Okay, such is a topic I’d hardly take up to discuss because of a couple reasons. One, I am not in the humanities and two, I just don’t have much time around people, in other words, I’m not a ‘people’ person. Tackling issues on such fronts usually present a challenge to me making me pretty evasive of them.
How does sexism present itself in society? Most people are used to vaguely generalizing that sexism is discrimination against women on their liberties/rights/equalities, but we must realize sexism can work either way i.e., it’s a two-way street. Let me try and define sexism with strict logic; Discrimination based on the grounds of sex. The keyword is ‘discrimination’, and it can mean anything. It doesn’t always have to be a bad thing, privileges are also a form of discrimination.
Typically, discrimination could be taking away rights and liberties from a sex. Hence, this sex is the victim of sexism and the discriminating person/sex is sexist. Women have long been deprived of their liberties and that’s sexism without a doubt. The sexism I’m referring to are one’s society and the sex itself have accepted as the convention. Expecting a woman to dress or behave a certain way is sexist. Conversely, expecting men to perform certain duties or be chivalrous is also sexist. Teaching young boys not to cry is sexist. Teaching young girls to look perfect is also, you guessed it, sexist. It’s not just expectations, what people reflect on their actions. Privileges can also be sexist when one sex is favored over the other. A women-only subway car is sexist, so would be an all-men counterpart. In certain cultures, spanking is appropriate for boys but not girls – that’s sexist too!
Certain notions such as ‘ladies first’ seem out of sync with modern-day ideologies. It doesn’t make sense for me to give way to a perfectly abled, non-pregnant woman who’s on ladies night out when I have a be on a transatlantic connection with too many jalapeños in my system. Neither does it make sense for a woman to maintain her form/looks around men when she’s had a crappy day, it’s just absolutely unnecessary for a progressive society. Shaming them for it is just all the more ridiculous.
So why do these forms of discrimination go without debate? Societal perception! People have come to see it as the norm. What do you do when something is the norm? You simply don’t question it. Nobody questions the speed limit on a highway. It’s there and been there all this time. As humans, we are used to trusting and following tradition because our ancestors have sustained following it, giving us our greatest chance of survival should we follow them. Very few liberal and progressive minded societies have broken tradition.
So here’s the deal: the next time a man holds the door for you (in a chivalrous context), hold it for him. He’s sexist for holding it for you and you’d be sexist for letting him do it.