(Trying) to blog against sexism March 8, 2006Posted by Winter in sexism.
By yesterday morning we were emailing each other: “What the hell are we going to write about for Blog Against Sexism Day?” We were stuck. For some reason, the prospect of writing about sexism produced more than usually bank minds. Why? Because it’s just too BIG! Sexism, I mean SEXISM, is just such a vast topic. Sexist oppression and exploitation are everywhere, so where do we even begin?
After the “Ladies Night” at the Students’ Union, we sat in the pub and decided to write about what angers us most in our everyday lives. But first, it’s important to say that we’re very aware that our lives are white, western, and enormously privileged in comparison to most women in the world, so we would like to say that we don’t in any way feel that sexism effects us as hideously as it does most other women around the world. That said, here are some of the things that really get to us:
First, we hate that so many people in the rich west insist that sexism is no longer an issue or is, at most, a minimal issue. We’ve met supposedly, liberal, enlightened people, men and women, who claim that since we have all this legislation in place, there’s no longer a problem. As Siberian Falls observed, the situation has changed, but sexism has become more insidious rather than disappeared. Even more worryingly, the anti-political correctness backlash has managed to bestow certain “coolness” upon sexist attitudes. Siberian Falls told us the story of the consultant who refers to female colleagues as “chickie.” He knows he’s being offensive because he’s quick to say “It’s harmless,” “It’s just a bit of fun.” “Just a bit of fun.” Haven’t we all come to shudder at that phrase which has become the excuse for all manner of appalling behaviors. I’m sure it’s true that sexism is enormous fun for sexists, but not for the rest of us.
That’s something else that really gets to us – the way men use language to belittle women in a professional context. Calling a colleague “chickie,” “luv,” “sweetheart,” or “darlin” constantly reminds her that a power relationship exists (we tried to come up with male equivalents. We couldn’t come up with any, not a single one). These words remind her that, at the end of the day, she is a woman rather than a professional. Irrespective of how hard you’ve worked and what you’ve achieved, men are still ascribed the power to put you back in your female place, to reduce you to childlike status.
We hate that it doesn’t matter how much you legislate, women are still judged on their appearance wherever they work and if you don’t work to fit the norm, you are considered “different.”
We hate the constant media hysteria about barren wombs and birth shortages. We also hate the way this discourse masks an agenda which is as racist and classist as it is sexist. They do not mean women (in general) go forth and procreate. What they really mean is middle-class, university-educated white women please go forth and procreate. Otherwise, could you kindly keep your legs shut, we have teenage pregnancy targets to reach” and we’re worried that there won’t be enough “decent” people in the next generation.
We hate the fact that women’s sexual activity is still a cause for insult while for men it’s a cause of celebration and status.
We hate the fact that if something happens to us while we’re walking home at night, we will be blamed for it: “It’s terrible what happened, but what was she doing walking home on her own like that?” How can people say sexism doesn’t exist when women still don’t have the right to walk around at night on their own without being considered prey?
We hate the fact that we need consent awareness campaigns.
We hate “Extreme Makeover.” In the future will most women think they need radical cosmetic surgery just to achieve the norm?
We hate the fact that America seems to be backsliding in relation to women’s rights. If this can happen in the richest most powerful country in the world, what message does that send to the rest of the world where women are fighting to progress? We also hate that people seem to imagine that once something been achieved, it can never go back and you don’t have to guard your rights. Women, guard your rights with your life or you may well wake up one day to find you don’t have as many as you thought you did.
Of course that’s just for starters.
Naiades, Winter and Siberian Falls
*No men were hurt in the production of this post, but there was much raaaaaarrghing involved. Thanks to the cheap bottle of Jacob’s Creek wine for loosening the writer’s block.