Are You Being Sexist Without Realizing It?
So you think you’re a feminist?
You’re very well equipped with all the Emma Watson quotes from her UN speech, you support your local girl gang, you’re a huge fan of Beyoncé, and you’re ready to pick up a fight with anyone who ever says, “you throw like a girl.”
But are you really a feminist?
More often than not, women pick on other women for doing things that they don’t want them to. We shame other women for doing things that might defer from our norm. It’s not because we want to be sexist or anything, it’s just because sexism has embedded itself so deeply in our society that sometimes the fine line between feminism and sexism gets a little blurred.
You might be rallying for women in the political sphere, but there are probably instances when you’re being sexist without even realizing it.
Here are five ways that you may (unconsioucly, of course) be being a wee bit sexist:
Are her clothes too short for your liking?
How many times have you seen a woman walk past you in shorts that were too short for your liking? And how many times have you thought less of that woman just because of her choice of clothing? Yes, she may be self-objectifying, but that warrants sympathy, not criticism.
You might not realize this, but asking women to cover up their body only fuels body shaming and rape culture. It stigmatizes the female body and soon it becomes all too easy for people to put the blame on the rape victim for wearing a “provocative” dress.
Why should we cover up? Why can’t we, instead, teach guys not to think of women as sexual objects?
Young girls have been taught from a very young age to be afraid of their own bodies. Having a mandatory dress code only for girls is completely sexist. It’s basically teaching young girls how to body shame — and how they are supposed to cover up their bodies so that boys can study in a distraction-free environment. Girls’ bodies aren’t distractions and if any of the boys are getting distracted by it then it’s their problem, not ours. So why should we cover up? Why can’t we, instead, teach guys not to think of women as sexual objects?
I understand that dress codes are necessary to maintain uniformity in a place. Dress codes are everywhere, in hospitals, schools and even at parties. But these dress codes should be mandatory to both girls and boys. Sending a girl back home from school just because she broke the dress code sends a message that the school values creating a distraction-free area for boys to study more than the girl’s education. We all are allowed to wear whatever we want and we shouldn’t be judged harshly because of our clothing choices.
Is she wearing too much makeup?
The general standard of beauty has been so thoroughly shaped by men that we’re all falling for it without giving it a second thought. A lot of the time, women are taken less seriously because of what they decide to do with their face. If we put on too little or no makeup, we’re dry and boring. If we put on too much makeup then we’re surely unintelligent. It’s about time that we stop defining each other because of how we choose to look.
If I could get a penny for the number of times I’ve been told to not do a certain thing because boys wouldn’t like it, I’d be rich.
Does the Hijab scare you?
The same goes for a woman who is covering up her body more than you normally do (and it isn’t cold outside). Have you ever seen a woman walk by in a hijab or a burqa and felt sympathy for her, assuming she’s succumbing to the pressure of a sexist culture?
There seems to be this trailing misconception going around that Muslim women who chose to wear a hijab do so because they are forced by their religion or because of male family members. But many Muslim women say that they wear the burqa because they truly want to. This can come from various aspects of their lives including respecting their religion, wanting to continue with their family tradition, or simply because they feel empowered when they cover themselves.
I had once asked my Muslim friend why she chose to wear the hijab every day. She had replied to me saying, “I wear the hijab every day because I feel so empowered to know that I am defying the societal standard of beauty set to please the male gaze.”
So ladies, don’t be afraid of the hijab. It’s another piece of clothing that women use to define themselves and endow themselves with their own authority.
Is her choice different from yours?
The twenty-first century is a good century to be alive because most of us have the liberty to own our reproductive choices. There are plenty of women out there who never want to have kids and there are plenty who do. But every time a young woman tries to tell someone that she doesn’t want to have kids, she’s shut down and told that “she’ll change her mind.” Do you really want to force your personal concept of a happy and satisfied life on another woman? Let’s accept that a woman’s womb doesn’t make her a woman and embrace each other’s unique life decisions.
Is she being too assertive?
For centuries women have let men tell us what to do (because we often felt like we didn’t have a choice). But, now that we finally feel like we have the right to be heard as well, we’re being told that we’re too loud. Women often restrain themselves from raising their voice because everyone’s almost too quick to tell us that we’re being rude. But how many times has a male boss raised his voice and gotten praised for getting work done?
If you see a woman owning her career and taking on a leadership role, go and support her. Don’t tell her that she’s being “bossy” just because she wants to get work done. I don’t hear anyone calling a man “bossy” because he’s being a good leader. We have to teach young girls that taking on actual responsibility and handling it like a boss doesn’t make them any less attractive to anyone. Only then can they grow up to dominate their career of choice.
Kudos to you if you’ve never fallen into any of these societal traps. But, if you have, don’t beat yourself up for it. It’s not too late to get up, brush your knees, brace your shoulders, and walk around the world with your chin up and eyebrows on point like a true feminist that you are.