Jessica Ennis, a Sheffield-born sportswoman and the nation's sweetheart, created a furore over the summer with her spectacular performance at the UK Olympics, winning a gold medal for her achievements as a heptathlon and is currently the British all-time leader of the heptathlon. Yet her appearance on Sports Personality of the Year Award on Monday 17th December 2012, rather than focusing on her achievements as sportswoman, in a traditionally male-dominated industry, Twitter and social networking media sites were ablaze with derogatory comments and top tweets on Twitter were merely about her arse and her breasts.
The Lad Bible, a website which appeals to males and their masculinity and based on making a mockery of women's intellectual abilities, put up an image of Jessica Ennis titled 'Jessica Ennis's arse last night...', gaining over 38,000 likes and derogatory comments such as 'I would wear that ass like a glove' and 'Now that gentleman, is an arse I would love to hang out the back of'. When typing Jessica Ennis onto Google search, the second item that comes up is 'Jessica Ennis bum'. What kind of society do we live in in that an award-winning sports medallist is reduced to simply biological parts of a woman's body?
It appears that sexism in contemporary society not only affects sportswomen and women in the public eye but transpires to the everyday woman. Misogyny is still subtly somewhat present in mainstream universities. Women who are sexually liberated are persecuted and berated for their casual attitudes to sex in comparison to men who are praised for the highest number of women they can sleep with during their time at university. Furthermore, the Everyday Sexism Project (follow @EverdaySexism) reports stories of women being harassed in public places such as cafes, bars and are simply reduced to breasts, legs and arse by male customers, friends and colleagues. One girl, Caro, catalogued that men she had come into contact with 'still think it's OK to talk about 'smashing' a woman, or make a rape joke in the name of banter. It's frightening that they don't realise that even if they think they're being ironic, they are contributing to rape culture'.
Critics have argued that misogyny is to blame at the hands of women, who have willingly cooperated in the male perception of women, viewing that women prefer to occupy a physical rather than a mental position in men's minds. This could not be more wrong. Where have women ever chosen to be referred to as 'a smashing pair of tits' or 'be ruined'. Did Jessica Ennis become a sportswoman so men could solely discuss her arse?
Perhaps women have aspired to glamour modelling and being footballer wives because they have come to terms with the fact that feminism is dying and that we are never going to gain true equality, and have realised they may as well use their looks and bodies for a better end result, gaining wealth, a famous boyfriend or husband and perhaps celebrity status.
No matter how much Britain prides itself on gender equality, I highly doubt there will ever be a time when men and women will be treated as equals and women will respected and admired for their intellectual abilities, rather than their physical appearance.
Follow Layla Haidrani on Twitter: www.twitter.com/layla_haidrani