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5 things "modern-men" still don't get about women

21 November 2015, 10:43

It’s the end of 2015 and yet, there is still so much that needs to change for women.

The list of gender inequalities still reads like a Biblical scroll. The most shocking thing for me is that often so-called “modern-men” (i.e. considerate guys who generally have modern mind-sets with regards to gender roles) have no idea when it comes to the basic inequalities women deal with:

1. It is still more expensive to be a woman

On 6 November, images of three British women protesting in front of the Parliament in London went viral.

Clad in white pants, they opted to “free bleed" in an effort to dismantle the tampon tax, which still classifies sanitary products as luxury and not essential items. Taxing women simply for being women? We don’t spend more because we are “always shopping”, things are simply more expensive for women.

Even a trip to the dry cleaners cost double for a woman than it does for men.

2. The wage gap tells women that they’re worth less

In Kenya, it is estimated that the Kenyan woman earns KES 62 for every KES 100 paid to a man for doing a similar job.

This has long term implications. Women lose out on pension and other benefits that are related to basic salary.

So how are we supposed to afford that sexist haircut?!

3. We don’t have the fundamental right to claim space

In a brilliant paper by Henriette Gunkel (2010) it’s argued that, traditionally, public space is understood as a male arena. Men have always been accorded the dominant position within the public space, which left women reserved to the private space of home and childcare. She demonstrates this by citing the case of a public gang-rape, acted out with such impunity right in front of the victim’s stepfather’s home.

Men’s entitlement over women’s bodies is evident in the most basic of levels, e.g. safety and security in public spaces are always a factor for women. Think traveling abroad alone, walking to/or waiting at the train station in the dark, being alone after hours in your work’s parking lot, etc.

4. Rape culture tells women: “you are in charge of preventing your own rape”

A woman is a slut, a man is a playboy. This might be the oldest analogy in the book, but it says everything. It implies women decide to become sluts, or choose to be raped. “She wore provocative clothing”, “she was drunk”, “she was alone in town at 3am”: “What did she think was going to happen to her?” Victim-blaming tells women that their choices have no merit and that they should be punished for living the same lives as their male counterparts.  

5. They say we should take cat-calling as a compliment
Modern men might not be doing the wolf-whistling themselves, but most don’t consider this to be an actual issue for women. Or that it’s even offensive. I’ve been told that I am imagining it or the all-too-familiar “You should see it as a compliment”.

A wink, a lick of lips or even a comment like “You look lekker, girl” has become run-of-the-mill, and sadly, part of our day-to-day lives. I asked some women in the 24.com office to share some of the worst cat-calling comments they’ve ever received by men on the street and it’s enough to make your hair curl.

“Come sit on my face, baby”

“You want my dick up your ass, don’t you?”

‘I normally walk with earphones just to avoid all the catcalls, because I get a lot of “yoh that ass” followed by crude offers for anal sex, but last week a guy walked up to me and said “you with that face, I’ll give you R 500 (KES 5 000) if you come with me”’

“I want to do things to you that will never make you walk again.” 

Still think we should accept these as compliments?

- Woman24


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