On what should have been the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a monumental step towards equality and bodily autonomy for women in America, which has now been overturned, a survey has revealed that 44% of Spanish men believe feminism has gone too far. Spain has had a recent history of adopting positive and progressive policies, such as paid sick leave for painful menstrual cycles, making it the ideal place to conduct such a study. However, the term ‘gone too far’ is vague and concerning.
As 2024 settles into a rhythm, it is easy to see how far the strive for gender equality has come. Women can vote across the globe, juggle careers and families – the UK has even had two female Prime Ministers. Healthcare is more widely available across the globe, and issues like period poverty are being tackled and significantly reduced. As a result, a 2020 study by Vice revealed that half of Gen-Z men believed the advancement of feminism was too much and to the detriment of men. They harboured negative views about ‘feminists’ and felt emasculated by the movement.
Yet, women’s rights are routinely being chipped away. With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, women’s autonomy has been made into a trivial subject. Statistics state that 1 in 3 women will experience violence in their lifetime, often at the hands of someone they know. Globally, less than a quarter of countries are making progress towards gender equality, according to IWDA. “Despite significant progress in gender equality over time, gender inequality is deeply embedded in our societies”, says Georgie Bradley, the press representative for the European Institute for Gender Equality.
Even in so-called progressive, developed countries, women still battle sexism and gender-based violence. The Barbie movie, a moving and poignant film that explores the effects of patriarchy and gave a voice to hundreds of underrepresented women in Hollywood, was reduced to a film about “a blonde dolly with big boobies” in a nationally televised Golden Globes monologue. Statistics state that in the UK, 97% of women between the ages of 18 and 24 have been sexually assaulted. While the two don’t seem to correlate when viewed at face value, it is this casual sexism and misogyny that seem unaffected by rules and government policies, creating a breeding ground for more dangerous and violent behaviour towards women.
Even in Spain, where progressive policies surrounding female rights are implemented and supported daily, over 6000 men were questioned over sexual aggressions in 2022 alone, proving that the issues don't always lie in the laws and the justice system, but rather in the way society operates and views women. With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, it's clear that many see women as second-class citizens, considering their lives and bodies less important than that of a fetus.
This casual misogyny is simply reinforced by the rise of internet stars, such as Andrew Tate, who use their platform to disseminate their own very dangerous and outdated ideas about women. The rise of Andrew Tate was met with heavy discourse, many called him harmless, old-fashioned, or even agreed with his politics, suggesting that some of his teachings made sense or resonated with them. Fast forward, and he was convicted on counts of rape, sex trafficking, and sexual violence, proving that we can’t just pass off misogynistic comments or ideologies as ‘harmless’. Not only was Tate a dangerous man, but his opinions, which graced multiple social media platforms, are equally as dangerous, inspiring similar thoughts and actions in young men and normalising the idea that women are still second-class citizens.
With the rise of misogyny comes misandry, although in much smaller pockets. The idea of ‘kill all men’ or ‘I hate all men” has been a satire across social platforms for years, a response to the way young women feel they are treated and perceived by men in society. This idea that men could be second-class citizens comes with the same jokey ideas as a lot of misogyny does. You’ll find jokes, trends and even viral clips of celebrities talking about how much they hate men across the internet, yet it is nowhere near as prevalent or spoken about as the rampant misogyny we are faced with.
The difference between the two is small: women don’t oppress, threaten, and harm men in the same way men do. Misandry, whilst toxic and problematic, doesn’t have the same real-world consequences as misogyny does, especially given that this misogyny is upheld and supported by the patriarchal society we still live in. Whilst men are still at risk of rape, sexual abuse, and gender-based violence, it is not the epidemic we see plaguing women, and the numbers are small in comparison.
“Gender stereotypes and similar preconceived societal norms are still highly present in our daily lives, influencing people’s mindset and behaviours, and even shaping their choices for the future,” Bradly points out. “The unbalanced distribution of care responsibilities is a good example of this. As women bear a larger share of unpaid care duties compared to men due to gender norms and expectations, they face greater challenges in balancing work and life. This, in turn, has a negative impact on their living conditions and overall wellbeing which needs more attention and commitment to overturn for the betterment of our societies and economies as a whole”.
Misogyny affects us all negatively, whether we admit it or not. Misogyny upholds the standards men face when paying for dates, bottling up their emotions, and the epidemic of male loneliness. It supports a system that pushes men to shy away from their emotions, deal with issues alone, and not form deep bonds with fellow men. It also perpetuates inequality, violence against women, and old-fashioned gender roles.
Feminism, however you choose to look at it, is about tackling both sides of this issue. While some men may believe it limits their free speech or points the finger at them for ‘harmless’ jokes they made, what the feminist movement is also doing is attempting to create a society in which they feel they can express emotion and aren’t always expected to pick up the bill at dinner.
“The ongoing efforts to promote gender equality in all areas of life is about creating a fair and just society for everyone,” Georgie Bradley affirms.
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