Ask any person if they have experienced discrimination in any form at any point in their life, and I bet you the answer is affirmative. So to ask a woman if they have encountered sexist attitudes or sexual stereotyping in these emancipated times you have to be joking, or living in a bubble.
Sexism is a daily event for many women as well as men, some enjoy it and a few invite it while others like myself get irritated. It is a personal issue; I grew up with brothers, was a tomboy and loved nothing more than to climb trees and jump off high walls, but I would whine and moan if my mother singled me out to help at mealtimes or with the housework. My brothers were just as capable but it never occurred to her to ask them instead.
I wonder if we will ever be rid of sexual stereotyping? The Equality Act means that it is less evident in the workplace, but we are still perpetuating sexism outside work and in our home environment. As a parent I have witnessed other parents shockingly tell their sons ‘boys don’t cry’ and taking dolls away from them because they fear it will affect their sexuality!
It’s no wonder that this type of domestic sexism lives on when advertisers blatantly show women in stereotypically domestic roles, while Mr Muscle does the tough stuff. It throws pie in the face of the Equality Act which has a whole section on gender discrimination as a consumer.
As my children are getting beyond teenage years I am pleased that I brought them up to respect their differences without putting them through the archaic gender division. My son describes me as a liberal feminist which is probably accurate and I have had my fair share of confrontations with individuals and organisations that have tried to limit me because of my sex.
For five of the last seven years I frequently worked away from home only to hear on the grapevine that parents at my daughter’s school considered me not fit to be a mother, even though many of their partners had extended periods working away from home. What is the difference? When I was newly married my employer posted a job overseeing the North African market but refused to accept my application giving as a reason “it’s no place for a young woman”, like my age had anything to do with it!
Unfortunately I have neither the gravitas of Germaine Greer, nor the wit of Caitlin Moran to rebuff sexism when it arises. The best people like me can do, is make the perpetrators feel foolish and outdated, and not amongst the common consensus. Sadly they probably are.
Margot Grantham is a regular contributor to the3rdimagazine.