The Revolutionary Influence of Sexism on the Feminist Culture

Published: 2021-09-13 09:45:10
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Category: Feminism, Violence

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“A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.” ― Gloria Steinem
Sexism, in a layman’s words, is prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s gender. Unfortunately, it is spread quite vividly amongst today’s generation; whether it is on the basis of education, workplace, housework, or any aspect prevailing in the society. Although the uprising of these extreme ideologies can be identified to be dating back to the beginning of civilization; a protest against this gender inequality has only been acknowledged in recent times. Thus, the major focus of battling sexism today is to educate and influence people’s minds about changing times. And with changing times, comes evolution of not only the human behavior and their hierarchy in the society, but their intellects too. The reason I chose this topic, is because I have always been very passionate about fighting for women rights and freedom; whether it be a woman suffering from domestic and mental abuse, a woman surviving through war conflicts, or a woman having to deal with gender discrimination and unequal pay in a modern society.
Although, while researching further into this topic, I realized sexism does not only revolve around everything negative. As the famous saying goes, ‘Everything is good in its limits.’ The same way, sexism has had its positive influences on the ideals of the feminist culture.
Global perspective
While the world continues to function towards the changing millennium, it seems as if a few countries have fallen short in that category. Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Yemen, and many other Middle Eastern and northern African countries, consist of a society of people who seem to be stuck in a bygone era, due to the kind of discriminatory values and morals they possess against women. Ranging from having to take permission of a woman’s male guardian to travel, honor killings to domestic violence, to compulsorily having to wear clothes that cover their bodies; these are just some examples of the absurdity of their laws.
Furthermore, in MEDCs like USA, France, and the UK, woman keep facing issues related to gender discrimination at work resulting into unequal pay and little signs of respect, despite the fact that she and her male colleagues are equally qualified for the job.
In a literal way, one can relate this to an idea which was prominent during the Stone Age, relatively 2.5 million years ago. It made sense that men ruled the world then, since it was an age where physical strength was the most important attribute of survival for human beings. The physically stronger person was more likely to lead; and men, figuratively, are physically stronger, (ignoring the many exceptions).
However, present day in the 21st century, we live in a highly developed and advanced world. The person more likely to lead is not the physically stronger person; but it is the one who is more creative, innovative, and intelligent. A woman is as likely as a man to have her rights, to earn her protection, to be as intelligent, and be as strong. The world has evolved, although it seems as if our ideas of gender roles in the society have not yet.
The role of media is vital in shaping the ideals of the feminist culture. Famous, high-end fashion directors and magazines have been portraying women as controversial images of a sexist and patriarchal society. The gravity of this issue has gone so far as to the extent of jeopardizing women’s feelings when they portray one of them in an inaccurate and false way, just to advertise their products to the rest of the community. Instead, if this medium is utilized to its maximum potential, media can prove to be an instrument for introducing change, which could awaken people’s minds about the issue of sexism.
In very recent times, countries have been showing improvement in their attitude towards combating sexism. Such as, Saudi Arabia has taken pride in announcing that on June 24, 2018, it is to lift its infamous ban on female drivers, and have them issue driving licenses. Tahani Aldosemani, one of the first lucky few of women to receive her privilege, reported in an interview, “Driving for a woman isn’t just about driving cars; it enhances their strength of character, self-confidence, and decision-making skills.”
Moreover, in a successful attempt to address the unacceptable wage gap in MEDCs, US President Barack Obama signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act on 9th January 2009, which claimed to be affluent in gaining the undivided attention of the international committee. This act helped make it clear that pay discrimination, whether it is on the “basis of sex, race, national origin, age, religion and disability ,” was not encouraged in any way possible.
National perspective
“The (world’s) fastest growing economy and leader in space and technology is shamed for violence committed against women.” ― Manjunath Gangadhara; Official at the Karnataka State Gov.
Living in the highly patriarchal society of India, it is not hard to find the prominent prejudice of the society against women. It is to be understood, that women too, have rights as equal as to any other man, and in front of the Constitution, their respect, and dignity is as equal as to any other Indian.
Unfortunately, according to the latest Reuters survey, India topped the list as the most dangerous country to be a woman in, due to its high risk of sexual violence and being forced into slave labor . The utter cold shoulder that India has shown towards women’s safety between the high risks of gang-rapes, forced marriage, marital rape, human trafficking, sex slavery, harassment and cat-calling on the unsafe streets, was not neglected by the eyes of the world.
Moreover, a smaller issue than sexual violence, but still holding utmost importance, is the current social status of women in the anarchic society. Still thought to be as the traditional homemakers of a family, a role well defined in the Indian society, women are fighting for some major far-reaching changes.
With the influence of modernization, women have been exposed to new fields that were previously unknown to the woman’s sphere of role sets. Since women of the modern times have generally received higher education than the women of their preceding generation, many of them are now awakened from the four walls of their house, and have their own voice that lets them actively support and participate in nationalist movements; and also secure eminent positions and offices in administration and public life of free India.
Local perspective
When sexists are confronted about their stereotypical beliefs and behavior towards women, they always end up answering in the same manner. Rajkot, a city that is yet to be influenced by heavy feminist movements, has outright expected the women to stop making a fuss about gender biasness. Certainly, like always, women are made the ‘drama queens’ to have been complaining about sexism, which must be overreacting.
People are so shy as to even bring up this issue for confrontation. They believe women should not be talking about ‘sexism’ out in the open, no less even be thinking about it again.
However, it seems as though it really is the time to make a fuss. Reality check, sexism is not an elusive joke that needs to be taken up lightly. They have the right to know that sexism is one of the most dangerous of reasons that hold women back from even stepping out of their home at night, alone, or wearing comfortable clothes that the society judges them for being too radical and bold. For women who experience this sexism, the critics are just mere pawns that help lower their self-esteem and stop them from pursuing what they want to be. Being a woman is not a crime; although they do treat them as if it was.
The society needs to stop normalizing sexism. Only then would a difference be made.
Future scenarios
With a lot of feminist movements currently in progress, it is fair to say that we can all work towards achieving a non-discriminatory society in no time. Personally, sexism on its own is like a definite leash bound to the necks of the people in the society. It holds in hostage some of us back to the era of gender inequality, whereas a few of us managed to break through it stronger than ever, unleashing our feminist souls.
Countries are called out for the need of specific and concerted efforts to accomplish gender equity. Women will have a major hand in how the country runs – through public policy, active political participation, and business leadership. Including women in the autonomous process of shaping the societal ideals and battling patriarchy would be very strategic to ensure justice and fairness in the administration of responsibilities and assets between men and women. At workplaces, women are to be progressively entitled to salaries at face value with those of male employees, welcoming more accommodative work-time, and facilities and choices that enable their career advancement.
Possible courses of action
Indeed, it isn’t impossible to bring out a change in this world, because as it is famously said, “Be the change you want to see,” – Mahatma Gandhi.
It is the government and the activists’ lawful job to ensure confrontation of the sexist ideals of the society. While that is still ongoing, there are many other feasible ways to reduce everyday sexism, which everyone can incorporate into their lives. Standing up for someone when demeaning sexist jokes are shared at their expense; saying something definitive for yourself; coming to your defense instead of expecting someone else to join in on the conversation, and addressing the issue with the person himself and educating them about its burden on women.
Most importantly, studies also show that sexism is biased according to color, ethnicity, disability, etc. It is significant to raise these issues in public; because at the end of the day, regardless of your sex, race, age, ethnicity, and disability, aren’t we all just the same?
Personal response
“I am a Woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal Woman, that’s me.” ― Maya Angelou
Thoroughly, women have been at the end of their patience for a while now; waiting to be accorded equal value to men; hoping to see an end to gender-based violence and discrimination; and waiting to see laws that recognize woman as autonomous beings, who are worthy of respect.
In the mindset of the people itself; and in the patriarchal society and culture, is what is to be held responsible for seeding and encouraging hate-filled acts such as rape, sexual assault, misogyny, and overall discrimination against women. There is only space left for hope now; hope so strong such that the society learns to act against the odds of man, nature, and the oppression of the government for their women.
Considering the existing moralities of the feminist doctrine, shifting ideals of feminine domesticity have steadily defended women’s dependence on men to date. Although it’s true that people’s mindsets are still yet to grow, in the matters of an unbiased value judgment between men and women, and against discrimination of women in the fields of education, health care, housework, family, workplace, and many more; sexism has taken quite a positive toll on the ideals of the feminist culture.
Women, over time, have learned to handle sexism as a challenge to prove their strength to the odds. Certainly, sexism cannot be considered the evil here.
The evil, in this situation, is the mindset of the society; which, to a true feminist, clearly seems like an injustice worth fighting for.

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