I not so long ago that women in the workplace were frequent recipients of institutional sexism from male colleagues. Inevitably there was ation from women and then came accusations of political correctness gone mad.
Now political correctness, in my experience, is a term of abuse issued from the mouths of chauvinistic men who have neither the wit nor sensitivity to recognise the abusive nature of their language or actions, and the unhealthy attitudes which lie behind them.
Undoubtedly, the views young men have towards women have largely changed over the past thirty years but the chauvinists are still with us, living in their past bubble, incapable of changing their behaviour.
The latent aggression contained within the muttered aside, the almost incidental put-down, is an expression of power relationship between the man and his target woman which exhibits contempt for her as subordinate to him.
Learnt behaviour by women is to feel threatened even by such petty outbursts of violence by men. Women can be intimidated even where there is no conscious intention to do so, although something more deep-seated may well be the motivation in the man’s actions. During their lifetimes, most women will have experienced occasions when they were the target of just such male attacks. Few will have led to anything major, such as physical violence, but the threat and uncertainties are there all the same.
For men who exhibit this type of behaviour it is a common reaction, when challenged, to dismiss the incident as trivial. They may express disbelief that the woman should feel in any way intimidated. This is because such men regard male superiority over women as a given: men brought up in a macho culture, who may have moved on socially but who are unable to shake off their views of their natural dominance over the little woman. Their egos prevent them reassessing their own actions, so comfortable are they within their own spectrum of prejudices, that the incident is turned around and blame pinned firmly onto the target – one further manipulation of the bully to control his victim.