“I’m a 20-something college student. I’m a writer and a social media maniac. I love reading comics and playing video games. I can usually be found online or running around campus going to my next meeting or looking for the free food.”
“I imagine you’ve probably been there. You get up and get ready for the day. As always you are doing your best to be your best and put your best foot forward. You get to work or class or the place where you volunteer and as you sit down the person in charge says, “Alright guys, this is what we’re going to do today.” And if you’re like me, you look around in confusion at first. Well, is my employer only talking to half the room at this point? Will half the room have one set of tasks and the other another?
Sexism is so societally ingrained that at this point we’re told it’s ‘innate’. There is nothing innate about calling a room full of people a gender-specific term, just as they’re nothing innate about the transexism of thinking it’s okay to ask a person about their genitals because they identify trans*. The simple fact that a phenomena such as ‘everyday sexism’ exists to be scrutinized and unpacked is in and of itself appalling.
Everyday sexism is teaching children it’s okay to use gender-specific terms to address a group of people. Everyday sexism is being obstinate towards the views of the person who feels they do not need the door held open for them, and then passive-aggressively holding the door for no one. Everyday sexism is instructors teaching a biological sex and a societal gender binary as fact, when in fact, there exist more than two biological sexes and way more than two societal gender identities. And the worst everyday sexism is the most unfortunate effect of sexism as an institutional oppression – and that’s internalized sexism. The sexism that sits in a person’s mind and stews – the sexism that says I’m not good looking enough or I’m not smart enough, or if I could just tone this part of my body a little more – it’s the daily incarnation of the ingrained sexism that tells us we are not good enough, and it makes us neurotic and anxious and angry and depressed.
Everyday Sexism is manifested in the way one is treated. “You really shouldn’t wear that skirt.” “Why do you wear shorts all the time, you look so masculine?” Where everything about you becomes one step from okay and having to process that on a daily basis gets exhausting quickly.
Still, no matter how exhausting, the perpetuation of everyday sexism says we must be happy if not peppy and any delineation from that is a sign of aggression and then we’re made into ‘bipolar bitches’ (because the actual meanings of words don’t matter to the perpetuators of everyday sexism.)
The biggest problem that causes everyday sexism, though, could easily be argued to be the ignorance people have that what they’re doing is sexist.
Without defending the sexist or the sexism, what passes for the ‘culture’ in the mainstream, perpetuates, at least in America, an ideal that feminist women are genocidal purists who claim they’re sex is superior. While one cannot say this has never occured, what’s happening in a general context is the oppressor is dressing up the rebelling oppressed to look as if, coincidentally, they are oppressor-hopefuls. Keeping this oppressor-oppressed dichotomy, especially when an oppressor can paint themselves as victims, leads to general societal ignorance that perpetuates sexism daily as if it were simply a struggle for survival.
As much as I may want to, I cannot point to any one person alive today and blame them for sexism. Sexism has been institutional and societal for far too long, but it is meeting its match. Everyday sexism weighs people down, it’s an unfair and cumbersome burden, but with everyday feminism, if you will, individual conversations are combating everyday sexism. Asking people to use gender neutral terms when addressing more than one person is combating everyday sexism.
It has been stated that sexism is not innate and because of this it can be overcome and it is being overcome. It takes those who are willing and who feel safe to tell their stories to do so, and it takes all of us who are willing and who feel safe to have conversations to do so.
And eventually everyday sexism becomes everyday feminism.
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Jessica wrote the article on behalf of Being Feminist, an online platform trying to reach out to and connect to feminists and provide a safe space online to talk about experiences, trials, errors and joys (pretty much anything feminist or feminist-y or which might benefit from a feminist perspective). We try not to mess it up. Sometimes, we succeed. You can follow our blog and Facebook page