History | PSHE

‘We are all Angela Rayner now’ says MP

Can misogyny ever be stopped? The UK has been plunged into a furious row over sexism in politics. But many point out that the problem is much wider and more deep-rooted than ever.  Boris Johnson was so angry that he turned to Shakespeare to express his feelings. “It was the most appalling lot of sexist, misogynist tripe,” he said. “If we ever find the person responsible, I don’t know what we’ll do with them – but it will be the terrors of the earth.”  Johnson was referring to an article in the Mail on Sunday. It reported a claim by an unnamed Tory MP that Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, tried to distract Johnson in parliamentary debates by crossing and uncrossing her legs. The Tory MP allegedly suggested that Rayner had behaved in this way because of her poor education. “She knows she can’t compete with Boris’s Oxford Union debating training, but she has other skills which he lacks.” The speaker of the House of Commons, Sir Lindsay Hoyle, has condemned the article. The Independent Press Standards Organisation has received over 5,000 complaints about it. To some the outrageous allegation proves that Parliament is deeply sexist. Others believe that the Mail on Sunday hoped to discredit Rayner by printing the slur. Female MPs from all parties have expressed sympathy. “It must be said that the level of woman-loathing I have come across in politics is unrivalled by any place I have ever worked or lived,” wrote Jess Phillips in the Independent It has been revealed that 56 MPs are being investigated as part of the Complaints and Grievance Scheme (ICGS). The scheme was set up in 2018 to make it easier for parliamentary staff to report sexual harassment. According to a UN special rapporteur, Irene Khan, “Sexism and misogyny… have been heightened by the rise of populist, authoritarian and fundamentalist forces around the world… Women’s voices are suppressed, controlled or punished explicitly by laws, policies and discriminatory practices.”   Can misogyny ever be stopped? Wrecking sexism Yes: In a TV interview, Angela Rayner said that the public outcry has led her to believe that the incident could be a tipping point. The world can now be shown that not even MPs can get away with sexism. No: It is too deeply ingrained in too many cultures. If it persists in a relatively liberal country like the UK, there is no hope in countries where women are treated in law as second-class citizens. Or... Although sexism is a common problem, misogyny is not, and it is important not to confuse the two. Very few men actually hate women, though there are plenty who fail to treat them with the respect they deserve. KeywordsTerrors of the earth - In King Lear, Lear uses the phrase to threaten awful revenge on his daughters Goneril and Regan.

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