Widening gender gap — no wonder women voters are apt to be angry

This is a worthy article despite being written the recent escalation of the war against women with the Taliban prohibition of any education at any level for females.


A widening gender rage gap? No wonder: women have a lot to feel angry about

Arwa Mahdawi

Anger can be a catalyst for change, so let’s harness female rage at inequality, violence and the loss of reproductive rights

Woman at protest holding sign saying 'angry women will change the world'
The overturning of Roe v Wade and the election of Donald Trump in 2016 were major moments for female anger. Photograph: Gina M Randazzo/Zuma Press Wire/Rex/Shutterstock

Sat 10 Dec 2022 09.00 EST

Anger is all the rage

Women are getting angrier, according to a BBC analysis of 10 years of data from the Gallup World Poll. Over 120,000 people in more than 150 countries are surveyed by Gallup every year about their emotions and the results are not particularly cheery. Women consistently report feeling negative emotions more than men, and, since 2012, more women than men report feeling sad and worried. While men aren’t exactly doing great – both genders report feeling more worried than they did a decade ago – there’s a widening gender rage gap.

The rage gap is particularly extreme in some countries. In India, for example, 40.6% of women said they felt anger during a lot of the previous day in 2021 compared with 27.8% of men. Those numbers are up from around 30% (women) and 26% (men) in 2012. The gender rage gap was also more striking during the first year of the pandemic across many countries.

I’m sure none of this comes as a surprise: there is a lot for women to be angry about. For the last few years it has felt like progress has been going backwards. In the US, Roe v Wade was overturned, of course, and women lost hard-won abortion rights. The election of Donald Trump in 2016 was also a major moment for female anger: a misogynist who boasted about grabbing women by the pussy became the most powerful person in the world.

The pandemic has also been disproportionately hard on women, driving millions of mothers out of the workforce to take on childcare duties. A global study found that, on average, women did three times as much childcare as men during the pandemic. A lot of men shrugged and assumed their wife would just take care of things because that’s what women do, don’t they? “We owe mums everywhere an enormous debt of thanks for … juggling childcare and work at this tricky time,” Rishi Sunak, who was the British chancellor at the time and is now prime minister, said early last year. As a piece in the Guardian pointed out: “That statement jumps right into the complacent myth that women will always be there to care – and never want any reward but love.”

The murder of Sarah Everard, who was abducted and killed by a police officer as she walked home from a friend’s house in London, was another flashpoint for female anger. After Everard disappeared, police officers went door to door in south London telling women to stay at home for their own safety, prompting anger about victim-blaming. Everard’s murder sparked a nationwide reckoning with male violence in the UK and a conversation about how normalized fear is for women.

While women have a lot to be angry about, there are also reasons for optimism. The fact that women seem increasingly comfortable admitting that they’re angry is a good thing in itself. Women, after all, are socialized to be nice; every woman on earth has been told to smile by some random man. In fact one survey found that 98% of women have been told to smile at work; 15% reported that they’re told to smile weekly. (The survey was done by a direct-to-consumer dental alignment company, I should note, so may not be 100% scientific but you get the idea.) Men have always been allowed to lose their cool; women, particularly minorities, get punished for it. Studies show that by the time most children are toddlers they associate angry expressions with male faces. As Soraya Chemaly, the author of Rage Becomes Her, has written, “anger is considered a marker of masculinity”.

Anger can be corrosive but, if channeled correctly, it can also be a powerful catalyst for change. The #MeToo movement, for example, was born out of anger; all social movements are. So let’s embrace the fact that women are getting angrier, shall we? What would really be rage-inducing was if everyone was happy with current status quo.

Street harassment will be made a crime in England

While sexual harassment is already illegal, it is hoped that creating a new offence for street harassment (catcalling, following someone, etc) will encourage more people to report such behaviour to the police. Former business secretary Greg Clark, who tabled the legislation, says the aim of the bill is “to reinforce a change in the culture that establishes that it is completely unacceptable to abuse women in the streets”.

Iranian forces reportedly shooting at faces and genitals of female protesters

Medical professionals in Iran told the Guardian that security forces seem to be targeting women at anti-regime protests with shotgun fire to their faces, breasts and genitals. There have been at least 1,600 protests recorded in Iran since Mahsa Amini’s death in custody in September.

[omitted because stale]

An AI image app is generating sexualized images of women without prompting

An app called Lensa AI is all the rage at the moment: you feed it bunch of selfies and it transforms them into stylized works of art where you look 100 times more attractive. Can you tell why it’s so popular?! But if you’re a woman it also sexualizes you: giving you bigger breasts, perhaps, or even undressing you. The Guardian uploaded a picture of Amelia Earhart to the app and it spat out a rendering of the aviation pioneer naked and leaning on a bed. This isn’t exactly a surprise – it’s well-established by now that AI perpetuates human biases.

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