Before you read this article please take the Human Rights Channel’s quiz on whether or not you are sexist. You can find the quiz here.
My results on the quiz, just so you know I actually took it:
So, how did I score so high? Because I’ve been researching gender equality and sexist behavior for the last decade. Overall, the quiz was easy for me, but I’ve found that a lot of people tend to disagree with my views. If you’re one of those people who doesn’t agree, read on. If you agree, read on, too, and comment, because we might just be kindred spirits.
When most people think of sexism, this is the category they are thinking of. This is as it is described, openly hostile beliefs and behaviors toward a group of people based on sex or gender (6 Types of Sexism, examples and their impact–MedicalNewsToday). Individuals who are hostile in their sexism see women as being manipulative, deceitful, individuals who use seduction against men, and need to be kept in their place.
Hostile sexism is dangerous and often leads to abuse or sexual assault.
Examples of Hostile sexism (as quoted by MedicalNewsToday):
- Sexist language or insults
- Threatening or aggressive comments based on a person’s sex or gender
- Treating people as subordinates based on their sex/gender & punishing them when they are out of line
- believing victims of sexual assault ‘ask for it’ based on their clothing
- engaging in physical or sexual assault
This type of sexism, is more the positive form of sexism. Chivalry fits into this category, and this is the form of sexism the Catholic church seems to endorse when they say that women need to be set apart, when they talk about the divine feminine.
This is still harmful because it frames one sex/gender as being weaker than the other. This is what results in more men on the front lines of our military, and women being more likely to win in family court.
Examples of Benevolent Sexism (according to MedicalNewsToday):
- Basing a woman’s value on her rule as mother, wife, or girlfriend rather than as an individual
- Focus on appearance over other characteristics
- Believing people should not do things for themselves on the basis of gender (manage money, drive a car, etc)
- Assuming a person is a nurse, secretary, or assistant rather than a doctor or executive based on their gender
- Supporting policies that make it difficult for women to work, be independent, or deviate from traditional gender roles
There are other types of sexism to describe who is being sexist (institutional v interpersonal) and a combination of hostile and benevolent sexism (ambivalent sexism), but for my purposes for this post, I am going to focus on these two types.
It was actually surprisingly emotional for me to write this, because I’ve experienced a lot of these personally, and because a lot of our lawmakers seem to see things this way and are making policy decisions that restrict the rights of women and other marginalized genders.
I think the best way to explain further is just to go through the quiz.
What is sexism?
The correct answer is that some people are considered inferior because of their sex or gender. The two incorrect choices are: Men should not flirt with women, and some people are sexier than others.
I think that the word feminism is sometimes associated with the idea that men should not flirt with women, and that isn’t it at all. The problem is that what some men think of as flirting is sexist behavior–at least in my experience anyway.
Who is affected by sexism and sexist behavior?
The correct answer: Women and girls disproportionately.
The incorrect answers: Only sad, lonely feminists & just girls in mini skirts.
This one gets me a bit, too, because it comes back to the whole idea of feminism being a bad thing. It’s like people think that feminists are making up sexism in their heads and want to be superior to men, but that isn’t it at all. We want equality, and for no one to be considered inferior because of their sex.
The girls in mini skirts is just another way of blaming the victim, and letting the perpetrator escape responsibility. It goes along with the dress codes in schools that blame girls for boys’ behavior. If you want an example of this, watch the movie Moxie on Netflix. It’s one of my favorite movies of all time. I seriously cry at the end almost every time.
Someone tweets “She’s full of shit, but I wouldn’t mind a piece of that” about a woman journalist.
The correct answer: Unfortunately, a common part of the life of women journalists.
The incorrect answers: Who cares, it’s only a tweet & Freedom of Speech! let everyone express her/himself!
I feel like there’s a lot to unpack here. I see this happen all the time. Just like catcalls happen all the time when a woman walks alone in the city, and women are harassed on public transportation. The worst part is that people just accept it.
If you are saying that it’s only a tweet, then you are minimizing this woman and every woman’s feelings who might be hurt by that. Yes, you’re right–when you’re in the public eye, you cannot let every tweet get to you, but it’s okay to be outraged at how much this happens in our society!
As far as the freedom of speech comment…I feel like this is just an excuse to be mean without taking responsibility. Freedom of speech does not mean you get to say whatever you want without consequence. It means that the government cannot regulate your opinions or prevent us from disagreeing with them. However, you still have to treat other people like human beings no matter what your beliefs are.
David is coming home & he is starving. He can:
Correct answer: Open the fridge and start cooking.
Incorrect answers: Wait for his girlfriend; she knows what he likes to eat & consider eating cat food. Tiger will be happy to share.
I feel like this is a relatively easy one. I could be wrong. The traditional, sexist answer is to wait for his girlfriend, and the traditional view of a feminist view would be for him to eat cat food. I would also posit that if David doesn’t cook, then he can stop for takeout or order take out once he gets home. I hate cooking, and oftentimes that’s what I do, but men should be able to get themselves food one way or the other without depending on a woman to cook for them. Moving on.
For their birthdays, Aunt Annie gave a mini vacuum cleaner to her niece and a mini drill to her nephew
Correct answer: Aunt Annie’s views on gender roles are sooo last century!
Incorrect answers: Perfect, they both need to learn what life is about! & How great! Her niece loves the cooking set she received last year.
I feel like there’s a little bit of gray area here on this one. The first incorrect answer here is very clearly sexist, but the second makes a little bit of sense. However. Just because Aunt Annie’s niece liked the cooking set does not mean she will like the vacuum cleaner. Making that leap based on her liking one traditional gift is presumptuous.
There is really only one situation where these toys would be appropriate: if her nephew already plays with tools and enjoys it, and her niece already has demonstrated an interest in cleaning. That’s it.
My colleague John makes a joke about the new trainee’s breasts.
Correct answer: Hey, John, what did you just say?
Incorrect answers: I burst out laughing. This guy is always sooo funny! & How could you miss them? What was she thinking, wearing that sweater?
I’ve been personally a victim of this one on more than one occasion, and no, it is not funny. Jokes like this lead to the objectification of women as passive and sexual objects to be used. Always take this seriously.
Leon and Sarah are having a nice evening together. Leon thinks Sarah will spend the night with him.
Correct answer: Maybe, but she may not want that. And if she does, she might also change her mind.
I’m not even going to list the incorrect answers here because they are both clearly sexist. Consent is someone saying yes to a particular act. Nothing less. Now, Leon can hope Sarah will spend the night with him and even guess that she might, but without consent, he absolutely should not do anything about it.
The department manager tells Nadia that she won’t need to go on business trips this year, so that she can “make room for her family life”
Correct answers: How she handles her private life is none of his business & No way! Promotions are known to be linked to successful business trips.
Incorrect answer: She is so lucky! What an attentive boss!
I don’t entirely agree with the second one, because maybe Nadia would want to stay at home instead of going on business trips, but that isn’t for her boss to decide–it’s Nadia’s decision. But, in Nadia’s shoes, I would probably be upset about that because of losing the potential for promotion. The incorrect response is benevolent sexism. While it appears to come from a place of kindness, it really just presents Nadia as weaker than her male coworkers who are not being told they do not have to go on business trips.
When women play a football game
Correct answer: It lasts 90 minutes & the 22 players try to score goals.
The incorrect answers vary between “there’s no point” to “how cute”, both very sexist remarks. I’m actually planning to write a post in further detail about this so I won’t get into it here.
Eva has filed an application to work with the police
While physical force can be part of this job, it is not the entire job, so the correct answer focuses on the variety of responsibilities and that there are more important things than gender to being a police officer.
The incorrect answers say women shouldn’t be police officers, that it’s a man’s job, and that it’s great that she wants to work with the police because women are great at paper work.
This post was…depressing to write. While I am relieved to say that I am not sexist, this was a reminder of all the sexism I face on a daily basis whenever I leave my apartment. Any wonder why I want to stay at home and write blog posts and make Youtube videos? Granted, I do go out to run errands, go to Universal Studios and to travel, but it’s why the 9-5 world doesn’t work for me. Going out everyday just doesn’t work. It’s situations like these presented in the quiz that give me panic attacks, because I know that I will end up facing them. And then, I will be made out as overreacting. I can’t do that everyday. So, I like being able to stay at home and write, and then be out when I choose to be, and that’s it.
Thank you for reading.