Today in news that disappoints but may not really surprise you: just two months into 2018, a lot of sexist things have already happened, not just in the United States but across the globe. It's only February and we've already seen reports of gross sexual harassment at a U.K. charity dinner, women inmates being denied proper feminine hygiene products, government officials abroad trying to limit women's access to an abortion, and more.
Of course this isn't a complete list, and it'd be misleading to say that sexism has been limited to these examples so far this year. An instance of sexism that doesn't perfectly illustrate a larger systemic problem or make national and international headlines isn't any less bad. These are just the stories that stuck out like a (particularly ugly) sore thumb.
1. Sexual Harassment Scandal At A British Men's Charity Dinner
According to an explosive investigative report by the Financial Times, the President's Club hosted a men's-only charity dinner for decades where hostesses experienced shocking incidents of sexual harassment. Hostesses told the newspaper that guests spoke lewdly to them and fondled and grabbed them without consent. The Financial Times' report includes this disturbing example:
The worst I was told by one of the hostesses was a man taking his penis out during the course of the dinner. The other one was another man telling a hostess to down her glass of champagne, rip off her knickers and dance on the table.
Less than 24 hours after the report was published, the club disbanded after saying it "will not host any further fundraising events. Remaining funds will be distributed in an efficient manner to children’s charities and it will then be closed."
2. A Battle For Pads & Tampons In Arizona Women's Prisons
In a particularly humiliating example of sexist treatment of prison inmates in Arizona, Republican state Rep. T.J. Shope refused to hear a bill that would have given female inmates proper feminine hygiene products. Female inmates in Arizona have to work 27 hours to earn menstrual pads.
The bill, proposed by Democratic state Rep. Athena Salman, would require that women in the Arizona state prison system be given free and unlimited feminine hygiene products. Currently, inmates are given just 12 tampons. An inmate can request an extra pad, but would have to ask an officer who could refuse the request. The Arizona Department of Corrections recently said that it would be limiting the number of pads that an inmate gets to 36 per month.
3. The Polish Government Pushes An Anti-Abortion Bill
At the international level, abortion access in Poland became a testy issue in January when thousands of women carried out a symbolic protest against the government's anti-choice politics. Women donned black clothes and masks to march after the Polish government pushed a bill that would prohibit women from getting an abortion if they sought to terminate a fetus with congenital abnormalities.
The head of the Federation for Women and Family Planning in Poland, Krystyna Kacpura, told The Guardian, "We are treated as unneeded – we are just there to give birth, and if we give birth to a very sick child, we are left to bring the child up by ourselves without any help."
4. Alleged "Structural Sexism" At A Top Hedge Fund
In the world of finance, Lauren Bonner, an associate director for the hedge fund Point72, filed a lawsuit against the firm's founder Steven Cohen alleging that the company suffered from "structural sexism."
Bonner alleged that the company exhibited a "boys' club" mentality, where things like "no girls allowed" were reportedly said by male employees. The company has responded to the accusations, saying, "The firm emphatically denies these allegations and will defend itself in a more appropriate venue than the media."
5. Gender Inequality At The Winter Olympics
Just 43 percent of the athletes participating in the 2018 Winter Olympics are women, and some are speaking out about the lack of equal representation in the games. For instance, in men's hockey there are 12 teams competing; there are only eight in women's hockey. In the biathlon, men are given longer distances to cover than women.
The gender imbalance in the number of men's and women's Olympic events is an issue American ski jumper Sarah Hendrickson brought up in January. "How nice would it be to have more than one event at the Olympics? Equality dreams," she tweeted. Another U.S. athlete who's vocal about getting women an equal number of Olympic ski jumping events, Abby Ringquist, tells Bustle, "I think they’re mostly just afraid a woman can jump farther than a man in a male-dominated sport."
6. A "Sexist" Dress Code In A Wisconsin School District
Gender inequality in schools is nothing new, but the most recent high-profile example involved students in Kenosha, Wisconsin complaining that the dress code at the Indian Trail High School discriminated against female students.
A senior at the school, Alexa Grosz, told a local CBS affiliate, "Females are disproportionately punished for violating KUSD dress code." Another senior, Alicia Lorta, told the news station that the school's dress code against wearing leggings on their own ended up punishing "curvier girls ... more than thinner girls." The school is currently reviewing its dress policy, according to that report.
7. Sarah Sanders Tells Nancy Pelosi To Just Smile More
Men frequently tell women to "smile more," but you might be surprised to learn a high-profile woman in the White House recently made the same unsolicited suggestion to a female lawmaker. In January, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders suggested that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi should "smile more often." Sanders was talking about Pelosi's facial expression at President Donald Trump's first State of the Union address.
The press secretary forgot to mention that female politicians are already told to smile "more," while their male peers aren't given these unsolicited suggestions. This is a problem: telling women to smile more suggests that women should be responsible for making everyone feel comfortable, and that's not a woman's job.
8. A Fake Porn App Could Make The Revenge Porn Problem Worse
In February, Mother Jones reported that a user on Reddit created an app that would allow anyone with a fairly good handle on algorithms to create fake porn videos by superimposing a person's face on a porn actor's body. The implications of that are alarming. In terms of revenge porn, the app could lead to victims seeing fake porn videos of themselves. Perhaps even worse, as Bennet Kelley, the founder of the Internet Law Center, told Bustle, current law might not be able to do anything to protect those victims. Still, there's some good news: Reddit banned fake porn communities recently.
These are just some of the examples of sexism that have hit the headlines in the first few months of the year. But it's pretty clear that we have a lot of work to do to fight bias against women in 2018.