In spite of how much we’ve progressed as a society, sexism is still a common issue that many of us face every day. It’s so widespread that, sometimes, we might not even recognise it as it’s happening. Or, because it’s so normalised, we might not even feel that it’s wrong anymore.
What Is Sexism?
Sexism is the stereotyping, discrimination, or prejudice towards a particular sex of which usually women or other minority gender groups are often the victim of. Whether it is the workspace, or any other public place for that matter, women and minority groups usually have to face a lot – you might get cat-called, ignored at your workplace, or mistreated at your university. Aside from the obvious, there are several things in our lives that we come across daily, but do notusually regard as sexism. Here are two examples.
1. Receiving Unsolicited Comments on Your Body
We often hear that we are too slim, too tall, too short, or too fat. Sometimes, even our skin colour makes other people feel like they need to comment on it. This is hardly pleasant for most people, but unfortunately, the majority of us never think of it as something worth taking action for, which is partly why it’s so normalised in society.
2. Being Asked About Marriage and Children
A common topic that comes up in everyday conversation is related to marriage and children. Believe me, this is sexism, too. Sometimes, even random people might ask if you’re married and, if not, they often have the audacity to ask the reason behind your marital status. They may also ask about the number of children you have, the reason for not having any or not having more, and other intimate details that shouldn’t concern them. All these questions are to single you out from others and judge you based on stereotypical traditions.
Another problem that women today face is the perception of ‘normal’ and the set of expectations placed on us to live by – irrespective of our feelings and thoughts. This, too, is a sexist approach as it does not let us live according to our beliefs, norms, and comfort. Instead, the world tries to change us to fit into a mould.
Even when women become successful despite all the odds set against us, sexism can still permeate in how we’re perceived. For instance, if employees at a company get to know that some women at work earn more than them, they might not consider their skills and abilities to be good enough to deserve the paycheck they get. Instead, they might point at their character and highlight the flaws in their personality – just because they can’t accept that women might be better than them at something.
I’m sure that you would’ve experienced at least one of the above-mentioned scenarios in your life. Depending on the social group you belong to, there is a chance that all these scenarios might apply to you in different ways. Interestingly, maybe you or others you know might not feel too bothered by this kind of behaviour, regardless of whether it’s directed at you or not. That is because of how normalised sexism is.
The problem is that we might think this is part of everyday life, but that’s simply not true. This behaviour has been informally taught from generation to generation – it’s not naturally occurring. Another thing about sexism? It isn’t always strangers or people we’re not close to who are responsible for discrimination or sexist behaviour.
Often, people we call family or those in our close circle – even women – are unaware of the part they play in promoting sexism and how it poisons society. That is why this is the right time to raise a voice against sexism, especially in our personal lives, as not doing so will only let the status quo continue and enable the creation of future sexist generations.