Even a woman could do it

Updating to add: it’s now being reported that there are rumors this is a falsehood, originating perhaps with Boris Johnson.

Some more banal sexism:

Philip Hammond has provoked bewilderment and anger with his suggestion that driving a train is so easy that “even a woman could do it”. Theresa May has done little for women’s rights but even she was shocked, slapping down her Chancellor with a curt remark.

Yet egregious as these ministerial reflections were – and we’ve had a few, in these grim Brexit times – they are not as out of tune with the age as we like to think.

[T]ake Wimbledon. Female players have complained that men are more likely to be put on show courts, while Andy Murray had to correct a reporter who said that an American had not reached a Grand Slam semi-final since 2009 – overlooking the dozen major trophies placed on the mantelpiece since then by a certain Serena Williams.

Oh but he said “an American.” Serena Williams is an American woman – whole different category. There are Americans, and there are American women. Let’s not get confused here.

It is, of course, easy to dismiss this as trivial. Certainly anyone who complains of sexism is marked down as humourless. But the Conservatives can sometimes resemble the lower sixth of a 1950s public school. David Cameron told a female MP to “calm down, dear”, while Tory MPs have been accused of cupping their hands and mouthing the word “melons” when female MPs rise to speak. Nicholas Soames even described the “woof woof” noises he felt moved to make at a female MP as a “friendly canine salute”.

In part this is offensive because no one in 2017 should have to work in an environment where sexism is apparently tolerated. But more importantly, politicians making these remarks are also making the rules for how the entire female population is treated.

Because women are too stupid to do it, plus melons, phwoarrrr.

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