Everyday Sexism and Why Feminism Still Matters
Feminism, sometimes it’s a word that summons up a negative picture. A picture of militant, men-hating women and controversy. Women that want to succeed and watch their male counterparts fail. But this is far from the truth. True feminism is about sameness. Equality for all, whatever their gender, and everyone succeeding whatever their choices. Feminism is as important for men as it is for women and I would argue that in 2018, never has it been so relevant.
In the news just this week Topshop removed a feminist stand from its store, 20 minutes before it was set up, the topic clearly too controversial for the store despite its target audience. With the rise of Trump, we have seen a huge anti-abortion movement in the US, we still face the fact that women are still paid less in the workplace and penalised in their careers for taking time out.
But what about men in this modern world? Since April 2015 men have been given the right to take shared paternity leave with their partners, so far the take up looks to be about 2%. Financial implications and stigma being the main reasons.
What about social norms? You know the sayings – you run like a girl, man up, real men don’t cry, all crazy social stigmas which mean that suicide is still the highest cause of death for men under 40. Just sit there and think about that for a moment. More men kill themselves under 40 than are killed by any other illness. I’m raising two sons and I find that stat incomprehensible.
In the media, again just this week Piers Morgan commented that men baby wearing was ’embarrassing’ (my husband has a few things to say on this matter), shaming men for wanting to do something normal and natural with their children. All examples of toxic masculinity.
Sexism is rife within our society, as a woman have you ever tried to buy a car? I was chatting to my osteopath and she shared how as she was about to buy a new car, the salesman asked if she wanted to call her husband before she made the purchase. I have taken my car to get fixed in a garage and been quoted an entirely different price to the one my husband, not favourably either. Also buying a car for me the salesman spoke directly to my husband until he told him to stop and said the car was for me, he should talk to me. I’ve had electricians and plumbers want to talk to my husband, when we went in to arrange our mortgage people are often taken aback that I organise all the finances in our house.
From a male perspective, before school, my son would wear any colour, play with any toy, and now he’s started school I get that’s for girls I don’t want to play with that, even though I can see that actually he would really like to. He scoffs at some of his sister’s TV shows then sneaks in to watch them. The other week he asked my husband not to hug him at the school doors in case anyone made fun of him, when he loves a hug at home. All of this just makes me sad and shows me just how rife sexism still is in our society.
Examples of Everyday Sexism
I asked a group of bloggers if they could share some examples of everyday sexism with me and it wasn’t long before so many people flooded in with their stories:
‘I booked an appointment for an electrician to come and quote for a few jobs. He came over and it was just me home. He called the next day to say “I’ve done your quote for you, let me know when your husband is in so I can arrange a meeting to talk money with him”. ‘
Maria from Happy Mummy
‘I’ve been to the same restaurant twice now, and both times, despite asking for the bill myself, it’s been presented to my husband. It’s really irritating – as I’m treating him each time to say thanks for working hard for our family.’
Katy from Katy Kicker
‘We are currently buying a new build house and when we went into the sales office we sat down to speak to the mortgage advisor and the sales woman said “Oh let’s leave that to the men to discuss why don’t you come and pick out some tiling options.” The irony is when it comes to our finances my husband is clueless yet I worked in mortgages for years!’
Sophie from Soph Obsessed
‘My son was told, during a swimming lesson (male teacher), to ‘stop swimming like a girl’ and it broke my heart/ angered me so much! SO MUCH wrong with that sentence. 1. What is wrong with swimming like a girl? 2. Why is swimming like a girl an insult or something to be ashamed of, strive to stop doing? 3. Why embarrass a boy by telling him he is acting like a girl? 4. Basically my son was told to ‘man up’ 5. Don’t teach my son there is something wrong or something to be ridiculed about girls 6. Don’t destroy my son’s relationship or attitude towards his sisters and other girls/ females 7. I could go on!’
Susannne from Ghost Writer Mummy
‘I had a cashier tell my son that he should not be looking at the Disney Princess stuff because he was a boy.
When I said he could play with what ever he wanted, she said “Oh but not those girly things. You do not want people to think you are a girl.”‘
Danielle from Someone’s Mum
‘At the farm, if a salesman comes into the yard, they either ask for the boss or my husband. If they ask for the boss, I say you’re looking at her and they just think I’m joking. Women can’t be farmers you know ..’
Emma from www.farmerswifeandmummy.com
‘I had a sense my partner’s family had an issue with me and my sister in law got drunk and finally spilled the beans. They blame me for my partner’s lack of effort with them, for example, not sending Christmas cards, not seeing them enough etc. Apparently all of this is the women’s role. The ridiculous thing is I always remind him and prompt him about these things and encourage him to spend time with his family. I’m still angry about it!
Nyomi from www.nomipalony.com
‘We always get comments because when we had our son, we registered him in my surname because when we get married my other half is also taking my surname. We seem to have to explain again and again why because it’ll dent my other half’s masculinity, I should be taking the man’s name, shouldn’t you be carrying his name on bla bla…’
Alice from AliceAnne.co.uk
‘If your house is a mess it’s automatically attributed to the woman, not the man, even if the woman works longer hours than the man.’
Jenny from www.thebrickcastle.com
Still Don’t Think Feminism Applies To You?
I want my children to grow up in a world where they can make the choices that are right for them, not what people deem right for them based on their gender. Where the English women’s football team winning the world cup is as exciting as the men’s. Where doing something like a girl isn’t an insult (why should it be?) where children can play with whatever toys they like. Where women can make financial decisions without being judged, have the careers they choose and men can take career breaks for their family if that works for them. Let us enjoy life on an equal footing and the world will be a better place.