Why are men in power granted impunity?
We see it over and over again: male directors continuing to make films despite allegations of sexual assault, male politicians thriving in their career despite sexist remarks, and now the ongoing debate about whether a Prince could be ‘above the law’.
What do these three men have in common? Power.
Power can be defined as having the ability or the capacity to influence the behaviour of other people or the course of events, and this is exactly what these, and numerous other men are doing. Their powerful status gives them the right to get away with things that the average person would not.
They are immune, almost the ‘exception’. But why is it always men? Because whether we like it or not, we continue to live in a patriarchal society, and power gives these men superiority over women to the extent that they can get away with it, and our society lets them. Politicians are a particularly interesting case, especially as these are the people we trust to best represent and lead the population. However, there are countless examples of male politicians who have done the opposite of that and in fact, belittle and criticise half of the population with their sexist language.
The important thing is that they all add to the inescapable picture: men getting away with discriminating against women
Take the example of Donald Trump, President since 2017, representing all Americans, men and women. Just to give you an idea of the number of sexist comments he has made, one female journalist has made it her mission to file and note these in the form of a ‘Donald Trump Sexism Tracker’. Some of these comments date back to before his role as President, yet he continues to be in such a powerful position.
This is part of a wider trend of men in politics who gain impunity despite who they are offending by their comments. Even in our own country, despite the large majority won in the recent election by Boris Johnson, he also has a track record of allegedly making sexist remarks towards both famous faces and the general public. In fact, similarly to Donald Trump, our newly elected Prime Minister has a long history of making such comments, the full list of which you can find here.
Many of you reading this may think these comments are just harmless jokes and perhaps I am being rather particular by singling out these ‘throwaway’ comments. However, the important thing is that they all add to the inescapable picture: men getting away with discriminating against women.
Now onto the most powerful of them all, Prince Andrew. Whether or not Prince Andrew was involved, young girls were forced to sleep with men for money and flown all over the world to do so, some as young as 14. These girls did not consent to these acts, they were lured, assaulted and passed onto the next man, like passive objects.
If proven guilty, this could become one of the most serious cases taken against a man with such power
If Prince Andrew is found guilty of involvement in this scandal, what will happen to him? Can a Prince really go to prison? We may be waiting a while for the answers to these questions due to recent news that he is proving reluctant to partake in assisting the US authorities in their investigation. If proven guilty, this could become one of the most serious cases taken against a man with such power. This is a case which has certainly gripped an international audience, eagerly waiting to find out the fate of a such a powerful man.
Whilst this article has discussed the immunity given to powerful men making sexist comments, a whole other area of research would be needed to delve into intersecting elements such as racism and homophobia. What is evident is that such men are demonstrating an attack and a belittlement of anything divulging from the powerful whiteness that they represent which makes them superior in society. How long is it before a new article can be written about these a male, with fresh comments and videos of their recent misogynistic behaviour?