Sexism looks different than it did 100 years ago.
I know that 100 years ago, sexism was blatant and appalling, and involve the kinds of atrocities that we thankfully rarely see any more….or if we do see them, we have the decency as a society to be horrified by them. Sexism used to involve sexual harassment and brutality and no representation in Congress. It used to mean being barred from professions and no right to reproductive choice.
Today, sexism looks different. It’s less blatent. It’s often under the carpet. It’s harder to define and harder to prove. In my experience of sexism today (which I once naively believed I would never have), it is still prevalent. It is unquestionably better than is used to be – without a doubt! We have much to be proud of in society today compared to 100 years ago.
In my life I’m blessed to not often be subject to “old school” sexism. I still get the average amount of irritating catcalls when I’m walking down the street in the summertime and the kids are home with my husband. There is one convenience store near our house that I won’t shop at because of the demeaning way they treat me, and apparently all women who enter their shop. But that’s about it.
What I notice far more prevalently, however, are the comments. The comments people make to me, and sometimes to my friends. The comments like “You plan to keep working, even though you have small children? Who will take care of them?” “You know you can’t expect that kind of pay, why are you asking for so much from them?” ”I really don’t think you capable of that that” and (my personal favorite) “Ssshhhh”
We’ve won a place at the table, but the table isn’t a place of equals. And sometimes, “sssshhhh” can be hard to fight. Because sometimes they are right and you do need to sshhh. But then you ask yourself……how much do the men need to ssshhh? Not so much, it turns out. And how many men are “capable” of the things women are not “capable” of? Quite a few, as it turns out. And let’s not even get started on the pay and who’s taking care of the children…….
When I graduated from college at twenty-two years old, I really did not think I would experience much sexism in my life. I felt sure that my mother and grandmother’s generations had taken care of that, and it was hard to learn that I was wrong. However, we have achieved so much in the last 100 years. Let’s make the next 100 even better!
Happy 100th International Women’s Day!