If Boris Johnson wants to address 'casual everyday sexism' he should start with himself
The prime minister told parliament he wants to tackle “casual everyday sexism and apathy” - so why won’t he condemn his own?
The death of 33 year old Sarah Everard has triggered a national conversation about the sexism, harassment, and violence women in the UK face at the hands of men.
The government have claimed that they will take these matters seriously, and have promised to launch a serious of actions and inquiries onto the issue of abuse of women.
In parliament today, prime minister Boris Johnson appeared resolute in his determination to protect women and girls from sexism and abuse.
“We have to address the fundamental issue of the casual everyday sexism and apathy that fails to address the concerns of women - that is the underlying issue,” he said.
However, it seems that the prime minister is unable to disavow his own murky past when it comes to sexism and misogyny.
At the prime minister’s lobby briefing today, his spokespeople were asked multiple times whether Johnson regretted some sexist comments he had made in the past.
No condemnation of the comments was provided - which is disturbing, given the prime minister’s track record.
In a Telegraph column in 1997, he once suggested women were voting Labour due to the “fickleness of their sex.”
In another Telegraph column in 1998, he wrote that “emotional” women are often “blubbing blondes” or “collapsing with emotion.”
In 2005, he said that men should vote Tory because it will “cause your wife to have bigger breasts.”
During the 2012 Olympics, he said watching “semi-naked women playing beach volleyball” that were “glistening like wet otters” was “magnificent.”
In 2013, he interrupted then Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak - to suggest that Malaysian women go to university because “they’ve got to find men to marry.”
In 2018, he said it was “absolutely ridiculous” that Muslim women “choose to go around looking like letterboxes.”
And in 2019, a memo was leaked in which Johnson referred to his predecessor, David Cameron, as a “girly swot."
Johnson has even described Hilary Clinton as a “sadistic nurse in a mental hospital”, and likened her to “Lady Macbeth, stamping her heel, bawling out subordinates and frisbeeing ashtrays at her erring husband.”
The comments are alarming.
The prime minister claims he is a feminist - yet the opportunity to disavow these former comments was not taken.
Instead, they have been allowed to hang in the air, unchallenged - making a mockery of striving for gender equality.
How can this country address the “underlying issue” of misogyny Johnson speaks of if he turns a blind eye to his own?
If the prime minister and his government truly wish to address discrimination and bigotry against women, they need to start at Number 10.