Progress can often be its own worst enemy. After a month in which the nation’s attention was diverted towards the inadequate understanding of the dangers women face from sexual predators, a new survey by King’s College London on perceptions of inequality reveals that the UK is exceptional among similar nations in its attitudes towards gender inequality.
In short, the British seem to have relegated gender inequality to the consigned-to-the-past category, with only 23% of those surveyed considering it a top concern.
Well, yes, perhaps because it might even be true. Britain is, as with much of Northern Europe, one of the most gender equal countries that ever existed. Might even be worth expending our efforts on some other problem as a result.
The people this poses a problem for are Guardian columnists. How to keep filling that page each week with whines?
In general, the King’s College report observed, British people were “much less likely to pick out inequality between men and women as a serious problem compared with other countries”; and countries that ranked higher than the UK in terms of gender equality still recorded higher levels of concern about gender issues. The link between Britain’s perception of itself in this regard and reality is seemingly as broken as it is in Saudi Arabia. We are much closer than we would like to think to countries where until recently women couldn’t drive. If we continue to congratulate ourselves on how far we have come, we can guarantee not only that progress will stall, but that ultimately it will be reversed.
Well, just keep whining, obviously.