Socialist Worker

Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez looks at how sexism in society kills women

by Sheila McGregor
Issue No. 2645

People join an International Womens Day demonstration in Athens, Greece

People join an International Women's Day demonstration in Athens, Greece (Pic: Workers Solidarity)


Sexism pervades every level of society throughout the world—home, work, public spaces, transport, health care and leisure.

This has a daily impact on women’s lives and wellbeing as their needs, views and even their presence is ignored.

Criado Perez has unearthed extensive data highlighting the extent to which sexism is the default position in everyday life.

For instance, a study of academics in the US exposed that researchers “rated fake research claiming that academia had no gender bias higher than real research which showed it did”.

Other studies show that high-paying jobs done by men turn into lower-paid jobs when mainly done by women.

A main focus of the book is the assumptions which underpin daily life.

One example is how the medical profession is trained on the “average” male body—as if female bodies were just a smaller version of the male.

So, symptoms for women with heart attacks are different from those of men. Because of assumptions in medicine in Britain, women are 50 percent more likely to be misdiagnosed than men.

These are examples of the all-pervasive gender “data gap” referrred to by Criado Perez.

Techniques have been developed to overcome some of this sexism. Orchestras routinely choose new players through “blind” auditions —listening to candidates without being able to see them.

Criado Perez provides a wealth of data I’ve not even mentioned, about the world of work and the double burden women face. She places her hopes in campaigning to get more women in positions of influence throughout society on the grounds that women will bring about change.

The roots of sexism and inequality are systemic because of the way in which the family operates. That means women within the family bear the burden of caring for working class people in capitalist society.

The battle to change that is part of a wider struggle to create a society based on the needs of all and not the profits of a few.

Published by Penguin. £16.99

Rouse, Ye Women

In 1910 the women chainmakers of Cradley Heath focused the world’s attention on the plight of Britain’s low-paid women workers. Their wage was 5 shillings for a 50-hour week.

Led by union organiser Mary Reid Macarthur, hundreds of women struck for a living wage. They won, and their pay doubled.

The play brings to life Macarthur’s campaign to expose the bosses that profited from the poverty.

Touring until 19 April. For dates and times, go to bit.ly/RouseYeWomen

Fleabag

Pheobe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag is back. Almost three years after the smash hit debut, Fleabag’s life is as disastrous as ever.

Crisis lies everywhere. Even a family dinner results in Fleabag having to wipe her face clean of blood with an enthusiastic waitress at her feet, similarly injured.

The first episode promises lots of dark humour. Jokes about miscarriages, paedophilia, alcoholism and death all puncture the tense atmosphere of a middle class family pretending they get along.

It’s this relationship that’s the beating heart of Fleabag’s chaos. When her dad gives her therapy for her birthday, it’s not only funny but moving as well.

Fleabag is a woman just about holding on—and we’re lucky to be along for the ride.

Sarah Bates

On BBC Three, Mondays at 9pm. Also available on iPlayer

From Cable Street to Brick Lane

This documentary is about the fight against racism and fascism in east London.

The film explores how different communities came together to challenge racism and intolerance.

6.30pm, 14 March. Genesis Cinema, London E1 4UJ

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