Are You Being Sexist Without Realizing It?

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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?

Are You Being Sexist Without Realizing It?

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.

Are You Being Sexist Without Realizing It?

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.

Are You Being Sexist Without Realizing It?

Resist the urge to judge her

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.

  • 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.

Are You Being Sexist Without Realizing It?

Support you sisters!

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.

Avatar of Paakhi Bhatnagar

Paakhi lives in the United Arab Emirates and is an avid reader of historical fiction. She is a passionate feminist and blogs about politics and feminist issues. She likes to listen to music and document her life in a series of journals she will probably never show to anyone.

Reader Discussion: 39 Comments

  1. Avatar of Juana Gross

    Juana Gross

    Most of the time we’re not aware of what we’re doing. I’m one of those people that will roll my eyes whenever I would see a girl wearing something that’s too short. I probably won’t say anything about it, but in my head I probably had so many things going on in there even though I’m not mean enough to say it out loud. I didn’t know that all of these things count as being sexist. I thought it was a normal response to seeing something that I find inappropriate.

  2. Avatar of Amelia Lewis

    Amelia Lewis

    I’m not going to deny that I haven’t done this, ever, because yes, I did.?

  3. Avatar of Antoinette Morris

    Antoinette Morris

    I feel guilty because I didn’t know that these things are sexism. I’m so sorry for those that I judged wrongly.

  4. Avatar of Johanna Kelly

    Johanna Kelly

    We live in a society that wearing something short can be literally provocative and can cause trouble for women. I know I shouldn’t be teaching my daughter to cover up her body or to pull her dress down just so it’s not too short, but it’s better than not being safe out there. If we don’t issue warnings to these kids/teens, we’re only leading them to danger. I don’t think it’s safe for them if we don’t start telling them or educating them about safe touches or the extent that physical contact should be permitted.

    • Avatar of Diana Dryn

      It’s not like we can QUICKLY educate men not to rape or harm women. Which is why we result to things like this.

  5. Avatar of Jan Ryan

    Jan Ryan

    No women wants to be objectified but is there even a way to stop it? I strongly believe that objectification of women shouldn’t be a thing, but after reading this article, I was surprised that sometimes I still end up judging others.

  6. Avatar of O L I V E R A

    Women being bossy is better than men being bossy. Why do we always have to judge women? We should stop.

  7. Avatar of TARA WRIGHT

    Let’s not always blame men for sexism. Sometimes I don’t even want to read things like this because we always end up hating men.

  8. Avatar of Tara Pavlovic

    I don’t even notice anymore that what I’m doing is sexist. I feel like it’s more accurate to call it “judging” or being “judgmental”.

  9. Avatar of Kathy Sannn

    Sorry but no matter how much we want to put a stop about women being objectified, we’ve already gone way too far to go back. It’s already been etched in our minds that we have to have a certain length in our shorts or skirts in order to be “respected”. Women who are considered classy and decent needs to behave at a certain manner, while whores are degraded to an extent. We’ve labeled ourselves to the point that it can’t be undone. Personally, it’s not something that I agree with but it already exists.

    • Avatar of Estelle

      I sometimes think of this too. We all have standards in our heads that automatically lead us to judging others.

  10. Avatar of Kathy

    Sometimes, the amount of sexism that we do isn’t all that bad. I mean, if someone doesn’t act properly, of course the person would be judged by it. It’s not even society’s fault.

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