2012: The Year In Sexism


January. It is reported that on average a measly two out of ten speakers on the BBC’s Today programme are women. (Later in the year, John Humphrys is reduced to asking a man to “imagine” he is a woman in an all-male panel on breast cancer.)

February. The US radio-show host Rush Limbaugh calls the student Sandra Fluke a “slut” and a “prostitute” for speaking in favour of contraceptive coverage in health insurance plans. But at least he finally provides a decisive answer to the question: “How much of a tool do you have to be to make 67 firms pledge never to advertise on your show again?”

March. The infamous Uni Lad website returns after a brief hiatus and promptly begins spewing the same misogynistic vitriol about “smashing wenches”. (Minus its previous advice that low rape reporting rates represent “good odds”. So that’s better.)

April. The Sunday Times TV critic and noted Adonis A A Gill claims that the classicist Mary Beard is “too ugly for TV” and “should be kept away from cameras”. She gently points out that he has accidentally “mistaken prejudice for being witty”.

May. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in Gaining Weight While Pregnant Shocker. The media and thousands of fans lambast the Indian actress for failing to shed the extra pounds immediately post-partum. Special mention to those who accused her of “betraying her country”.

June. Two issues of Now magazine appear side by side on newsagents’ shelves. One reports that the model Abbey Clancy is “dangerously thin” and girls are starving themselves to look like her. The other offers diet tips to get her figure. Meanwhile, the European Commission launches a breathtakingly patronising video aimed at encouraging women into science: a masterpiece of dancing and giggling, with a pink background and make-up montages.

July. The blogger Anita Sarkeesian faces a viral hate campaign after merely proposing research into the tropes of women in video games. One geek feels so strongly that there is no problem with the portrayal of women in the medium that he creates an online game where players can punch Sarkeesian in the face.

August. In the US, the Republican science enthusiast Todd Akin proclaims that women’s bodies are magically able to ward off pregnancy in cases of “legitimate” rape. (To be fair, his research efforts were hampered because Mitt Romney had the binder full of women that day.)

September. “No More Page Three” campaigners are stunned into humiliated silence when the former Sun deputy editor Neil Wallis stymies them with the shock revelation that there are other problems in the world. Admirably, the Sun covers these important issues on page two, which incidentally doubles as the crucial buffer zone between the outraged anti-Jimmy Savile campaign on the front page and the teenage tits on page three.

October. Netmums pronounces feminism dead, on the somewhat amusing basis that only one in seven women self-defines as a feminist – giving it a nationwide “membership” numbering just under 4.5 million . . . more than ten times that of the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties combined.

November. PlayStation decides it’s a great idea to advertise its new Vita console using a picture of a woman with two sets of breasts and no head. I’ll just repeat that one. They advertise it using a picture of a woman. With two sets of breasts. And no head.

December. Just as I’m worrying that nobody will be stupidly, noteworthily sexist enough in the first few days of December to meet my deadline, FHM rides to my rescue in spectacular style with its astounding, assaultnormalising advice that readers shouldn’t borrow socks from their girlfriend/mother/victim. Cheers, FHM! Job done.

Author’s note: potential entries from Mail Online’s “sidebar of shame” were regrettably omitted from this article, amid rising concerns over the NS ink budget 

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