Since the #MeToo movement, there has been a clear pushback: a growing online dialogue that feminism has “gone a little far”. Despite all the accusations made since the movement began, legal fallout has turned out to be few and far between.
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“If you look at the numbers, 12 million survivors of discrimination, harassment, assault, and abuse shared their stories through #MeToo,” says Bates. “And the New York Times estimates that around 200 men faced some sort of repercussion as a result, the vast majority of them not even legal repercussion.
“This idea that the pendulum has swung too far, that feminism has gone too far and that men are the victims now is complete nonsense.”
Amid the online discourse, anti-feminist ideology has found its way into the workplace. A to study from the Harvard Business School showed that since the #MeToo movement, 27 percent of men avoid one-on-one meetings with female co-workers and 19 percent of men would be reluctant to hire an attractive woman.
Bates described this concept as “a form of extremism and radicalization online”, but adds: “Because it’s misogyny, we don’t think of it that way. And because it’s done primarily by white men, we don’t consider it terrorism. But it is, and it’s effective.”
Bates pays a high price for being a spokesperson for feminism.
“I can get 200 rape and death threats on one bad day,” he says.
“But what I’m really proud of is that you can point to specific changes that I know have occurred because of the Everyday Sexism project. We have taken the stories of schoolgirls being sexually assaulted at school to parliament and used them together with other women’s organizations to convince parliamentarians and ministers to include sexual consent and healthy relationships in the curriculum. That will make a big difference for the next generation.”
During Bates’ investigation, what he found “most shocking” is the level of sexual abuse that is occurring in schools. She said, “We like to think of schools as a safe space. And yet the reality is that an average of one rape per school day is reported to occur within UK schools. The reality is that a third of teenage girls say they are sexually assaulted at school.”
In addition to helping develop the curriculum, Bates has been part of training thousands of transportation police officers to change their approach to sex crimes on public transportation, which has since “increased reporting by 30 percent.” “.
“There’s a lot of positive that has come out, a lot to hold on to, and a lot to be hopeful about,” she says. Next on her list of solutions is law enforcement.
“What we have seen in the last two years is evidence of institutional misogyny and institutional racism within the police force,” explains Bates.
He bluntly refutes the idiomatic expression that it is “a few bad apples in the system” and instead calls for “real root and branch reform”.
When Sarah Everard was raped and murdered by an on-duty Met officer in March 2021, the police told the women not to go out alone at night. Following the murder of Sabina Nessa in September 2021, the police handed over 200 rape alarms in the local area. After Bobbi-Anne McLeod was murdered in Plymouth last November, the leader of the local Conservative council said “everyone has a responsibility not to try to put themselves in a compromising position”.
“They didn’t stop the men to talk to them,” says Bates.
“People are really willing to accept that there is a degree to which women’s lives must inevitably be limited by this. If the police told the men in Clapham they can’t go out alone, one of them is raping and murdering people so they have to stay in pairs, people would have been outraged.”
After Sarah Everard, the phrase “she did everything right” was trending on social media. One tweet read: “Sarah Everard did everything right. Everything women are supposed to do. bright clothes. Main road. I called her man.
When Ashling Murphy was violently murdered while out for a 4pm jog in Ireland earlier this year, “I was just going for a run” trended on social media.
Bates continued: “We focus only on the cases of women who our society considers to be these perfect victims who did all the right things. And that’s why it’s a tragedy.
“What we’re really saying is that if she had been drunk or gone at 2 a.m., or met a customer for sex, or used drugs, then it would have been a little more unavoidable or understandable.”
Bates noted that the media focuses primarily on victims of sexual abuse who are young, white, middle-class professional women. She said: “It’s just the tip of the iceberg and it prevents us from seeing the whole picture.”
An investigation by the Independent Office for Police Conduct revealed the sexist culture fostered within the police force. He discovered that Wayne Couzens, Everard’s killer, had been involved in multiple unreported accounts of misogynistic behavior.
The investigation included officers having sex at work, sending derogatory WhatsApp messages such as: “I would gladly rape you” and: “Getting a woman to bed is like butter. It can be done with a little effort using a credit card, but it’s faster and easier to use a knife,” and one officer goes by the nickname: “McRapey Raperson.”
According to data released through a freedom of information request, 2,000 complaints of sexual misconduct, including rape, have been filed against serving police officers over the last four years.
“Obviously it’s a system problem and not acknowledging it means the culture within that system won’t change,” Bates said.
Bates suggests ways we can review and repair these insidious cultures.
“In the same way that white people have a responsibility to shoulder some of the burden of educating people of color, those who experience it and shoulder the responsibility of educating ourselves and each other to have those difficult conversations,” he says.
Bates calls for more “male allies” to join the conversation.
“I would really like to see men taking on awkward conversations with each other in male-dominated spaces,” says Bates. “Challenge him when he comes up in a WhatsApp group or in a locker room.
“The standard that our peers will accept is really impactful in terms of changing what people consider to be acceptable behavior. Even if it seems like a harmless prank.
Fix the System Not the Women by Laura Bates is out now. This interview is part of the latest edition of BetterPod, The Big Issue’s weekly podcast exploring how we can all take action today for a better tomorrow. Listenhere or at your regular podcast provider.