Sexism, unlike chivalry¹, is not dead. Too often am I met by some astoundingly stupid statements and double standards; I overhear some of these things from friends and relatives, from colleagues at work, from complete strangers on social media, or while gaming on my PC. I know that when the word “sexism” is used many of us are sexist enough to assume that we’re only talking about men. And while men are sometimes sexist, women are very often sexist as well, and it more often goes unnoticed. In this post, I’ll share some sexist things I’ve overheard/experienced, and why I think they are problematic. I hope that you’ll respond with your experiences of everyday sexism in the comments below.
“Are you really going to have that second cinnamon-bun? You need to run more, you’re getting fat.” Female relative about male spouse.
Why is this a problem? Well, let’s do a little something I like to call “flip the coin”. This is an exercise in which we find out whether a statement/action is sexist by seeing if it would work if the sexes were switched. Can you imagine a man saying this to his female spouse in front of her family without immediate outrage and cries of “how can you live with a chauvinist pig like that?”? I don’t think so (I HOPE not, otherwise whoa, your family sucks). And yet…
“She puts on all this special gear as if she was going to the gym or something, and then gets on the treadmill at home for half an hour.” Male relative about female spouse.
Here, the man – who was not in great shape himself – was mocking his female spouse for her work-out habits. How is that constructive? Just like Phoebe in Friends should get to run as she pleases, people should never be mocked for attempting to lead a healthier life.
“I’m going to see some male strippers this weekend. My mother is coming with, though she said she wanted to call my father and see if he was OK with it first. I laughed; I just called my husband and said ‘I’m going to see some male strippers’. I don’t ask.” Female co-worker.
This one stunned me into silence. I’m just picturing a “flip-the-coin” scenario wherein a husband calls his wife to inform her that he’s going to see some female strippers and she doesn’t have a say about it. Wow. Double standards much?
“She’s started wearing skirts now. She never liked wearing skirts, she always used to wear trousers. She’s a bit of a tomboy like that.” Mother about teenage daughter.
Hello??? Since when is wearing trousers “being a tomboy”? And how dare you use derogatory terms like that about your own child? But wait, there’s more…
“He looks like such a nerd! Have you seen Hollyoaks? He looks just like the teenage nerd boy in that!” Other mother about her young son now needing glasses.
Again… Hello??? Why on earth would you a) still be old-fashioned enough to think that glasses are a sign of nerdiness, b) consider nerdiness (i.e. being very passionate about some intellectual pursuit) to be something negative, and c) keep perpetuating this idea that if a boy is smart it’s mockworthy, but if he shows athletic prowess it’s praiseworthy? Step into the 21st century, people.
“Do any of you guys have wives? Because then you know that logic isn’t always logical.” Man on online game.
This one makes me grit my teeth no end, and I’ve heard it twice just in the last few months. Firstly, this one makes me laugh because LOGIC is ALWAYS LOGICAL! So congrats on that little fallacy, you idiot. Secondly, I know plenty of rational women. I WILL give you that I know a lot more irrational women than I know irrational men, but I also know a lot more men who’d be likely to cheat on their other halves if they were given the opportunity than I know women who would. Does that mean I’m going to perpetuate a negative myth by running around and shouting about how “All men are cheating bastards!”? Of course not! (Btw., I get really angry when I hear that one, most often said by women). Because these negative over-generalisations only contribute to the sexist problems we face right now.
“Women are better at multitasking, and men can’t do interior decorating.” Teenage girl.
Firstly it’s a myth that women are better at multitasking. Go look it up. It’s a myth that I myself believed in until I recently saw it debunked by the Factual Feminist (Christina Hoff Sommers), who by the way has a really good youtube channel you should go check out. Also, saying how men can’t do interior decorating a) presumes that men have no style or taste, and b) that all women do. How ridiculously sexist is that? I am not very good when it comes to interior decorating, and I’m sure I know a lot of men who would do a better job than me.
“Do you know where so-and-so is? I need to tell his skinny ass off for leaving his room in such a state!” Female employer about male employee.
Eherm, *cough flip-the-coin cough*… Can you IMAGINE a male employer making similarly insulting remarks about their female employee’s physique? It was remarked in the same work-place by another male employee that his female boss talks differently to him as he is a man, using a more direct, insulting, and less polite manner. If we want men to be more sensitive, empathetic and caring, women are going to have to start treating them with the same sensitivity and empathy that they treat other women.
Holding door every single time. Even when I was holding it, they had to take the handle and hold it for me. Older man in my university study-group.
See I usually like it when people hold doors for me, and I like holding doors for people. I tend to think that whoever gets to the door first should hold it for the people behind them. But when I get to the door first, and a man refuses to walk through it, but steps behind me to hold it for me? It’s more of an inconvenience, as I then have to let go the door awkwardly and then say “thanks” even though I was very happy to hold the door for them. Once again, it’s the 21st century. Women can hold doors, men can hold doors. Let’s all hold doors.
“Glitter beards: yes or no?” Post by Bored Panda shared on Facebook.
On an almost daily basis I see new hairstyles for women being raved about. I see talk about nail-trends and make-up trends, and for the most part I silently think to myself “huh, that looks a bit stupid” or “who would have the time/money to maintain that?” Firstly, I think that all the beauty-trends being posted for women all the time are sexist because they say that a) women have to care about what they look like to be considered feminine and b) if men care about what they look like they are not being masculine. But when I saw the Bored Panda post, and the subsequent comments from women saying how they thought men should/shouldn’t have glitter-beards, I was reminded by how very often I hear “Men shouldn’t get to have a say in what women should look like, they don’t own us, we dress however we want, it’s so sexist and misogynistic whenever a man says he likes a woman in a skirt” etc. Why is it so OK for women to constantly remark on how men dress, cut their hair, work out or not and so forth? Double standards.
I could probably think of a few hundred more, but this post has run on for long enough. Please comment with your everyday sexist statements/experiences, and why we need to highlight the hidden sexism in our lives if we want to make it GO AWAY.
¹P.S. Personally, I don’t think chivalry is dead. I know plenty of men and women who are polite and considerate, hold doors, carry things, exchange niceties, and generally do their best not to be a d!ck.