written by Daluxolo Shongwe
After dinner with a couple of guy friends at Mugg&Bean, we came across this woman sitting all by herself on a bench. This was around 8 in the evening. In my mind I thought she perhaps needed some company so I greeted her. She however, didn’t react, but instead of walking away I insisted on my greeting. Normal situation right? Where in a woman is playing hard to get in order for me to swiftly sweep her off her feet and in the process get her off that pedestal she sits on (this seen through her supposed attitude). In response, she didn’t smile at me, yet this still did not register as a sign of lack of interest.
Having missed all these cues, her words reinforced the lack of interest. But being the man; I persisted. After a couple of minutes of what seemed a futile effort, I backed off going back to my clique. They listened intently to how the incident went down and responded with raucous laughter whilst telling me she was nothing special. From her walk they’d deduced her as having nothing going for her besides her looks or her body. Does the scenario sound familiar?
You’d fairly say it is an everyday university experience for a lot of women.
The “sham” that is sexism comes wrapped in a ball of confusion and privilege for us guys. The lot simply refuse to recognise it for what it truly is because “This is how it should be.”. When in fact this form of ignorance should be rooted out and anyone who holds this baton burned at the stake if need be, because the impacts of it are astoundingly regressive of our society.
Too often, men dismiss these female individuals solely based on the fact that they are women. I’m a guy, and I can safely say it is awfully too familiar (having been an instigator myself). Here’s another example. A couple living together has constant fights about the cleanliness/neatness of their place. When the male partner relates the story to his friends he goes on to say “She’s just being a nag. You know how women are. Always overreacting.”.
A lot of the time people think sexism is just an illusion, seen only by the radical feminists that are dubbed angry lifeless beings. Yet as subtle as these things may seem, they do however have grievous impacts on a woman’s psychological well-being and esteem. Women already go through the pressures of a standard of beauty which comes in different layers; from her skin tone to the curve of her hips or be it the fat she needs to get rid of.
In turn they end up internalizing these outsider perspectives on their own appearance, which can also lead to increased levels of depression (Frederickson & Roberts 1997). A more recent look into this was done by Oswald, Debra L., Stephen L. Franzoi, and Katherine A. Frost on Experiencing sexism and young women’s body esteem which was published in the Journal of Social & Clinical Psychology 31/10/2012.
So why must they be further dragged down because society thinks by natural design man and woman is different, thus making man superior? With man being stronger, faster, smarter, more in tune ,and more often not a victim of said body image standards (i.e. discrimination merely because they’re men). A natural leader as some would ignorantly say.
Whilst alternatively, women are the weaker kind, meant to be submissive and mere followers (of a pack of misguided alphas) that deserve no acknowledgement because women are too emotional to think rationally. But guess what.
From a scientific point of view, a woman’s brain is no different in the results it produces from that of a male, even though the male brain is slightly larger -which is probably naturally so in order to accommodate our male stupidity. Click here if you don’t believe me.
It’s alright though. Because I too, to some degree, never really saw things in this light. It was the way of the world, much like it could be in yours too and simply put, I was complicit.
Until I was made aware of it. I decided to google sexism and the torrent of results simply made this awareness more concrete. The thought of all the incidents we come across daily irked my being; still does in fact. And that’s the very reason why I’d have anyone start by going to everydaysexism.com, which gives an account of the most seemingly banal and mundane occurrences which ultimately have that underlying scrutiny. It can come wrapped in a compliment, e.g. for a woman, you’re quite smart. Or a seemingly good intention, e.g. telling a woman to step aside just so you can fix her tyre because, being a woman, she most certainly can’t even manage to unscrew the bolts.
In a world where information is at our disposal and on-hand, we cannot be so close-minded and archaic about certain things.
So even if you aren’t conscious of these forms of discrimination based on gender, you might be actively perpetuating and reinforcing them. I urge you not to be the person that subjects any woman to these experiences.
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