I came up with the idea for this blog post last week, and have been compiling phrases since December 1, 2012.
“Ilan” is a good friend of mine and hall mate for the second year now. I consider “Ilan” to be an intelligent and thoughtful young man. However, sometimes “Ilan” says really sexist things. Ever since I started taking this class, I’ve started to pick up more on the sexism in some our conversations, and started to consistently call him out on it. Here goes the list:
- Using the “she” pronoun is not generally accepted. I can’t use that.
- Gender inequality in the workplace is not due to sexism.
- Women should wear dresses to the orchestra, not pants. It is not a matter of gender differences, that is fashion.
- I’m really not sexist, I think you’re being too much of an activist.
- You’re just elitist.
- I am not sexist, I just Wikipedia-ed it. I don’t think men are superior to women.
I don’t think “Ilan’s” thoughts are extraordinary. I have simply been surprised by how unaware he was of what could be considered sexist and what was not. From my conversations with my friend, I concluded that his idea of sexism was more along the lines of misogyny -as long as there was no hatred being expressed towards women, it was not discriminatory. By the same lines, his perception of a feminist was a self-righteous woman, who hated men.
It is difficult for “Ilan” to accept that the above sentences are sexist. When I openly called him sexist, he went through many phases of denial: disbelief, anger, and offense. See, I’ve realized that “Ilan” does not want to be sexist. He is simply not open to admit that he is, and as a result, is not open to no longer being sexist.
“Ilan” and I recently had a breakthrough regarding gender inequality in the workplace. At first, it was difficult for him to accept that women, who are just as qualified as men, are receiving less pay for the same work in the U.S. At the end of our conversation, he was baffled by the fact that the Equal Rights Amendment had not passed, and catapulted to the other extreme of the conversation.
My conversations with “Ilan” have shown me that people know very little about sexism in the society in which they live. Even writing those words, I realize that I did not know 1/4 of what I know now. Had “Ilan” said any of those things to me last semester, I would not have been able to explain to him why his statements were sexist. So, I have a piece of advice for all of the students in our class: whenever you see sexism, call it out.