This Is What Sexism Looks Like
Sexism is a pretty straightforward idea—discrimination based on sex, towards women. It’s such a simple concept, yet so complex at the same time. It manifests on so many different levels, in so many different ways. It can be obvious to everyone or harder to identify. It’s a tricky beast… so I’m going to explain it to you in plain language.
Sexism is not being trusted to make decisions about your own body. It is being called a slut for having sex, using birth control, or even flirting. It’s being treated like a second-class citizen for getting pregnant out of wedlock. It’s being verbally assaulted by groups of people for walking into an abortion clinic. It’s being called a welfare queen for needing government assistance to feed, clothe, and send your child to day care.
Sexism is being approached by a stranger—on the street, at a bar, anywhere—and being cat-called, complimented, objectified, and expected to react positively. It’s being called ugly, a bitch, and a whore when these advances are met with rejection. It’s having to worry constantly about someone slipping a drug in your drink, or being attacked on the walk home.
Sexism is blaming people for their own abuse, assaults, and rapes. It’s telling someone their outfit was too revealing, they flirted and led their rapist on, and they were drinking too much. It is telling them they were asking for it. Sexism is implying that someone is lying about being raped. It is denying that rape within committed relationships exists. It is trying to define some rapes as legitimate, and others illegitimate.
Sexism is expecting everyone to reinforce the gender binary. It is calling a woman butch for cutting her hair short, working on cars, and playing sports. It’s telling a guy to ‘man up’ because he likes to bake. It’s using any insult that implies womanhood to degrade a man for not living up to society’s expectations of what a man looks like… a little bitch, a pussy, don’t let the door hit you in the vagina on the way out. It’s the notion that the worst thing you could possibly be is a woman. It’s the way custody battles are treated in court. It is the expectation that the woman will get custody, because women are caregivers and men go to work. Because any woman who puts her career before family is heartless, and any man who puts family before his career is whipped.
Sexism is the objectification of women. It is replacing a woman’s face with a picture of a car in an ad, while still showing her breasts. It’s expecting women to always appear attractive, with a full face of makeup, low-cut shirt, and tight pants… while also telling women that they don’t need makeup to be beautiful, that a plain tee and jeans is just as sexy. It’s calling women who appear the latter way ugly, frumpy, and boring… and those who appear the former, slutty. Sexism is the ridiculous double standard that exists in sexual freedom. It is labeling women who enjoy sex as sluts, while high-fiving men with multiple partners.
Sexism is the glass ceiling and the pay gap, both of which still exist. It’s a woman getting paid at least 30% less to do the same job as a man , with the same amount of experience. It’s a woman not even being considered for a promotion. It’s telling women that we are not assertive enough to get promotions.
Sexism is the dismissal of all of this as trivial. It’s being silenced by a patriarchy and told that none of this matters.
There is so much more to sexism than this. I do not expect it to disappear overnight. Centuries of discrimination and misogyny are not fixed with a snap of a finger. But denying sexism doesn’t help anything. We need our peers, our leaders, and our society to acknowledge it and take this seriously in order for any progress to be made. Sexism affects everyone.
Written by Alisse Desrosiers
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