How Everyday Sexism Defeats The Larger Fight For Gender Equality

Posted on March 14, 2016 in Sexism And Patriarchy

By Suchetana Sinha

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While men and women around the world are struggling every day towards equal rights, there are sections of the society working hard to make them fail. There are times when you and I, who claim to understand the core concept behind feminism, also become a part of this nonsense, unintentionally of course. We are victorious when it comes to living room debates on feminism, but fail to eliminate sexism completely out of our lives, and that is where we lose. This is more than “women should not stay outside till late”, “women belong in the kitchen”, “it does not suit you, you’re a girl!” and so on. These remarks establish very well that a lot of work has to be put in, but what about those mentalities that are certain about their positive take on equality but continue to practice sexism unknowingly?

The minute you say “Hey! You were really funny, for a girl!”, you lose the battle against inequality. The idea was to compliment her sense of humour, but the added on clause regarding gender will only prove one’s inclination towards discrimination. It is so because we have grown up in a society where cinema has shown men in comic roles more than women. Because it is so ‘important’ for him to make her laugh. Because we are not able to give up the idea of hasee toh phasee (if she finds you funny, she’s hooked). Or simply because women still prioritize humour to be a prime quality her partner must have. Or maybe none of the above and the root cause is something totally different, but it is time that we, the liberal forward thinkers pin point the gaps that lies within. Any further ignorance would only cripple the efforts devoted in the hope of a free society.

You and I share the same ideologies when it comes to equal wages for both the sexes, equal opportunities and the right to wear whatever one pleases. But the moment both the sexes associate their female colleague’s success with an intimate relationship she may or may not have with her superior, the fight rewinds itself back to where it began. The corporate attitude incorporated within us admires a woman dressed in western attire but calls an ethnic dresser behenji. Is power, excellence and confidence a copyright under a pair of trousers and not patialas? Or are we that naïve to accept what empowers one person may not empower another? Somehow in the middle of all the anarchy, we forgot that different people attain strengths from different things, and it is not our place to tell them which one is it. Probably we were too busy spreading the good word for western styling that the real objective camouflaged; choice.

It is great that the world has openly started talking about the age old myth of men not crying and opposing the remark “don’t cry like a girl”. In fact some of us are so brave that they have taken the phrase “don’t run like a girl” under consideration too. Once skillfully trained by the ‘wise’ men and women in our adolescence towards accepting and preaching gender roles, finally being able to break the shackles of stereotype is indeed a great achievement. But in the midst of all the pride, there is one question seeking our attention – are we there yet? Are we ready to give up the usage of “have some balls” or “don’t be a pussy” while pep talking our friends? Are we chivalrous enough to say it loud that not only men but women too are entitled to chivalry?

Yes, it is a long journey, sinuous paths and bumpy roads. But if we fail to overcome sexism, be it of any form, then one day in the very near future, white flags shall be raised as we kneel down in front of patriarchy, inequality, female infanticide, crime against women all together.