Comment: Sneaky Sexism
Words: Laura Atherton
There are glaringly obvious, horrendously unjust examples of gender equality happening across the globe day to day. We know they are wrong. In the UK for example, of course the gender pay gap is backwards, domestic violence atrocious and the fact that there a more male MPs in the house of commons currently than there has ever been women is an absolute joke and failure of our country.
What’s thrown me recently is the sneaky sexism, where it just creeps up on you when you think that you're in a perfectly safe situation. I was sat on the toilet the other week happily doing my daily duolingo to try to (finally) improve my French. I was in the adverb section when I noticed that the sentences that I was translating were going in a certain direction – the women were old, the Queen was ‘ideal’ and the King was wise. Of course he bloody was.
Then, The Stylist magazine allowed a small slip in an article about the Women’s Equality Party, oh, the irony. A man had gone along to one of their meetings. He was there, he said, because of Tinder. Why, you ask? Well, “Online dating opened my eyes to what women are having to put up with. So many girls I came across felt they had to write in their bios that they didn’t want to receive naked pictures of guys or explicit texts.” Girls? Girls?! Are they female children? This might seem like a small linguistic point - but maybe if those other men on Tinder had enough respect to consider them to be women, they may have also resisted sending unsolicited pictures of their cocks.
My next attack of sneaky sexism happened - not in the form of media being presented to me - but from real people, which is always more risky but worth sharing. I was temping on a reception desk, and not having the time of my life. A security guard came up to the desk on his rotation of watching over the entrance (you will be unsurprised to hear that the all receptionist were women and all the security guards men), and said...
"I have never known three women to be sitting next to each other and not be talking. Normally you’re all gossiping.”
Now, although he could ascertain that we were all female, he clearly failed to notice that we had absolutely no interest in one another and absolutely nothing in common. Apart from body parts, which possibly wouldn’t have been an appropriate topic. On another temping day, this time in a health clinic, I was quietly having my lunch in the kitchen when one of the doctors began chatting. He brought up the American presidential elections. I normally avoid politics when I’m temping, but thought being anti-Trump was a fairly safe position. The doctor agreed with the many negative points against Trump and his views on immigration. After a pause the doctor said Trump’s business acumen was worth a look though... I pointed out that Trump has a lot of his cash because his family rather than business skill the doctor changed tact. Clinton, she does seem good, but she may be too old for the job. Too old. Too old as the youngest of the serious contenders. 16 months younger than Trump and six years young than Bernie Sanders.
The doctor started peddling back. Well, this was in his medical opinion. She would have been in her prime eight years ago when she ran last time. Unbelievable. He could reconcile himself with Trump because of his business credentials. But not Hilary. Too old. (In addition, when I was checking the actual ages I typed ‘how old is Clinton’ and got Bill’s age. Sneaky).
Some may say I’m being pedantic in taking issue with these, but isn’t a huge part of the problem that it is so ingrained?