Sexism is prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s sex or gender. It isn’t very clear as to in which era did sexism come into existence, so let’s try to understand what must have led to where it is today. Each and every human being is unique in some or the other way, each with a different story, background, gender, class, creed, race, nationality, religion, occupation, appearance, etc. Some traits are inherited by birth and cannot be changed whereas the rest are inherited by choice throughout one’s lifetime which may or may not be possible to change in the future.
According to Aristotle’s famous aphorism – “Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god. ” This human tendency wants to create a sense of bonding with other humans by finding common traits from which they can relate better. Society often clubs people based on their traits under a single category which can be based on gender, occupation, etc. and that’s how human psychology works, it’s human nature.
This categorization often leads to creating judgments and a set of general expectations as to what kind of behavior or work is to be expected from a particular group of people or an individual. For instance, for a very long period of time, it was believed that only women are supposed to do household chores and men are supposed to go out to work and earn. This turned into a curse when women weren’t allowed to do the work that men were doing. This gave rise to Sexism and with time it got so deeply rooted that even women were constrained to believe that they can’t do what men can.
Patriarchy is a social system in which men hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege, and control of property. Patriarchy took birth from sexism; the continuous oppression and discrimination led to creating men driven society where the role of women was often looked upon. The thinking that a woman’s role is confined to only household chores and raising kids is what actually led to the belief amongst the society that they are only meant for household work. This thought has been so deeply pressed upon everyone by the society that women themselves start believing in patriarchy to be just and fair. Money and power have always been an essential game-changer in everyone’s life and because men were earning, they were given more credit, despite of the fact that what women were doing was more essential for the overall growth of the society.
But, some daring women took the charge to change this general belief to prove to the world that there isn’t anything in this world that a woman cannot do and their struggles made them a legend.
Women are been conditioned to believe that men have authority over their thoughts, perceptions, and decisions, that men can treat them however they want as if they own them. This misleads learning from a very young age, a girl is taught they are weak and vulnerable and needs protection at all times whereas boys are taught to be brave always, never let out emotions or cry because it will make them seem vulnerable. This inflicted learning stays with them and they become an outcome of the same. Whereas others who don’t believe in such orthodox principles teach their children that they are boundless and can achieve anything in life if they make efforts towards it.
The popular notion of “what will the society say?” brought it upon the people themselves and limits the growth of a lot of aspiring people. This notion only exists because of the general role expectations and mere judgments of the society. Even in this 21st century, many women have to fight for their basic rights to get an education, equal opportunities in life, equal pay, etc. The LGBTQ+ community is still looked upon as a stigma and a lot of times are denied of their basic human rights and opportunities in life.
Difference between Sexism and Patriarchy
Sexism is prejudice or discrimination based on a person’s sex or gender whereas, Patriarchy is a social system in which men hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege, and control of property.
Patriarchy can be one of the causes of sexism but they are not the same.
Sexism against women has been so common that it just doesn’t occur to oneself that even men or any other gender can be a victim of sexism. Because most cases of sexism are related to women therefore sexism is often confused with patriarchy. This confusion is created also because comparatively, the number of cases where the victim of sexism has been anybody apart from women is less. But nobody, not even men or Trans or any other gender for that matter should face sexism ever. The opportunities provided shouldn’t be based purely on anyone’s gender or sex but on their skillset and experience.
Patriarchy and sexism have been a slow poison to the society because it has led to many major problems in the society like domestic violence, rape, molestation, and other such crimes against women and other genders. The physical emotional or social power of someone over somebody shouldn’t overpower anybody’s actions or thoughts in life. Although the perception and situation have changed for better in recent times, but even then people are being judged, oppressed, and marginalized because of sexism and patriarchy.
Physiologically, men and women are different and will continue to be so till the end of time and this is one of the major reasons as to why patriarchy came into existence. When men are viewed as physically strong, women are mentally strong, nature has created men and women to balance out each other not overpower. But at the same time, a lot of women and men have broken these general stereotypes. But nobody should ever be constrained to these judgments or stereotypes in the very first place.
Such discrimination often starts at home, so the change needs to start from home as well. A UK based couple, Beck Laxton, 46, and Kieran Cooper, 44, decided not to reveal baby Sasha’s gender to the world so he would not be influenced by society’s prejudices and preconceptions and have been raising their child as gender-neutral for five years. This could be an example of how a parent can develop their child’s personality with no stereotypes involved.
There is a need to educate young minds that gender doesn’t define anyone’s limit and everyone deserves respect irrespective of their background. These stereotypes will only end when the mindsets change. But more than changing the mindsets, everyone should be encouraged to stand against Sexism, misogyny, and patriarchy and voice their opinions to have their rights.
Movements like “Me too” which voice out against such oppression should be encouraged more. Most importantly, the victim-blaming should stop. At times, even family and friends don’t support the victim which may come from the orthodox mindsets of society. Such thoughts need to be eradicated through logic and argument. A wife, being a victim to domestic violence, is as unjust as a husband being a victim to the same. The ultimate fight is not between a man or woman but the thinking of them being overpowered in any respect.
The battle is not between a man or woman or any other gender but the thinking of any one of them being superior to the other in any respect gets the right to exploit. The ultimate struggle is against such an ideology.
So, sexism and patriarchy, both, are dangerous evils of the society, affecting every generation in every section of the population around the world. It is the time to root them out and establish a world of equality, where one is judged on the basis of skills and capabilities, and not on the basis of gender or any other background characteristic.