Friday, 25 April 2014

Everyday Sexism

by Sophie Parekh

Sexism: prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex!
(I thought I’d include the definition of sexism so everyone is on the same page as to what constitutes sexism, albeit there will be some degree of personal opinion!) is a project started by Laura Bates, where women report offensive things said or done to them because of their gender - i.e. sexism in everyday situations. I read about it recently and decided to look it up properly. I don’t quite know what I was expecting, but some of the things reported were horrible. There’s a link above to the website and you can find them on twitter: @EverydaySexism.
And now, for my own opinion on this sensitive and intriguing subject:
Most people will roll their eyes irritably at the word ‘feminism,' expecting what some on the internet call ‘feminazis’ raving and ranting on about how females are constantly objectified by perverted men and ranting. This stereotype has given the whole field of feminism a bad name, including the word "feminist" itself (albeit their opinions are entirely valid). Now, I would consider myself a feminist because I support “the advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes" - which, funnily enough, is what ‘feminist’ means!
The reason I decided to write this article was because I have been watching the Indian Premier
League (if you don’t know what it is, its cricket). When they went ‘back to the studio’ there were two men slouched on a sofa in chinos and casual shirt with no tie and a woman perched on the edge of her sofa with 6 inch heels on, a rather busty dress and a lot of red lipstick. Funnily enough, the woman was merely presenting the section and the two men were the ‘experts’ (one of them had played the grand total of one test match for India). Why couldn’t they have some female experts?

Now, I don’t know about you, but to me that says that the woman was only there to keep the male audience interested. A classic example of women being valued for their looks alone. Another is: why isn’t it commonplace for men to shave their armpits? I don’t know, but its strange how women are compelled by the media and society to do so, even though they have less of it. Seems odd don’t you think? 

Sexism isn’t always obvious. Sometimes, it is the odd commentor action that could be offensive - for example, wolf-whistling or inappropriate gestures. Why would you wolf whistle? To show your appreciation? For what exactly? A women’s body? You may think it’s flattering, but, for that to be the case, you should ask her whether she thinks it’s flattering. You don’t knowanything about this girl and yet you think it’s OK to make a judgement based entirely on what she looks like? If you answered yes to the last question, you shouldn’t be allowed into society, but, then again, is it society’s fault that you think that in the first place? I mean, many women see this as
normal until they stop to think about it. This links back to what I said earlier about everyday sexism.

Just as people (quite rightly) take racism so seriously and equality between all races, they should do
this for gender as well. "We are no different, in a greater perspective, as, when given the opportunity,

men and women can both achieve the same things” (to quote Maisie Riddle). This really hits home
because, as my Dad constantly reminds me, racial equality still isn’t fully achieved. No matter how
many immigrants come to the UK and ‘take everyone’s job,' they still only get the manual labour
jobs, like plumbers and builders. And guess who get most of the high-ranking jobs like MPs and bank managers? Oh yeah, white males.

Its funny how this frankly prehistoric view on the running of a country is still being carried out. I’m not sayingthat women should take over all the high ranking jobs, but, if girls weren’t called ‘bossy’ and constantly told they were beautiful by their parents (this emphasises that girls are only
valued for the way they look, not how they act) from a young age, perhaps the system would be fairer. Females make up 50% of the population after all. Another thing people seem to forget is that WE ARE THE SAME DAMN SPECIES. It's not llamas and elephants here!

I think the reason that feminism is so rejected, is because the people who have to accept it are men. And they, rather stupidly, pretty much control planet Earth. It would involve them doing strenuous and exhausting tasks such as washing up *gasp* and cooking *faints*. It would involve them not
using breasts to sell things and not paying women a lot less than men. It seems so petty on the face of it but, once you are set in your ways, you become pretty stubborn, a fatal flaw in the human character!

When I bring this up in conversation, people tell me ‘That’s just the way it is’ or ‘You're just going to have to get used to it’. Due to this, I have come to resent the word ‘just’. To me, it now means ‘Lay down in front of this train with an apple in your mouth and think about how life just isn’t fair’. Well, excuse me if this is too radical: I tend to spit the apple out and kick the driver (apologies for the laboured metaphor).
In short, nothing just happens. If something just happens, it probably shouldn’t. And in light of this, I will never live my life thinking I can’t change anything. It’s a horrible cliché, but you can change things (if you kick up a big enough fuss).

Take Rosa Parks. All she did was not get off the bus when asked and people still remember her name. My point is, if you find something said or done to you because of what gender
you are and you find that offensive, I give you my full permission to kick up a fuss worthy of John McEnroe, but with better hair hopefully. Because it's not OK.

1 comment:

  1. Great article Sophie. I still don't understand the debate about women going back to work AND coping with bringing up a family - if male partners accepted 50% of the responsibility there would be no problem! And you're right, nobody should have to put up with these things - they are wrong.


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