soon need more to receive the same thrill.

The impact of this widespread exposure will impact for years to come. Currently 400,000 girls a year are sexually assaulted in the UK and over 85,000 are raped.

Sixth form feminist societies and campaigns such as Lose the Lads Mags, No More Page Three and Everyday Sexism tackle issues at root-level and spread social awareness of these issues. However, this is inherently limited: it’s in the nature of these campaigns that those who get most exposure to them are those most likely to be educated on the issues.

It is vital that the cause these groups are fighting for is articulated to everyone – not just teens rolling up on a Tuesday lunchtime to a school Fem Soc.

Feminism has become synonymous with a small sector of middle/upper class females who parade around Muswell Hill and Crouch End with organic canvas bags and art folders, preaching the benefits of quinoa, tofu and Echinacea.

Sexism pervades every level of society but economically disadvantaged women feel the brunt of it as legal aid is cut back, including for those in abusive relationships, and the recession leads to disproportionate cuts in services for women.

The aim of feminism is sometimes obscured - the belief that both men and women have equal rights carries a pervasive stigma that deters others from getting involved. In reality, it is not the liberal, left middle class sixth formers of north London that are most in need of understanding that women should not be objects.

The feminist movement goes some way to confronting issues; from leering at year eight schoolgirls on the C2 bus to unacceptable levels of abusive relationships (83% of rape cases are still not reported). But young feminists like me must address the economic deprivation that allows all areas of discrimination to flourish, including racism and homophobia. We need to be strong enough to fight other battles as well as our own: it’s a busy time to be a teenage girl.

0 comments

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Yesterday, 08:41
Owner Saby Thukral at the opening party of her store in Heath Street

Struggling with the challenge of shopping for her fashion-conscious daughters in the area, a Hampstead Garden Suburb mother has opened up a new children’s shop in Hampstead.

Saturday, April 30, 2016
Claire Meir part of a charity raising money for books for Syrian refugees in Turkey. Photo: Nigel Sutton

A mother was inspired to fundraise to buy books for Syrian children in Turkey after imagining what it would be like if her son was fleeing devastating civil war.

Saturday, April 30, 2016
The primary school pupils enjoyed a range of workshops. Photo: Jacqui Sinnatt

Camden and Islington primary school children enjoyed a taste of creativity away from the classroom at the Primary Careers Fair held at the British Library.

Friday, April 29, 2016
Ray Davies is returning to Hornsey Town Hall

Ray Davies performed one of his first gigs at the iconic venue when he was still at school, before going on to form The Kinks

Friday, April 29, 2016
The coffin arrives for the funeral of David Gest arriving at Golders Green Crematorium in north London.

Mourners have remembered music producer and TV star David Gest at a funeral service in Golders Green.

Friday, April 29, 2016
PC Shane Moulds has been dismissed for misconduct

A Camden police constable has been sacked for punching a member of the public he was arresting and hurling abuse at him, calling him a ‘posh twat’

Friday, April 29, 2016
Big Green Bookshop is raising money for Haringey schools.  Joint owner Tim West  pictured. Photo: Nigel Sutton

Two book owners was sickened when an opportunistic thief stole £600, but their customers were “unbelievably” supportive and in a “tsunami of loveliness” helped them raise more than nine times the amount in donations.

Friday, April 29, 2016
Found dead: David Gest (Picture: Ian West/PA Wire)

The funeral of David Gest is set to take place this afternoon at Golders Green crematorium, according to reports.

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Newsletter Sign Up

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Competitions

Kindle 7 inch tablet

Are you looking for a brand new gadget to help you stay connected on the go and make that long journey home a bit more entertaining? Look no further. MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Kindle Fire 7” Display Tablets! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Yummy traditional afternoon teas for two

MyOffers is giving you the chance to win 1 of 50 Traditional Afternoon Teas for two at a location of your choice! That’s 50 times more chances to win, so hurry up and enter our competition today and you could be one of our lucky winners!

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe