For millennia the world has been run by, and for, men. Women in Saudi Arabia only obtained the right to vote in 2014 and in many parts of the globe women still have no rights whatsoever.
One would think that in the “progressive” modern west women’s voices would be equally weighted to men’s – we are, after all, in the 21st century and women make up 51% of the UK population – but experience after experience after experience shows that this is not the case.
While there is often lip service paid to equality between the sexes, lurking beneath the surface is still, for the most part, an inherently misogynistic culture. Because the world is run by, and for, men, boys are brought up thinking that their experience of the world is shared by everyone and because the world around them confirms this belief and it remains largely unchallenged their mind set doesn’t alter. I am, of course, speaking in generalisations and there will always be men who wholeheartedly think the sexes are equal, but the thing about generalisations is that they’re generally correct.
Mysogyny is rife in photography. FIAP, for example, does not contain one female board member so all decisions regarding the running of the organisation are taken from a male perspective and experience. Men think that their experience is women’s experience too and that it doesn’t matter that women aren’t represented because, after all, we think just like men anyway. Only, of course, we don’t. Our experience of the world is often the polar opposite to that of men.
There is a Facebook group for PAGB affiliated Clubs which has over 4,000 members. There was a thread recently about the banning of a semi-nude photograph, and while I personally agreed that the ban on this particular image was ridiculous as it only showed the inside of a bare thigh, I did comment that I had a big issue with nude photography as it objectifies women. I have a particular problem with the fact that 95% of nudes are of young, stick thin, long haired, women without pubic hair, ie they fit the stereotype for male sexual desirability and disturbingly have the genitalia of a pre-pubescent child.
Men were quick to reply and defend nude photography, while I received 5 private emails from women saying “thank you for saying what the silent majority were thinking”. The fact that the 5 women who emailed me didn’t feel comfortable saying that on a public forum, and had to say it privately, demonstrates how uncomfortable and unsupported women feel in speaking their minds 😢.
In the same week, a female member of my Club shared a poster from the RSPB at Leighton Moss nature reserve on our Club’s Facebook page, which offered a women’s only walk at dusk in light of concerns raised around women’s safety, particularly at night. Two men at my club objected to the walk saying it was “woke” and sexist and they were fed up of having to “put up with” such nonsense.
I was molested at the age of 11 in a field in the countryside by a “respectable” middle class man from my little rural village. Thirty years later, I found out that he had systematically raped 3 little girls from the village over many years, so I actually got off fairly lightly although the experience did scar me for life. At the time, the children who were raped told no-one but as adults they had the courage to report the crimes and he was thankfully convicted. In the same village, a local Councillor was convicted of viewing thousands of indecent images of children on his computer. And our Doctor was jailed for the same.
The countryside is not immune from sexual predators and some of those own a camera. In fact, there is an entire online community of men sharing images of women to shame and humiliate them in the rapidly growing so-called “collector’s culture“. That anyone would object to a group of women walking together in the dark in the countryside blows my mind. And it’s the continuing entrenched view that man’s experience of the world must be woman’s experience of the world which feeds the lack of understanding of the female perspective.
Rather than getting annoyed at the women for feeling unsafe, why don’t men get annoyed with the rapists, paedophiles and abusers instead? Because if they didn’t exist, 67,000 women in the UK would not have been raped in 2019 and we would all feel safer walking around on our tod after dark.
I challenged the men’s attitudes towards female safety at my Club and was told I didn’t have an objective view of the world. Actually, what I don’t have is a male view of the world and it seems there is little place for a women’s view. I will be leaving my club at the end of this season. I can’t share a space with such blatant misogyny.
In 1989, women challenged the lack of female photographers represented at the Met Museum and the massive over-representation of female nudes.
One would hope over three decades later things would have changed, but a 2019 survey has shown that only 11% of art acquired by America’s top museums for their permanent collections was by women. I’ve rolled my eyes so much over this statistic they are in danger of being permanently in the back of my head. It goes without saying that disabled women and poor women aren’t represented at all, and women of colour only make up 3% of the 11%. All of which leaves us, yet again, with a white, male, predominantly middle class view of the world and so the cycle continues.