The discourse around sexism in 2018 has been incredibly groundbreaking — but more importantly, a long time coming. Like a kettle set to boil, women all over the world have simmered for long enough in silence. Now they’re firing off. The courageous outpouring of accounts of sexual harassment run the gambit from occurring in the home to school, to the workplace.
There is no band-aid, or quick fix, to centuries of sexualising women and young girls, their objectification, systemic subjugation, and unfortunate silencing. There is no archetypical harasser, either. This much we have learnt. They come in the form of influential celebrities, your co-workers, your relatives. It’s astounding to think how taboo talking about such a commonly occurring ‘practice’ has been, and in many places, still is.
Breaking down the desensitisation and taboo regarding sexual harassment is a grassroots movement in itself. The bedrock of sexism is, and has always been, gaslighting women. Gaslighting them into thinking they are overreacting or being uncool. Don’t allow yourself to be gaslighted any longer. Be vocal to your friends, family, or colleagues if you hear them making casual sexist remarks. It all starts with communication. If you’re struggling with how to start these conversations, read these four ways to learn how to deal with everyday sexism.
Sexist remarks have become so common that most people use them unintentionally. It is important for you to ask them why they felt it was okay to make joke ‘X’ and let them know why it was inappropriate or made you uncomfortable. Oftentimes it is as simple as bringing awareness around the implications of words and statements.
2. Don’t Hesitate To Confront
If people in your life persist to make inappropriate remarks despite you being vocal with them about how that made you feel, then perhaps confrontation is the only way. You do not necessarily need to be aggressive if that isn’t your style. You can still be firm, though, and let the other person know that they’re being sexist.
3. Keep Your Management In The Loop
If you’re offended by a colleague making sexist comments but don’t feel safe directly confronting them, there are people who can do that for you. It is important to reach out to upper management in your workplace. They will deal with the individual without your name being used. It’s important to always be aware of all the avenues that are available to you.
4. Don’t Laugh At Sexist Jokes
Oftentimes the fear of being excluded silences us and makes us partake in sexist commentary, even when it is to our detriment. The problem with this is that it encourages our oppressors. Even if everyone in a room laughs, you should speak up – or at the very least not engage.
Some examples of everyday sexism:
- “You are the smartest woman I have ever had a conversation with.”
- Diminutives such as “girl,” “honey,” or “little.”
- Being interrupted or talked over.
Ways men brush it off:
- “It was a joke.”
- “Calm down.”
- “I didn’t mean it.”