In public discussion, there are certain topics that should not be brought up. One of them is sexism. Silenced. Disregarded. Marginalized. However, it is important to remember that sexism is sexism. This is an ideology that is based on one gender being inferior to the other. And yet so much is said about how we are all equal?
And despite the fact that many movements and organizations have sprung up to combat this, it is still a widespread phenomenon. At work, on the street, and even at home. In the latter, it often appears, and we don’t even know when.
Most often we talk about hostile sexism. As a rule, it refers to generalizing, simplistic and negative opinions about people of the opposite sex. We often hear that “all women fly for cash” or “all men cheat.” There are times when a meaningful view of a person reduces him to the role of a sex object. Hostile sexism is vulgar, aggressive, often demeaning and disrespectful. But in social assessment it is sometimes acceptable: “oh there, nothing happened, you don’t know anything about jokes”, “you have no distance”.
Benevolent in name only
The situation is different with benevolent sexism, otherwise known as benevolent or ambivalent sexism. It is definitely more difficult to grasp because it is laced with apparent sympathy and concern. It is based on traditional beliefs (including stereotypes), which are strongly rooted in patriarchal thinking and usually have a positive tinge, that women are innocent, delicate and sensitive, i.e., lifeless and passive. Hence the belief that they require care and protection from a man. This approach sustains a rigid, traditional and mostly unsupported by daily experience division of social roles. It maintains the stagnant hierarchy and thus marginalizes women in active social life. Where there is power, money and prestige, women are usually not welcome. And the monotonous reproduction of social roles, their perpetuation by social institutions, upbringing, tradition, as well as the education system makes them unnoticeable. Sexism also hits men, because patriarchy is a double-edged weapon.
game of appearances
Life attitudes acquired in the education process, or our daily communication, are based on certain thought and language patterns that only seemingly express concern: “anger harms beauty,” “be nice,” “women are delicate,” “this is too complicated for you to understand,” or “a child is the meaning of a woman’s life.” Benevolent sexism is the appearance of kind words or gestures. Because what’s wrong with being a mother, being sensitive, kind or pretty? Nothing. Yet this seemingly nice comment informs between the words: you are not valuable. In our culture there are behavioral patterns, linguistic calques, and thus full acceptance of benevolent sexism, which, often completely unconsciously, is also operated by women. It occurs when sexism targets one’s own gender, but not against oneself (“all women are like this, but I am different”). It so happens that when women reach a high social position, sometimes even unconsciously, they reproduce the patriarchal hierarchy they know well for fear of losing their privileges and positions. And where then is there room for female solidarity?
Is it a tradition?
Unfortunately, still in many countries around the world it is the woman who performs domestic duties: cooking, cleaning, shopping and taking care of the house. It is not uncommon for him to give up his own career, after all, the belief has been established that a man earns more, that he is the master of the house. That he is the MAN.
This unwritten rule is instilled in women from the first days of life. It is the girls who most often help around the house. They are the ones who play at cooking and at home. And the boys? They can play ball. Rarely does anyone chase them into domestic duties.
The same principle applies to work. Men can still expect higher salaries and better positions, even if it is a woman who has a much better resume. Will this ever change? It depends on ourselves. It’s time to start talking about it out loud. Let’s not be afraid of it.