Subtle Sexism

The ugly truth behind understated misogyny

Maggie Curran, Opinion Editor

In a very obvious way, sexism, specifically misogyny, exists in our world. Any news debate or politician or idiot wearing a meninist T-shirt cannot say otherwise; it isn’t an opinion. It’s a fact.

That being said, sexism also exists in an understated way. Undeniably, women are subjected to much more scrutiny of their appearance and are placed under more pressure to conform than men. That’s a huge issue, and it’s something that’s been recognized by most people in our modern society. However, there are other less obvious ways that women face misogyny every day. It’s subtle sexism, and it’s everywhere.

Take, for example, the fact that women with jobs in male-dominated fields are typically paid less than their male counterparts. Most people are well aware of this fact. It’s used in political debates and feminist campaigns frequently. However, there’s another part to the story as well. Men in female-dominated fields are typically paid more than their female counterparts. Meaning, no matter what a man decides to do, he will almost certainly make more money than a woman doing the same job.

In addition, when working at that job, a man may be described by subordinates to be “assertive” or “in control.” There are no negative connotations associated with these terms. On the other hand, women are called “bossy.” There is nothing good about being called bossy. It implies an abuse of power, and it’s almost exclusively used for women in the workplace.

Sexism doesn’t clock out away from the workplace either. It exists in all aspects of life. Female sporting teams are called “women’s sports” and male sporting teams are simply called “sports”. Even here at College of DuPage, female athletes are called “Lady Chaps” while male athletes are simply called “Chaps.” This terminology is especially disturbing when one considers the associations behind the word “lady,” associations like delicacy or frivolity. These impressions are not ones that a strong and determined athlete wants to give off. Of course, there must be a distinction between the two sexes, but why is one labeled as merely a branch of the other?

Without even noticing it, we distinguish everything based on whether it is male-oriented or not. Why do people use the term “girl gamers” but not “boy gamers”? Why are there “chick flicks” but no “men’s movies”? Why is our societal default to assume that everything is for or by men unless distinguished otherwise?

Not only this, issues men do face, such as body image, self-concept, not being buff enough, or not liking sports, are always traits that are distinctly feminine. This means that even when men do face similar issues as women, it’s because men do not want to come across as resembling a female in any way. It’s a manly man’s world, and women are just living in it.

It’s all the little things, the small, barely noticeable remarks and terms, which help perpetuate all of the larger issues of misogyny today. It’s the straw that breaks the camel’s back, and in this case, half our population is affected by it. It’s easy for men to ignore these problems because, let’s face it, they’re not hurt by the inequality. However, it’s also easy for women to ignore misogyny because no female wants to believe that this is our reality. It’s the hope that if we overlook the problem, it will go away. But it won’t. If we don’t begin to pick up on every small act of injustice we see, it will never truly go away. It may be subtle sexism, but nothing about it should go unnoticed.