surinenglish

Business as usual

It was heartening to see so many men, young and old, actively participating in the International Women's Day march in Malaga last Friday. However, on Saturday morning, less than 12 hours after International Women's Day had ended, I had been sent, by a male friend in a Whatsapp group and seen on another male friend's Facebook page, the same sexist image: that of an International Women's Day banner, presumably still creased from its packaging, with the words "could've ironed it" written underneath.

Actually, in the worst of the two examples, the one I saw on Facebook, the perpetrator had committed that most heinous of grammar crimes and written "could of." I can only assume that the irony of bad grammar would be lost on the person who wrote it. However, I don't want to be seen as a Feminazi as well as a grammar Nazi all in the same article, so I shall stop.

Later on that same day I was listening to Radio 4's Any Answers, during which the Conservative politician, Michael Forsyth, twice referred to the need for more "policemen" on the streets of England. So it seems that it's business as usual again.

I can't imagine that it really occurred to any of these men that they might actually offend anyone and that the women would just laugh it off.

But isn't that what many men still believe? An inappropriate comment will just be brushed aside and not cause any offence? In Spanish this is referred to as micro-machismo; in English, microaggression: small incidents of sexism that most hardly give a thought to.

Perhaps the men, who felt it was OK to send the offensive image on 8 March, thought it would be fine to do so on the 9th. Thank goodness that's over for another year, they thought. Now we can go about our normal business and even have a laugh at the day itself.

Michael Forsyth's gaffe, to my mind is just another example of these microaggressions and I was horrified that nobody, including the female panellists on the programme, picked him up on it.

According to the headline in last week's SUR in English, it could take more than 100 years for the pay gap between men and women to right itself in Spain. Just how many years is it going to take for microaggressions to disappear?

I know that it is unfair to tar all men with the same brush and that those at last Friday's march and many, many more would also share my views about policemen and ironing banners.

However, there are a great many more who seemingly don't and for that reason the messages that are shared on 8 March cannot be stored in a box for the other 364 days of the year.