Subtle Sexism is Still Sexism
So. We’ve come a long way, and everyone realizes we still have a long way to go when it comes to ameliorating the discrepancy in the wage gap between males and females. In 2011, women were making only 82% of the weekly earnings of the male counterparts (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
I don’t want to downplay or discount the importance of closing that pay gap, but I do want to say that sexism is working in other nefarious ways, and is having societal impacts that people do not want to admit.
I have long been uncomfortable (and sometimes I feel I’m the only one) by the subtle sexism at play in “chivalry.”
I identify as female, and I open doors– for everyone. Always.
I allow others to open doors for me, but there’s this really grey zone that happens when a man opens a door for a woman, but won’t then hold it open for the man she’s with. Like, is being a good human something that should only happen around women?
As we’re doing work on Equality FTW, this is an issue that strikes me more and more often. Why do some parents raise their boys to treat women differently from men? I truly don’t understand it.
To me, being treated equally– indeed, treating people equally– isn’t something we can have both ways. That is, as a woman, I can’t ask for “chivalry” and ask for equal treatment as a member of the workforce. Those concepts don’t work out together. They’re at war. They’re fundamentally different concepts.
When I expect or desire to be treated differently because of my gender identity or expression, I am asking for unequal treatment. Then if I go around flaunting my femininity in people’s faces and demanding equal pay… Well, I mean… that doesn’t work out. That isn’t fair.
I think a lot of women these days, from what I’ve experienced, expect men to treat them one way (opening doors, paying for meals) in some instances, but to then treat them as unequivocal equals in different instances. How confusing this must be to men!
For my part, I expect equal pay, but I expect to hold my own in terms of paying for meals and opening doors. If I’m going to ask for equal treatment in some areas, I’m going to take on the responsibility of being an equal on all levels.
I think it’s only fair.
In the end, I like to think equality will eventually win out and women will take the next step to being on par with men (by opening doors, paying for meals, etc.). I think it just helps if we unmuddy and clarify what equality we want and how we expect to take on the responsibilities we’ve always been owed by being equals.