Yes, Misogyny's Thriving In 2023. You Don't Have To Look Hard For Proof.

Is it becoming more pervasive – or are we just paying more attention?
Three recent news stories which have raised questions about misogyny in the UK
Three recent news stories which have raised questions about misogyny in the UK

There’s no denying it – this week’s news cycle has been particularly tough.

What just kicked off the conversation about misogyny?

GB News made headlines on Wednesday after actor and right-wing commentator Laurence Fox verbally attacked journalist Ava Evans live on air, questioning, “who would want to shag that?”

The main counterargument was then presented by host Dan Wootton, who just said that Evans “is a very beautiful woman”.

This conversation – which Evans was not even present for – was sparked by a completely separate appearance where the journalist spoke to BBC Politics Live about why she thought there should be a minister for mental health, rather than a minister for men.

The segment has raised questions about why a woman’s appearance or her sexual appeal is at all related to her ideas on political policy, never mind an appropriate topic for broadcast.

As posts on X (formerly Twitter) have pointed out, this is a common theme in debates involving women – whether it’s a sign of support or opposition to the woman in question.

GB News has since apologised, launched an investigation and formally suspended both Fox and Wootton.

The media watchdog, Ofcom, has also launched an investigation after 7,300 complaints about the programme.

But this is not an isolated incident – there are rising concerns that misogyny is becoming more overt in 2023.

What else happened this week?

The now-viral exchange happened just hours before a 15-year-old girl was fatally stabbed on a bus in Croydon, London, by a 17-year-old boy after allegedly refusing his flowers.

On the same day, YouGov shared a poll finding one in six boys aged 6 to 15 have a positive view of TikToker Andrew Tate – a self-proclaimed misogynist who has previously said it can be a woman’s fault if she was raped.

He was released after more than seven months of house arrest in August, having been charged with rape, human trafficking and an organised crime group to sexually exploit women in Romania.

One in eight respondents told YouGov that they agree with his views on women – although it’s worth noting around 56% do have a negative opinion of him, too.

Home secretary Suella Braverman caused a stir this week too, by saying that being a woman or gay is not reason enough to be granted asylum – despite both groups facing discrimination around the world.

So, was it just one exceptionally bad week?

No. The week before that, it was the allegations of sexual offences against Russell Brand, made by a group of anonymous women, dominating the news.

Then, there was the now-former Spanish football federation president who has since been issued with a restraining order after he controversially kissed a player after Spain’s World Cup victory last month. She says he did so without her consent.

Let’s not forget the divided response to the blockbuster of the summer, either.

While Barbie was a success on many levels – including making a historic $1 billion (£823,373,000) at the box office – many pundits thought it held an anti-men message.

TalkTV host Piers Morgan denounced it, saying: “I thought feminism was about equality.

“Why does empowering women have to be able trashing men?”

He subsequently boycotted the movie.

This attitude towards women, or anything that celebrates women, goes far beyond a string of unfortunate events which has unfolded over the last few months.

What about outside of the UK?

It’s everywhere, and the stats prove it.

In June, the UN found nine out of 10 people of all genders are biased against women.

That’s unchanged from data collected more than a decade ago.

The stats, collected between 2017 and 2022, found that half of people in 80 countries believe men make better political leaders, 40% think men are better business executives and a quarter think it is acceptable for men to beat their wives.

Pedro Conceição, head of UNDP’s human development report office, said that he had expected some progress following a lot of visibility of the “very shocking ways in which these bias norms affect women” through the #MeToo movement.

However, this exercise just ended up showing the “lack of progress” when it came to gender equality.

And, according to a report, Women, Business and the Law 2023, published by the World Bank this year, only 14 countries in the world have 100% full equal rights for women.

The UK isn’t even on that list, as women have only 97.5% equality in law.

Even existential threats, like climate change, leave women with a tougher situation.

Under a worst-case climate scenario uncovered by the UN, food insecurity is projected to affect as many as 236 million more women and girls, compared to 131 million more men and boys.

That’s before we even get to the abortion debate which kicked off on the other side of the Atlantic last year, culminating in the US Supreme Court overturning Roe v Wade, legislation which protected abortion rights across the country.

Is change coming?

Well, one of the UN’s goals is to create gender equality by 2030.

At the moment, the UN predicts will take an estimated 300 years to end child marriage, 286 years to close gaps in legal protection and remove discriminatory laws, 140 years for women to be represented equally in positions of power and leadership in the workplace.

Oh, and 47 years to achieve equal representation in national parliament.

It’s incredibly overwhelming when you step back and look at the full picture.

This piece is the tip of the iceberg, without even delving into the fight for women’s rights in Iran, or the reality for women living under the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Perhaps just one statistic summarises it all perfectly.

Happiness of girls and young women in the UK aged between seven to 21 is at its lowest level since 2009, according to polling for Girlguiding, with nine out of 10 respondents admitting they’re worried or anxious.

Is there any surprise as to why?