What is sexism?

I often see feminism defined, less so for sexism, especially the type of sexism that isn’t overly noticeable, the kind that is often brushed under the table.

Sexism is not just wage inequality, discriminatory laws or the place of women in positions of power. Sexism also exist on the micro scale, in subtle, insidious, and especially daily words and gestures.

Sexism is:

    • A little girl who is reprimanded for being too loud, while her brother is aloud to be as loud as he wants to be.
    • A math teacher who encourages his male students but ignores girls in class.
    • A student who is criticized for her lack of humor because she does not laugh sexist “jokes” of her comrades.
    • A woman who is constantly interrupted by her male colleagues in a meeting. Men who systematically cut the floor. On the Web, thousands of women told their mansplaining experiences and manterrupting, and expressed their fed up.
    • The phenomenon of men explaining to women how they should think or giving them a class on a subject that concerns them directly has been baptized mansplaining. This unfortunate tendency of many men to believe themselves to be more learned than others is materialized everywhere: in work meetings, in university classrooms, at the corner of a conversation on the Internet.

If the common sexism goes unnoticed for many, it is heavy to carry on a daily basis for women. The common sexism comes from the practices and the sexual stereotypes which are omnipresent in our societies. It feeds on the most clichéd stereotypes. Common sexism is not synonymous with anti-feminism. Anti-feminism is a more virulent manifestation of sexism, more in aggression and the rejection of gender equality. Men can indeed be for gender equality but have sexist behaviors without realizing it. Women themselves, if they have internalized sexism.

Unfortunately, common sexism often mixes with other forms of ordinary discrimination, and affects minority women differently.

If common sexism are present in the office, in educational institutions, in the streets and on public transportation, it is probably in the intimacy of the couple that it is the most insidious and difficult to fight. The organizational weight of the family and the home is still essentially female, while men see themselves as the kind person who will do the service, take out the garbage, and expect to be thanked in return. For women, preparing vacations, managing children’s lunches or thinking about the next school outing are some of the ordinary things expected of them, and for which they never receive thanks, moreover. The common sexism practiced in the intimacy of the heterosexual couple and the home can become particularly heavy. It is even more difficult to change that men do not necessarily feel responsible. Thank goodness, my husband was raised by a single mom and doesn’t think like this. I’m one of the lucky ones.




3 thoughts on “What is sexism?

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  1. My dad holds a lot of sexist views but would adamantly deny it if it was pointed out to him. I think part of the anti-feminist backlash has to do with certain feminist groups who express views like all men are potential rapists. All individuals, regardless of sex/gender are potential sexual abusers/murderers/etc but statements like that just alienate people rather than unite them in the fight against sexism.

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