Myth 5: Sexism is a fact.

ImageIt turns out that sexism is in the eye of the beholder. A study of 600 girls between the ages of 12 and 18 from California and Georgia, and of various ethnic backgrounds, showed that the perception of sexism was influenced by their cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Older girls and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds reported more sexism than did their peers. Latin and Asian American girls reported less sexual harassment than did girls of other ethnic groups. Girls who had been exposed to feminist ideas were more likely to report sexist behavior. Girls whose parents pressured her to conform to gender stereotypes were more likely to perceive sexism. Girls who felt unhappy with stereotypical gender roles were most likely to report sexism and harassment.

In other words, a girl’s perception of what is “sexism” and what is not is influenced by what is “normal” in her home, and what she is told is “not normal”.

Regardless of a girl’s culture, experts advise that it is important for us to help the girl understand that sexism is an environmental factor and not a reflection upon her personally. Negative experiences with sexism are not her fault and are not experiences she should allow to impact her self esteem.

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7 Responses

  1. In the olden days, it wasn’t considered rape for a man to force himeslf on his wife. If you were to drag a woman from that time period (and its associated culture), she would be very unlikely to report being raped by her husband, even if she had been. Does this mean that rape is a myth too?

    I think the fact that 90% of girls reported being sexually harassed proves that sexism is fact.

  2. Isn’t it possible that women who reported less perceived sexism actually experienced less of it? Also, women who are unaware that sexism is wrong might be less likely to notice and report it.

  3. When I was a child, I had a complete stranger (male) watch me get a plate of food from the buffet at a restaurant, then tell me I’d better be careful how much I eat or I’ll spoil my figure. At the time, I had no idea that was called sexism, so if someone had asked me if I had ever experienced it, I’d have said “no”. But my understanding of the situation did NOT change the fact that it was sexism, and that he should not have said that to me. We are not hurting our children by letting them know what sexism looks like, we’re protecting them by empowering them to understand their world.

  4. Of course. Sexism is in the eye of the beholder. This is especially true for women.

    Take a rational look at our media. Women bash men all day. Not only in “strong women” or “girl power” songs and videoclips, but even in talkshows and sitcoms. Men however, do far less of this. If a women disrespects a man, it’s funny. When a man disrespects a woman, it’s something to frown upon.

    But, still there are women who actually think only men can be sexists. And actually believe men are more sexist.

    So this proves to me that sexism is in the eye of the beholder.

  5. Sexism in the eyes of economists: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2009/03/01/business/20090301_WageGap.html?ref=business There are a variety of factors, but the first reason they list is flat-out discrimination. Once men and women earn the same wages for holding the same job with the same qualifications, then we can talk about whether or not sexism is a fact.

  6. I actually Think post, “Myth 5: Sexism is a fact.
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