Sexism is a contentious topic, but here I am asking, is sexism men’s or women’s fault? Or, is it no one’s fault in particular?
by Alice Alcaras
What a statement, right? Sexism is such a controversial topic that needs to be carefully approached and properly discussed. Especially nowadays, we hear about a lot of events comporting sexism and women power.
In the article, “Equal Treatment for Men and Women”, Pew Research Center shows that there are still many gender gaps in the world of work and in society that need to be closed.
It was 1848 when the first movement of feminism started—a long time after the term ‘sexism’ emerged. Women were possibly instated by society a long time before this movement but did not have the courage to speak about sexism openly. This form of discrimination against women was what society was built around, and people started to allow these limitations to influence their thinking and behaviour. It became a more serious problem when people started to discriminate against others.
And that’s where the trilemma lies. Sexism is a contentious topic, but here I am asking, is sexism men’s or women’s fault? Or, is it no one’s fault in particular?
Women definitely play their part!
Some could say that this view on sexism can only be seen from a man’s perspective, but that is not true; people other than sexist men or extremists can feel this way too. As an article by The Guardian called “10 myths that blame women for sexism” explains, when a woman experiences sexism, people often find a way to also make it her fault, saying “Yes, but”. Somehow, there is always a side that thinks that women are also to be blamed for what is happening to them.
Additionally, it has been shown that women and men’s brains are structured differently. Because some parts are more evolved than others, women are better at some things and men at others. Diane Halpern, a previous president of the American Psychological Association, observed this pattern and began writing about it in her academic text “Sex Differences in Cognitive Abilities”. The sexism problem seems to arise when women get into the role that they play best, limiting themselves to other possible roles. But is this women’s fault?
Some might think that if women were not taught the same things as men or treated with inferiority from the start, then they would easily be able to get into ‘their’ role and play ‘their’ part. Sometimes, a woman playing ‘her’ role can help her fit best into a relationship or situation. Women can do it intentionally and might even enjoy being treated differently.
It is not all about the neurological side, but also the social side. So, it’s not really men’s fault. There is also a side in women that likes to play that part— the part of always being taken care of, always being told what to do, and always letting men do more things. And this is what allows men to have power over women.
It is all men!
Society has built us in a way to make us believe that it is okay for men to think that women are not as good as them in many aspects of life; a classic is in practical stuff.
“Women have their limits”.
As I have already said previously, sexism does not have an exact date of when it started; it was probably too long ago to even know. Men have always thrived on the feeling that they are superior to women, and this might have been brought by their instincts of protection and impressing women with their skills and power to protect them.
It is true that there is a biological component to why men behave in this ‘sexist’ way, but also, culturally, every community and social care educate children differently based on their gender. Everything starts in nursery and also depends on how parents treat their children. If the difference based on gender is already made clear when a child is young, then the gender stereotypes and prejudice have already begun.
A study conducted by Peter et al. in 2019 shows that women are often exposed to sexual objectification, and this leads to severe emotional and health problems. Fredrickson and Roberts’ (1997) also proposed the objectification theory— when women are treated as objects, both sexually and not. This causes women to adopt a third-person perspective on their bodies, called self-objectification, which has harmful consequences for their emotional well-being.
What is clear is that men have considerable power over women, both physically and psychologically. Their sexist views lead them to treat women with inferiority and discrimination.
It’s no one’s fault.
There are many circumstances that play a part in sexism, and many things that need to be considered before putting the blame on someone for such a sensitive topic. Sexism is something that has always happened in the world and many victims of sexism still don’t speak about their experiences.
It is clear, however, that, any form of discrimination is wrong. Acts and laws have been enacted in many countries to improve sexist views. Especially, in the world of work, a lot of discrimination is still happening and women are treated with no respect or with inferiority. They are offered fewer jobs and paid less even if they work for longer hours.
Every day and everywhere, we can see sexism in various forms. Until this prejudice towards women ends, this way of having to differentiate between genders will remain, and nothing will change.