I’m ashamed to admit at the age of 21, I have only just truly learned the definition of ‘sexism’ and ‘feminism’. In my little bubble, affectionately known as ‘Callingshite’, I was rarely faced with sexism, the only things I believed to be sexist was the glaringly obviously comments like “Women belong in the kitchen”, however I was not to take that to heart because very few people say things like that and are not joking, admittedly I was unfortunate to have the sexist chemistry teacher that would tell the girls to not worry if they are struggling because “Girls can’t do science.” Other than that there was the “I should be fair with my pronouns when referring to hypothetical/inanimate objects” and to confront boys on the playground when they said other boys “Threw like a girl.” These were fairly petty, the outright sexism can be easier to deal with (sometimes) as they are confrontational, and therefore call for confrontation in return – as well as this, you will not find many people that are willing to agree with such outright claims, so the label ‘sexist’ was far easier to apply. I did not however, know that there was so much more to sexism in 21st century Britain, why would I? This isn’t the middle ages, we are all equal now, right?
In case you were wondering, here is the OED definition of the word ‘feminism’, ‘The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.’ This should put to rest any stereotypes of feminism being a form of ‘man-hating’, if you are sexist towards men or women, you are not a feminist. You can call yourself a feminist, but you’re not one. End of. Piss off. And if you think “Well we/you can vote now, right? There, job done.” I am going to raise a few simple points that will *hopefully* make you realize that feminism still has a long way to go, just saying “Well, it’s come a long way” doesn’t mean that it’s not okay to stop, it is nice to look back on our progress now and then and be thankful that we are born in a time a lot kinder than before, but that does not make today a good day, just a better one.
I’m going to start with my all time biggest pet peeves, “Girls are just so complicated!”. I should probably say that context, with many of these points, is very important as well. There’s a difference between a broken hearted guy, saying this to his mates to make himself feel better, all the while knowing that he doesn’t mean it and his friends aren’t ignorant enough to take it literally too, then to just say it when you haven’t understood one individual’s’ actions and therefore want to label the rest of the female population as ‘complicated’ with negative connotations. There are many reasons why this annoys me, for a start we have a serious case of ‘double standards’, why is it that when a woman acts irrationally it’s down to her being a woman and being ‘so darn complicated’, yet when it’s a man he’s either an asshole, does not get called upon at all, or his act is discussed to try and find the root of his action. How is this fair? Empathy goes a long way, maybe if people tried it a little more then wouldn’t label people as ‘complicated’, at least quite so often. An example of this whole ‘complicated’ label came up recently, a friend of mine was getting close to a girl when she suddenly called it off because she had a long term boyfriend, “Girls are so complicated!”, yet a friend of ours encounters things like this fairly regularly with boys and it’s never “Men are so complicated!” it’s always “Well that guy is an asshole!”. However, cases like this can lead to misogyny which I will come back to later. People are generally complicated beings, I haven’t met a person that isn’t complex in their own way, we are all shaped through our experiences, good and bad and that is what leads us to the decisions we make, people may claim that boys are far more ‘easy to understand’ and ‘laid-back’, but once you get to know a person you know that no one is that simple, and good. What a boring thing to be. Another reason this might occur is sexism towards men, for some reason men are lead to believe that they shouldn’t open up, they shouldn’t show their feelings as openly as women in fear that they will be ‘less of a man’, leading me right to my next point…
Misogyny should also not be tolerated, feminism is the belief that men and women are equal, so as I said before, you can’t be a feminist and also be misogynistic. Calling men ‘pussies’ when they show a bit of emotion, or labelling them as ‘camp’ or ‘gay’, leads to a whole lot of other issues, as well as being completely disgusting behaviour towards men. It may be that women come across more ‘complicated’ than men because they are able to be a little bit more open with the way they express their feelings than most men. By calling them ‘pussies’ or likening them to women, you are actually saying that femininity is a negative thing, and if you add this factor to implying that a man is ‘gay’ you are also implying that being gay is to be ‘less of a man’, are you for real right now? Have you heard yourself recently? If I had a son that didn’t feel that he could be open with his feelings with people, or show certain emotions for the reason that he will be ‘less of a man’, I would know that I had done something seriously wrong, how about you?
Another far more serious case of misogyny is when it comes to abuse in relationships. Abuse is not about physical strength, it’s about manipulation – any type of person can be an abuser and any type of person can be abused, it is not always necessarily down to sexism when a man beats his girlfriend/wife, however it is sexist to not take a claim from a man being abused by his wife/girlfriend seriously because he is a man. It’s as disgusting and it does exist. Laughing when you hear it (like in a certain Jezza Kyle episode), is as ridiculously ignorant as asking “Why doesn’t he/she just leave them?” It takes a horribly manipulative person to trap someone in an abusive relationship and they be men or women.
If you want proof that all women are different and all men are different, then take a look at these abusers. If we can say “All women are___” and “All men are ___” then what about abusers, etc. Are all men horrible because ‘most guys I know are assholes’, or all women are complicated because ‘most women I know are complicated’? They say that in an average lifetime we meet (more than a wave/smile/small talk) around 5,000 people, assuming half are women that’s only 0000000000.7% of the world’s population, are women you have met and ever will meet. All of them could be vile, racist, sexist, homophobic, wife beaters that eat children and kick puppies, what has that got to do with the rest of the population of women? You know such an insignificant amount of them, what gives you the right to make generalizations. Sure, you could take into account viral videos and stupid Facebook comments that someone has shared on their wall, but bear in mind that you have to do something spectacularly good, downright stupid or something really bad for your video or posts to go viral, that’s assuming you are noticed. What kind of idiot would take that as a good representation of gender?
Speaking again of double standards, I have recently viewed a few YT videos on feminism and many of the speakers raise the same point, which I had never really thought of until now. How come, when a girl takes up a leadership position she is labelled ‘bossy’ or ‘a bitch’, yet when a man does it is fine, and often a positive thing? For example, when I worked as a cleaner in Tesco, there was a male manager there, he was a horrible person but a strong leader and everyone applauded him for it, yet the female manager was often called a bitch behind her back, even though on a personal level she was a lot nice, she was no better or worse at her job than the man, yet she was treated differently. When you’re at school you call girls ‘bossy’ when they tell you what to do when there were a lot of ‘bossy’ boys too, yet you rarely hear a boy being referred to as ‘bossy’, even when they’re behaviour is the same
And of course, why is it that girls get picked on more for their looks than boys, not that boys haven’t already been put under massive pressure by the media to have the perfect body (once again, using their masculinity as a weapon against them), but it seems even worse for women. No one should be put under those kind of pressures, but I don’t think it’s a secret that women’s sexuality are far more exploited to sell products than men’s, the worst thing about it is the objectification, I don’t understand how someone could watch a woman being completely objectified and not feel physically sick, but a lot of people don’t, they buy into it or make pervy comments, or laugh along if the context is intended to be comedic.
Comedy is also rife with sexism, and not in the way people may think. There are a lot of good comedians that make sexist jokes, for example Jimmy Carr, and representing the girls we have Victoria Wood, both make sexist jokes yet you know they are not sexist. The joke is always on the stereotype, and these comedians are intelligent enough to make it work. When Jimmy Carr makes a joke about women you know he is making the stereotype look ridiculous, and often makes light hearted fun out of the people that fit into the stereotypes. Same with Victoria Wood, only her jokes are about men. If you laugh with them thinking “It’s funny because what they are saying is true of every woman/man” then you didn’t get the joke, congratulations, you’re a fucking idiot. Just because they are relating the stereotypes to people they know, doesn’t mean that the subject of the joke has changed, I’d suggest maybe you switch to comedians like Jim Davidson and Roseanne Barr accordingly. (I know a lot of people like Roseanne and categorize with the former, but I disagree – sorry guys!).
Sexism towards women, by other women is just as bad as a man being sexist towards a woman, or a man being sexist towards men (as discussed earlier). You want to have the same respect as men? Then show people how it’s done. Who are we trying to impress here? There are only men and women, men that are sexist can not just decide to have the final rule, they can not set the norm because we know we are all equal, imagine a world where men had been viewed as inferior throughout history, it’s exactly the same. So why then would you put yourself in a worse position? Act like we are equal, say that we are equal and one day we will be equal. One day a man will not be called ‘less of a man’ because he chose to stay at home to raise his children, rather than being the breadwinner. On the flip side, a woman would not be viewed as less maternal for being the breadwinner.
So to conclude, sexism doesn’t end because ‘things are a lot better now’. I should not have to work harder to prove my worth just because I am a woman. And if you think that it is acceptable to make someone feel like that, then you can not possibly be a nice person. Nice sexists only exist in the elderly community when a sexist comment from them usually ends in rolling of eyes or a tut. And if you have read all of this, and think I’m just complaining for the sake of it, imagine how all this would have sounded if a man had written it (relevant edits made, of course), how much more seriously would you take it then?