It is not new for any modern woman to not face sexism. While it is a sad truth, the approach to reduce sexism at home is not encouraged. Instead, people hold on to the out-dated notion. They pass down to the generations, and efforts to diminish it are often mocked or ignored. Although focusing on solving the major problems is significant, it is the minor and trivial examples of ordinary discrimination that often preserve and normalize inequalities between men and women. Here are a few types of daily sexism at home.
Reputation Of Good Girl
Piyali Bhattacharya’s book “Good Girls Marry Doctors” gives us a glimpse of how a young woman bears parental expectations. These and many more are common occurrences that qualify as sexism at home. Most cultures reward ‘good girl” labels to women who sacrifice, adjust, and do not complain about their miseries. On the other hand, “bad girl” labels describe women with outspoken, bold, and ambitious ideas. Simultaneously, schools and society encourage shaming “bad girls” for living their life to fullest. This, internalized misogyny strips women from their basic freedom. While girls fight over with each other, it continues to propagate within generations.
Also, the emotions that one can display also co-relates with one gender. The idea of exhibiting traits which are pre-defined gender norms is revolting. Young boys are still encouraged for outdoor activities like lawn mowing and young girls are still encouraged for domestic work, like helping in the kitchen. Even today, in many countries, a woman with a sexual past is frown upon. This also includes those who were subjected to abuse. While some changes are making their way, we have a lot to improve.
Unsolicited Comments on Body
Fatphobia, Racist slurs, dressing style, you name it, we have heard a thing or two in past. No one likes when some comments on their body. Young girls undergo this since puberty. People feel entitled to share their opinion on the matter, whether you have added weight, have too many acnes or remained the same. Any person who has suffered for many years with an eating disorder and body issues rarely welcomes other’s opinion. Such comments deteriorate self-esteem and make you feel like you do not deserve happiness until you reach that expectation.
While family continue this practice, we cannot blame everything on them. For a decade, the beauty industry has profited off on the insecurities of young minds. From gaining that perfect hourglass figure to bleaching their skin a tone lighter. It targets normal things like body hair, etc. to make us feel insecure. Sexism also attacks men who are not “fit” or “strong”. However, beauty standards are rigorous when it comes to women. Nearly 80% of young teenage girls report fears of becoming fat. Whereas 25% of male children/adolescents were concerned about their muscularity and leanness. (Source) These notions are very disgusting and need to discourage. Even now, in the name of self-care, dozens of beauty products are now targeting every small “imperfection”. The notion of “Curvy” is also very restrictive. All of these create life long body issues for people.
Social Evils: Tools of Suppression
It is no surprise, but the crimes against women are higher than men. A support centre performed a qualitative analysis based on all medical certificates for victims. Of the casualties, eleven per cent were males. Repetition of episodes of abuse against women is more frequently than men. (Source) While this continues, the precautions are not very effective. Families restrain girls to socialise and some cases to study to protect them. While we appreciate the concerns of family, stripping away girl’s freedom is not okay.
According to a report, family pressures are the primary cause of girls dropping out. Hostel Curfews are the result of such sexism at home. Unfortunately, many parents seek such restrictive ways to “protect and control” their daughters. Schools and colleges play a crucial role in harbouring the future leaders and developing them. Implanting such regressive norms like hostel curfew, not opting for night shift job, etc. will do more harm than good.
In American society, society sees women and men on different levels when it comes to sexual morality. Even, at a personal level. Boys and men are celebrated and admired for heterosexual sexual encounters, due to the sexual double standard, while girls and women are derogated and stigmatized for similar activities (Source). In 1963, the US government introduced the Equal Pay Act. However, the US is still far from providing equal pay for equal jobs to women. A female working a full-time, year-round job earn eighty-five per cent of what her male equivalent earns in New York(Source). Between many racial and ethnic groups, the difference multiplies. Also, the standards are too high when it comes to getting a job. It is difficult for women to be independent when they get less than they deserve.
The “pink tax” applies to how women’s goods, such as razors, jackets in “feminine” styles, are often more costly than men’s counterparts. Advertisements often hype-up women’s product. Actress Katherine Heigl spoke about how, after birth, people presume women to “snap back into shape“. Also, For taking care of their home, society celebrates men overwhelmingly. However, a woman who takes care of her household is merely doing what is expected of her. While the list goes on, these are few that need to be fixed.
Socially Regressive Norms
The tradition of a woman taking the last name of her husband goes back to the oppressive marriage system. Furthermore, here a woman’s father gives her as a possession to her husband. The tradition is still common. A 2017 Gender Issues study showed that women who bear their maiden names are seen as less dedicated wives. Policing women’s clothing and her life choices are more prevalent than ever. While there are fewer women in police, the moral policing remains a hurdle for many.
It has escalated to what we all know as cyberbullying these days. Direct, verbal, and indirect or emotional bullying is part of it. Not only it creates overwhelming stress, but also restraints the approach of the audience from their social media page. Imagine, writing an article or drawing something different from the socially acceptable norm. You will come across many people who feel entitled to get an explanation from you. Women face criticism when they share any opinion on politics, religion or even when they voice their inconvenience. These are all parts of controlling and oppressing ideas.
What You Can Do?
While all of us might not practice such sexism at home, we can take mini-steps to prevent it. Always speak out whenever you see any inappropriate treatment. Stop mansplaining or manterrupting. While it is good to correct someone, understand the person’s knowledge comes from their own experience. You can also take this quiz to see whether you are sexist or not. Avoid using sexist language, slurs and jokes. While they seem harmless, they can communicate a subconscious message like women being bad at driving, etc.
Sexism affects all those who do not adhere to gender stereotypes. Because of their race, age, disability, social origin, belief, gender identification, sexual orientation or other considerations, the ill effects of discrimination can be more for women than men. Help the children understand prejudices and perceptions, and how there are gender divisions in the culture and environment. It will best prepare them for the future and teach them that the gender gap is unrelated to a difference in ability, but because of a biased society.
If sexism at home did not exist, women will have the right to dream without restrictions, to lead without fear of being broken down, and the freedom to learn from their errors. Society could see, understand, and appreciate the efforts we make and the job we do. And it will unleash human capacity everywhere and promote it.