Hurray! It’s Women’s History Month, a time to celebrate the lives and achievements of women all across the world, past and present. It’s a time to lift each other, to celebrate our similarities and differences, and to have each other’s backs when we need it.
Except… it doesn’t feel like it is. Not even two weeks into March, I have seen far too much blatant misogyny than I care to. Every day I am reminded that regardless of how far we have come, we still have a long way to go to women being treated as equals.
It all started on the very first day of March, with the release of the show Ginny and Georgia onto Netflix – which, of course, contained the problematic line “You go through men faster than Taylor Swift.” That’s right – Taylor Swift, who has been dating Joe Alwyn for over four years, is getting slut-shamed in the year 2021. I thought this joke died five years ago, but apparently not. It disappointed me even further to find out that this show was created and written by women. This could have been a move I expected from men, sure, but from women? Not to mention this is coming from the same platform that made a documentary about Taylor herself, documenting her struggles and insecurities, which stemmed from these kinds of sexist jokes way back at the start of her career.
Swift rightfully called out the show for its sexist joke, but I have seen mixed responses from the public about her response. Some are cheering her on; some think that she needs to “lighten up” and “take a joke.” I, for one, am done seeing “jokes” being made at the expense of women. Because in the end, they are not just jokes – they are beliefs that harm us in our everyday lives, beliefs that women are lesser and not worthy of respect depending on how we look or act.
Another “joke” that we have been graced within Women’s History Month was when the official Burger King UK account decided to tweet “Women belong in the kitchen” a few days ago. The Twitter account then issued a follow-up tweet to say, “… If they want to, of course. Yet only 20% of chefs are women. We’re on a mission to change the gender ratio in the restaurant industry by empowering female employees with the opportunity to pursue a culinary career.”
Now, I guess I can see what they were going for. A classic “gotcha!” moment to grab your attention and follow up with the main point of the tweet. But the point didn’t get across – the tweet was taken out of context by misogynists and spread as what that line originated as – a sexist joke. Why couldn’t they have just tweeted the two points together instead of using a sexist joke as a punchline? The original tweet had more than a 500% higher interaction rate than the follow-up tweet, and the replies were filled with misogynists laughing and degrading women.
The account later issued an apology, saying, “We hear you. We got our initial tweet wrong, and we’re sorry. Our aim was to draw attention to the fact that only 20% of professional chefs in UK kitchens are women and help change that by awarding culinary scholarships. We will do better next time.” However, this was also after the account defended their publication of the tweet, claiming it was “drawing attention” to the issue at hand. But this is exactly the issue – women’s rights aren’t an attention grabber, and they’re certainly not a punchline, and it’s time to stop treating it like it is. This is also some pretty big talk coming from a company whose high-ranking employees are the majority… white men, but that’s a conversation for another time.
As a society, we need to do better, men and women alike. Stop normalizing misogyny and allowing it to be passed off as a joke. Because even if YOU find it funny, I can guarantee you that it is hurting someone else.