Every day, every single day, people are faced with sexism. Some days it is a casual comment as you walk down the street. Someone commenting to their buddy about a girl’s appearance, how big her breasts are. Other days the sexism is more insidious, were you selected to be a part of the car mechanics club because you are talented or just because you are pretty? And some days it’s just out right in your face: “only boys can do that.” You are told that you have less value because you are a girl.
Well let me tell you, all of these forms of everyday sexism are not okay. And we as feminists still have a lot to teach about gender equality and what a world looks like where everyone is respected for being the person they want to be.
But let’s back up, before we change the world, let’s reflect on how one reacts to the world we are currently living in.
After hearing the one-millionth sexist comment, sometimes you just let it slide off of your back. Somewhere in your heart a little mark is made but you don’t want to engage with that close-minded dumb-butt. Other days you feel like you want to fight back and yell, “Stop that!! Stop that right now!!” And sometimes that one-millionth sexist comments is the one that breaks you and all you want to do is curl up on the floor and cry.
So often women are shamed for their reactions to sexist comments. They are shamed for being the victim and feel like they are the one to blame for what happened. Laura Bates collected stories and experiences from 50,000+ women around the world. When these women first shared their experiences with their peers, their peers responded with such comments as, stop making a fuss, women are equal now more or less, stop overreacting, have a sense of humor, take a joke, don’t be so uptight, don’t be so frigid. But let me tell you, these comments are not validating of someone’s experience.
If you want to cry, find a space that is supportive and will give you a hug. If you want to ignore the sexist comment, I understand, it’s a tiring battle. If you want to yell back, one of my favorite reactions to a person making a sexist comment, is simply asking them why they thinks that’s okay thing to say. Often they doesn’t know. They are suffering in the same sexist society you are struggling in.
I want to affirm however you want to react to these everyday sexist comments because all of these reactions are valid because they are what you are feeling.
To learn more about The Everyday Sexism Project or submit your own story, visit http://usa.everydaysexism.com/ and check out Laura Bates Tedx Talk. Everyday sexism: Laura Bates at TEDxCoventGardenWomen.
Also shout out to Mysia Anderson’s article about Taking Back the Angry Black Woman, which helped inspire this blog post.