Thursday, September 4, 2014

The f-word and everyday sexism

Oh hey, it's mine and Beyoncé's favorite topic: feminism. Let's talk about it. I'm joining Marielle from This Flooded Sky and Kiersten from She is Fierce for their monthly F-Word link-up and this month's prompt is:

What kind of sexism have you experienced in your everyday life?

So glad you asked. The thing about sexism is that it's so insidious in our daily lives it's easy to participate in it for years without even realizing it--something I basically did all throughout high school.

If you're not a feminist then you might be wondering why it even matters if you don't know that sexism is occurring. As in, what's the problem? But the second you become aware of how much bullshit permeates our society, it's pretty hard to ignore/not want to change. 

Some people never become aware of the bullshit, and I like to call that willful ignorance. But have you ever stopped to just think about the words we use and the stereotypes we take for granted? 

I feel like I'm constantly going on about all the "don't be a pussy/bitch/little girl" phrases so many so dearly love to use, but it boggles my mind that such terminology--coupled with the male-centric phrases we use to describe someone we're impressed with--isn't indicative that our society is, at some level, sexist.


Several guys I used to know would throw the word pussy around as an insult and every time I'd call them on it, they'd just roll their eyes like feminazi, please, it's just a phrase.

Just a phrase? The fuck does that even mean? How do people think language works? That it just randomly forms through some mysterious process no one knows about and is not actually influenced by anything?

These phrases are based off the well-established (sexist) belief that men are strong and powerful while women are fragile and weak. How is that not fucking obvious? 

So I guess what I'm getting at is that my experience with sexism often comes back to the language we use everyday, that we then try to deny is rooted in any sexism at all. Friend, don't insult someone by suggesting they're a woman and then tell me it's all jokes. 

Here are other examples of sexism I see daily:

--Men being shamed for having emotions other than anger. Oh, what, a feminist actually cares about how sexism affects men? Shit, it's almost like I'm an actual feminist and not Fox News' definition of one.

--When my guy friends make that stupid meow sound to indicate bitches be fighting. Obviously no girls really like each other or get along and we're all frenemies. Hear that, Marielle? I secretly hate you and want you to fail. 

--When a woman's not very nice and someone insinuates she needs to get laid. Not everything is about the penis, okay?

--When a guy friend called me a tease because I didn't like him back. Sure, women tell their friends a guy's a jerk when he doesn't like the friend back, but tease is specifically reserved for women. It's the mark of a woman who dared to smile and laugh at something a guy said once in the night. 

--It's when the guy behind me at a college football game heckled an opposing player by suggesting he get his Vagisil. I laughed, because sometimes living in this society means I have to turn my feminism off. Even when it goes against what I've proclaimed to be important.

--It's being subjected to comments about my looks by strangers in a way men simply aren't.

--Or watching yet another movie where the leading actress takes off her shirt or parades around in underwear and the leading man is only required to smile and look good in a suit. 

--Oh wait, it's the notion that men are visual and women aren't and that's why naked women are everywhere. 

--It's when men are called "whipped" because they actually respect their girlfriends. 

--It's when men are called homophobic slurs because they don't have "typical" male interests.

--When women are called "butch" because they don't adhere to gender norms. 

--It's a news report that can't fathom how two boys' lives have been ruined by a guilty verdict in the rape trial of a teen-aged girl who had explicit photos of her sexual assault spread online. 

--It's watching the naked images of ex-girlfriends and female celebrities spread all over the internet with the justification that anyone dumb/slutty enough to take naked pictures deserves what's coming. 

--It's reading those justifications on the pretense that male celebrities would be treated the same way if they had nudie pics but knowing no one is as scared of male sexuality as they are of female sexuality. 

--It's actual goddamn news reports on which actress is going to take her clothes off next for a role. Huffington Post, I am so looking at you, you piece of shit. (Wow, who knew I hated HuffPost so much?)

--It's two hours writing a blog post on sexism and only scratching the surface.

Ugh, come on Beyoncé. Let's go home.


  1. I love this post, and I'm so glad you linked up this month! It's so utterly ridiculous the amount of sexism in our culture that people like to think isn't there! Like yeah, people have been saying "man up" and "don't be such a girl" for years, and maybe they don't realize the connotation of it, but it came from somewhere - it didn't just pop up one day with absolutely no meaning behind it. We say those things because culturally, we believe that women are weak and men are strong and any deviation from that is "wrong".

  2. Oh, no worries, I secretly hate you too, so let's catfight. And YES on the language (and everything else). I spent like an hour yesterday making this (awesome) word cloud of sexist language for next month's topic and I'm still thinking of ones I missed. Just barely scratched the surface there.

  3. On the subject of calling someone a pussy as an insult, I read a hilarious quote from Betty White that totally applies - "Why do people say "grow some balls"? Balls are weak and sensitive! If you really wanna get tough, grow a vagina! Those things take a pounding!" A lighthearted quote that made me laugh. Hopefully it'll get a smile out of you too!

  4. The ironic thing is that the same guys who scream, "Language doesn't matter!" all obsessively point out the "fem" in feminism and insist that the word itself is proof that feminism is just misandry. Cognitive dissonance much?

  5. I hate, hate, HATE the term "whipped"! It's like implying that a man is weak or a pushover because he loves and respects his girlfriend. Thank you for the variety of different issues you addressed, including how sexism is harmful to men as well.

  6. I HATE the concept of a tease and men who think that simply because they're "nice guys" and interested in a girl that she's required to return that interest.

  7. It boggles my mind how quickly people are ready to dismiss sexist phrases like, "man up," and etc as "just phrases." Of course it's typically guys saying it, so of course it's "just phrases" to them, it's not insulting toward them.

  8. YES. Oh god, the "I'm not a feminist, I'm a humanist" argument. Because of course being a feminist must absolutely only mean you exclusively care about women.

  9. Ughh, I hate the term "whipped." And it's usually used for such banal reasons-- like a guy who can't go out one night because he told his girlfriend he'd go to dinner with her parents or something. Granted, I don't know real guys actually say this amongst each other all the time but the media portrayal that any guy is whipped if he chooses his girlfriend over friends gets incredibly old.

  10. I feel like you meet so many guys like this too. "Oh man, I opened her car door and bought her dinner, she totally owes me sex tonight!" If you're being nice solely to get laid, you're not actually a "nice guy." Stop crying that no one's interested.

  11. Haha, I'm excited to read it. God, that's a long list, I bet.

  12. Yes, I love that! And it's so true. Vaginas are strong--way stronger than testicles. Why the whole having balls has come to equal strength, I'll never know. (Just kidding, of course I know. Sexism.)

  13. OMG. When I worked with 6 guys that was my retort to them calling each other pussies. The great thing was that once they thought it over they actually changed their insults to match.

  14. I love the gif you used because you know how I feel about Bey. I love, Bey. Always and forever. Also, I really wanna see this fight between you and Marielle, I think it could be epic. I loved your post because YES to all of it and the sad thing is that sexism is pervasive that it's just there so much that we aren't even aware sometimes. Like I said when we were talking on FB, it's like water and we are the fish. We just don't notice it anymore because it's EVERYWHERE and we are all drenched to the skin.

  15. hahah that's awesome, at least they paused to give some consideration to their insults!

  16. Oh, sugar plum, don't you just speak the truth. Sexism has become so insidious (you know that's my favorite word, mostly because of the movie) that people like to refuse to see it. And who doesn't love Bey? Let's plan to go to her concert too.

  17. One vagina is being redeemed at a time thanks to your hard work.

  18. As a writer the nuances of language fascinates me. Unless you pause to consider the history of a word or phrase it can seem innocent enough.

    I would love to live in a world where we do not insult each other at all, but if that can't happen at the very least lets not demean one by calling them the other.

    Oh and I would like to slap every man that tells me I'm being overly sensitive when I call them on these things because its not just a phrase, not even close.

  19. Right? It's so easy for a guy to not think it's a big deal. You're on the winning end of phrases like, "don't be such a girl." It's the same with people who use 'gay' and etc as insults and then say, "oh it's not about gay people, it just means stupid." Oh lord. Stop and think for a second about what you're saying.