It’s hard to know where to start when writing about something as widely discussed as sexism. Everything seems to be met with equal amounts rousing support and intense hatred. So lets see how this goes.
I’m a woman. I love women. I love being a woman. I have just sent colleague a link to a handbag I like and I fancy Jim Hamilton like no man’s business. Could I BE any more feminine?! However, just because I am a women doesn’t mean that I agree with other women and their views on sexism.
I don’t think that someone shouting out ‘Hey! Nice tits!’ in the street is particularly sexist, nor do I think that it’s sexist that a man be paid more than a woman if he does a better job. It’s ridiculous to label everything as ‘sexism’ when it could be a one off case of rudeness, bad manners, or just an oversight on someone’s part.
Victoria Coren wrote an excellent article addressing sexism in the August issue of Elle magazine, which I think it would benefit many to read. ‘I think it’s a shame’ Coren wrote, ‘that the vast majority of stories are about men making lewd comments in the street. I don’t think that counts as sexism; I think it’s just bad manners’.
It’s a really excellent point, and I agree. I think so many women are getting bad manners confused with sexism. A man telling you that you’re fit is just a not-very-well-thought out compliment. He’s not doing it because he’s a man and he thinks he’s better than you, he’s telling you he likes you. He’s obviously an idiot, but he’s an idiot that seems to find you attractive.
If a woman takes umbrage with something a man has done, it seems like they are increasingly willing to jump on the sexism bandwagon. Boss says you can’t qualify for a promotion until you hit a few targets? SEXIST! Man at the petrol station tells you he likes your t-shirt? HE’S STARING AT MY BREASTS, WHAT A SEXIST PERV! Get your head out your ass. You’re not being mistreated because you’re a woman, you need to work your way to the top and respond to normal conversation, just like everyone else.
I don’t think social media has helped a whole lot either. Sure, it’s giving people a platform to be able to talk about their experiences, but it’s also opened up everyone to a load of trolling and passive aggression. The world would be a better place if everyone took a minute to read back what they’re about to post online and consider whether they would actually say it to someone’s face. I think the number of passive-aggressive comments would decline rapidly.
People now seem to think it’s their God-given right to air their opinions on whatever topic is on the front page. It’s not. Your opinion doesn’t matter. No one cares. One of the increasing problems is that everyone has a platform on which to inform people that they’re offended, and they expect something to be done about it.
On every single episode of this season’s Strictly Come Dancing, at least one of the judges has mentioned the torso of Ben Cohen. Whether it’s distracting them from being able to concentrate on the dance, or the fact he is topless has made them all hot under the collar, his physical appearance is constantly being commented on.
I can’t even being to fathom the uproar that would occur if, for example, Len Goodman told Rachel Riley that he was unable to concentrate on her dance being he was distracted by her chest. The #EverydaySexism hashtag would probably break the internet.
So why is it ok for women to ogle men? Why, if a man comments on how ‘fit’ a woman is, he’s being a perv, but if a woman lusts after a half naked man, it’s fine? If you want to be treated equally, you either need to let men ogle women in the same way women do men, or a law needs to be passed where it’s illegal to comment on the physical appearance of another person. Sound like a good idea? No, I thought not.
Don’t even get me started on the Great British Bake Off. An article appeared in The Guardian in the week leading up to the final about the fact that, essentially, if you disliked Ruby, you disliked successful woman.
I’m a woman, and there’s nothing I would enjoy more than becoming a super successful woman. But I really didn’t like Ruby. Not because I was jealous of her, nor because I hated her success, but because I thought she was whiney and attention seeking and those are two qualities I really dislike in a person, regardless of their gender.
The world is already full of double standards, but the sexism debate just seems to be adding to those arguments.
I see more and more people getting up in arms about children’s toys being separated by gender. A picture of a couple of colouring books from Sainsbury’s was doing the rounds on Twitter last week. The boys colouring book was described as ‘brilliant’ whilst the one for girls was described as ‘beautiful’. It would appear that targeting girls with items centred around image is sexist and makes them image conscious for the rest of their lives, whereas boys are labelled as always being ‘brilliant’, ‘great’ and ‘awesome’ and that’s what makes them so successful.
No one complained about sexism when it was claimed that boys were made of slugs and snails and puppy dogs tails, yet girls were crafted from sugar and spice and all things nice.
I loved playing with Barbies when I was younger, but I also loved going outside and riding my bike, and I could name all 151 original Pokemon. Just like now, I like reading about fashion and buying make-up, but I also love going to watch rugby and have adopted my boyfriend’s beloved Aston Villa as my football team.
What we do when we’re younger doesn’t necessarily define who we are when we’re older. If you’re worried that the adjectives used on the front of a colouring book are going to define who your child becomes, you probably need to rethink your priorities. Karren Brady probably owned at least one girly toy when she was younger, and now she’s vice-chairman at West Ham.
Sexism at work is another issue. I am in no way supporting the fact that women should be paid less than men for doing the same job. But trying to get a promotion based on the fact that you think you’re not being paid enough because you’re a woman is just ludicrous.
Where’s the sense of achievement in that? I think many women use sexism as an excuse to get what they want, and a number of men are too scared of the backlash to push back against it.
Women need to stop ganging up on other women as well. Criticising a page three model because she chooses to expose herself in a national newspaper is a bit of a moot point. She hasn’t been ‘forced’ to take her clothes off by a lecherous man, she’s done it because she likes her body and she wants people to see it.
Just because you don’t agree with it, doesn’t make it wrong. I like to eat baked beans out of a bowl mixed with tuna mayonnaise and cheese. Sure, you think it’s disgusting, but that doesn’t make me wrong and I’ll be damned if you think your opinions are going to make me stop doing it.
Before you all dig out your pitchforks, I’m going to reiterate the point that I absolutely abhor sexism. Treating someone badly, or making a decision, based purely on their gender is totally ridiculous. A woman can be just as good a football referee as a man, but just because it’s not a stereotypically female role, she’s a butch lesbian who knows nothing about football? That’s a disgusting view, and if you think that one gender is better than the other, then you’re a bigoted idiot.
What I don’t agree with is women crying ‘sexism!’ any time a man tries to do something that they don’t agree with.
Feel free to argue with my opinions, give me a piece of your mind and tell me what you really think. But just take five minutes to make sure it’s something you wouldn’t have a problem saying to my face.
So, seriously, where is it going to end?
PR exec who likes finding funnies and cool stuff online. Print journalism graduate.