In the wake of disturbing remarks about women from two prominent men in politics in recent weeks, it is more important than ever that society sends a firm global message about the position of women in our world today. Michelle Obama said it best with “the measure of any society is how it treats its women and girls”. If in 2016, US Presidential candidate Donald Trump can refer to his predatory sexual remarks of women as “Locker Room” talk and Nigerian President Buhari can refer to his wife as “belonging to my kitchen, living room and other rooms” then the pursuit of equal social, political, economic and personal rights for women remains an uphill struggle.
Prominent men and women in politics have a responsibility to ensure that their words do not have a degenerating assumed or presumed impact on progress. From executive board rooms and businesses to homes, such remarks can have the particularly disturbing effect of perpetuating the disrespect women have endured for centuries and send the wrong message to the corporate and business world as well as the younger generation. Undoubtedly, both Trump and Buhari regret these remarks in light of the backlash from the media and public. While their remarks are by no means indicative of the majority view of men who are offended by their statements, it is my opinion that these remarks suggest an underlying prevalent thinking that is still present in our male dominated world. It represents unconscious prejudice towards women.
There must be a strong and unrelenting message from society that women will no longer be consigned to inferior positions whether at home, in the workplace or any other capacity. The modern woman is the first born of a mobile generation of independent, ambitious and able leaders. We are homemakers, highly driven career professionals, business owners and much more. Women have been doing this for centuries and should be respected and recognised for it.
The fight is not over for the recognition of women as indispensable leaders in the society and this condition of unconscious prejudice has no place in our society today. It is regressive not progressive, disrespectful not respectful and divisive not inclusive. Feminist men should rise up and be outspoken on this issue - don’t just speak, practice what you preach. Demonstrate at home and work that equal rights for all gender is critical for the exponential growth of society.
Society must not be complacent in nipping unconscious prejudice in the bud whether in public or the privacy of our homes. Unconscious prejudice in the minds of men or women is a subtle beast permeating progress like a drifting mist in the calm before the break out of a storm.
Let’s advance forward with one voice.