The activist behind the campaign to make Jane Austen the face of the £10 note has published a 432-page encyclopaedia of feminist grievances. But do women really get a bad deal in what is still a man’s world?
Feminist author Caroline Criado-Perez’s ‘Invisible Women Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men’ has won the 2019 Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award.
The tome purports to demonstrate that a gender data gap exists in cars, medical devices and treatments, tax structures as “a direct consequence of them” – men – “forgetting that women exist.” Men have designed modern societies for their own benefit, and women are suffering in every turn, from crash test dummies that are too big to approximate what will happen to them in a crash, to Google Home smart speakers not obeying women’s voices as well as men’s.
“Unassailable facts, backed by powerful stories, are what moves minds,” Kevin Sneader, McKinsey’s global managing partner, said as he awarded the prestigious prize.
So let’s look at some of these facts. Starting with smartphones, which are too small for women’s dainty porcelain shards, weakened from the subliminal and omnipresent oppression of men.
“I got RSI (repetitive strain injury) from an iPhone 6. And I am now stuck with an iPhone SE which I can’t upgrade,” runs a typical complaint from Criaso-Perez.
The rest of us either haven’t noticed this shocking inequality or we’re too busy putting our phones and tablets into our handbags, while men have to try to find a pocket big enough.
What about movies? Just 17 percent of extras are female. Perhaps it’s because specifically big crowds are used for battle scenes, which were historically comprised of armies of men. Would Ms. Criado-Perez like to rewrite history and replace soldiers in the trenches with women? Why don’t they just edit Wonder Woman or a host of Valkyries into the opening scene of Saving Private Ryan?
When Apple introduced Siri in 2011, you could use it to find Viagra suppliers, but not an abortion clinic, Criado-Perez alleged. Apple refuted the claims, insisting that it was “new technology” and the “test product that were still being ironed out.”
Women are 2.5 times more likely to be on antidepressants than men – which might have something to do with the fact that women are more likely to go to the doctor. Men, on the other hand, have a higher suicide rate.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in 2017, men died by suicide 3.54 times more often than women. White males accounted for 69.67 percent of suicide deaths in 2017 in the US. According to WHO, almost two-thirds of worldwide suicides were committed by men. In the UK, it’s the biggest killer of men under 45.
And the book is full of these petty and selective complaints that either miss the bigger picture, or perhaps choose to coyly turn away from it.
For example, for all the talk of medical mistreatment of women, it is men who consistently die younger, all around the world. In 2017, male life expectancy stood at 76.1, female life expectancy stood at 81.1.
And despite saying that men get to design their own workplace environment, according to the WHO, men have greater levels of occupational exposure to physical and chemical hazards. In 2010, almost 750,000 men died globally from occupationally related causes, as opposed to just over 102,000 women.
In Europe, 95 percent of fatal accidents and 76 percent of non-fatal accidents in the workplace are experienced by men. Not to mention that despite repeated attempts to claim that women are the primary casualties of armed conflict – one that is accepted without a murmur from Hillary Clinton or a UN diplomat – the overwhelming majority of those killed are men.
Does Criado-Perez focus on this, or that women’s protective wear is too big once women were allowed to join the frontline forces?
And if you think she is just an egalitarian interested in righting centuries of inequality, you are welcome to read her own words.
In a Sunday Times interview earlier this year, she admiringly quoted Andrea Dworkin’s line about women being “the only discriminated-against group that shares a bed with their oppressor.”
“If I could be a lesbian, I’d be a lesbian. But unfortunately I’m straight, and that’s one of the sadnesses of my life.” No man hater this.
Is this someone whose opinion we should be listening to on gender issues?
As a woman, I am not sure Criado-Perez understands feminism either.
“I’m not a perfect feminist. I worry about the way I look, and I worry about being fat. And waxing my legs, and what about shaving my armpits?”
Nowhere in the Oxford English dictionary, does it say that as a feminist ‘you must have hairy armpits and hairy legs, because the patriarchy demands otherwise.’ It says women should have the same rights and opportunities as men.
Her brand of feminism sees women as victims, oppressed by evil men. If it weren’t for trailblazers like Criado- Perez, we’d be curled up in a ball in the fetal position. This kind of attitude is not just deeply offensive to women, but also totally unhelpful to those who buy into it.
Just to be clear. Neither sex has the better deal. Women have babies, men don’t. Men are stronger, but women get educational advantages. For every Yentl (a 1983 musical in which Barbra Streisand dressed up as a Jewish boy to study religious scripture because girls were forbidden), there’s Dustin Hoffmann, who had to be a woman to get a job in Tootsie in 1982, and Robin Williams, who disguised himself as a woman to see his kids in the 1993 Mrs. Doubtfire.
Feminism is about ‘equality, and mutuality.’ Before it was hijacked by radicals, it set out to end male chauvinism. Ms. Criado Perez and her ilk are trying to replace it with female chauvinism.
Yet, most dogmatists who come from a place of hate and division are ostracized. This one is being given prizes.
By Barbara McCarthy