Have you ever mistakenly addressed everyone in the room as “guys” even though women were present? This phrase may be acceptable for some, but not everyone. While “What’s up, guys?” might not be considered a form of sexism, it certainly is one.
The different types of sexism
According to Medical News Today, three types of sexism operate on three different levels. Those types of sexism are ambivalent, benevolent, and hostile.
Benevolent sexism is less obvious and paints women in a “good” light. This form of sexism is more socially acceptable but implies women are weaker than men. For example, standard gender roles assume that women have a specific role in society as mothers, nurses, or caretakers. This, in fact, is a form of sexism.
Ambivalent sexism embodies both benevolent and hostile qualities. These people tend to be torn on their perspective on women. One minute they perceive them to be authentic, acceptable, and innocent then the next, they’re deceiving or conniving depending on the situation.
Hostile sexism involves a party being openly hostile towards a group or person based on sex and/or gender. People that exhibit this form of sexism view women as deceitful, manipulative, or using seduction as a form of control.
The different levels of Sexism
Interpersonal which involves interacting with another. This can occur physically or online with phrases implying that a woman needs to be more ladylike, a man needing to “man up”, or simply making an inappropriate comment about someone’s appearance.
On the other hand, Internalized sexism regards the thoughts you perceive about yourself. It is said that feeling shameful about yourself in any capacity can be a result of exposure to sexist remarks at some point in time.
Institutional sexism refers to long-established organizations such as healthcare, government, and legal being hostile, benevolent, or ambivalent. Women not receiving the same pay as men, also known as the gender pay gap, is a form of this sexism.
Common sexist remarks
Whether you’ve been on the receiving or giving end, here are some common sexist remarks that may sound a bit familiar:
“Did you see what she was wearing?”
“You need to man up!”
“You sure you can handle that”
“You should smile more”
“Dear, sweetheart, darling…”
“Calm down” and “dear, sweetheart, darling..” can be considered patronizing. Especially, telling a woman to calm down, can invalidate her feelings as if they don’t matter.
What can you do about it?
Often, insults are masqueraded as a joke. One of the first steps to taking action is not validating the humor or calling out the joke. It is important to consider the pronouns of a group of people when addressing them. It is important to avoid stereotyping or devaluing a woman’s voice based on her physical appearance or preconceived notions. Assumptions or labels based on gender aren’t acceptable.
Whether it is apparent or not, sexism is everywhere, regardless of your profession, your industry, or even your location. Do you think we can truly make sexism a thing of the past? Yes, it is. It is only a matter of time and effort.