July 14, 2017

Everyday Sexism

Is everyday sexism “real” sexism?

Andy Murray hit the headlines on Wednesday this week, not only for getting knocked out of Wimbledon during the quarter finals, but also for correcting the reporter who commented on Sam Querrey being the first American semi finalist since 2009.

Murray corrected him by stating he was the first male player (both Williams sisters have been in the semi final and actually Serena has won multiple times, including last year). This has sparked quite a debate, and the topic of everyday sexism was discussed on the Kaye Adams show on BBC Radio Scotland yesterday.

I’m a feminist. And it’s something I’ve become a lot more vocal about as I’ve got older. I’ll correct people or make comments about wondering if I’ve stepped out a time machine and gone back fifty years. We’ve come so far in our fight for equality, but we still aren’t equal by any means. There are the obvious things – not getting equal pay, not having the same career opportunities and the fact that those career opportunities are often damaged by going off for maternity leave. But everyday sexism is actually worse, it’s subtle and brushed off as a joke. But these “jokes” have an impact. And there is so much in our lives that is the daily norm, so much so we don’t even see it as sexism.

I’ll give you a recent example when everyday sexism affected me. Not too long ago I got a parking ticket for £85 for parking in a hotel car park I’ve used many times (two days before this visit the hotel introduced a parking charge – there were no signs advising of this). I was using the hotel to have a meeting with someone regarding the then upcoming Edinburgh Blogger Conference. When I went back to the car I had a charge stuck to the windscreen.

I disputed this with the hotel at the time in person and got no help, so of course being the social media type, I took to Twitter. Keen to actually get this sorted I thought I would go with the DM route first, no point making it public straight away and annoying them – I wanted to get the ticket cancelled! I explained why I’d been using the facilities, had used them many times before and if there’d been clear signs I’d have happily paid the £3 parking charge (or gone to Starbucks nearby which has free parking). The operations manager came back and said there was nothing he could do as the car park was now dealt with by another company.

The car I was driving this day was Mark’s so it would be him getting chased up about it. So after my failed attempt Mark got in touch with said hotel, stating the same as me. He said the person who used the hotel had been there for a business meeting regarding an upcoming conference. And guess what? Within about 3 emails the issue was sorted and the ticket was cancelled.

Now, the cynic in me says it’s because a man got in touch with them, and his business would be more important than that of a female blogger (my Twitter profile states I’m a blogger). I might be wrong, but I suspect I’m not and to be honest the company maybe didn’t even notice they were being sexist.

“Jokes” and “banter” about women, whether saying a woman’s place is in the kitchen or being a homemaker/housewife, these are the things that are put in the subconscious of younger generations. These are the things that make people still think gender specific roles are a thing: women cook and clean, men DIY and do the gardening. Guess what, men eat and make mess so why shouldn’t they help? And women want a garden that doesn’t look like a jungle and don’t always want to call on the man of the house (if there is one!) when a picture needs hung, why shouldn’t we grab a hammer too?

I live with a (wonderful) man who mucks in around the house, we have specific roles to an extent, but these are to do with our preferences, not gender. I clean the bathroom, Mark does the hoovering. We both wash clothes and dishes and we cook dinner together. He never makes sexist jokes. He says he’s not feminist, he’s ‘personist’.

I’m not saying that sexism is something that only comes from men, there are many women who are not feminist (I feel for any sons and daughters they have) and still think gender specific roles should be followed. There are so many examples of everyday sexism from women, from still expecting doors to be held open by men, to the expectation that a man will give his seat up for you. But one of the biggest are marriage proposals. A lot of women still expect to be asked. It’s the twenty first century, if you want to marry the person you’re with you don’t have to wait for them to ask you, you don’t have to wait until a leap year. JUST ASK!

As women we won’t have full equality until we embrace it too. With each generation it gets a bit better, maybe by the time it comes to my grand-kids generation equality will be so common place we won’t even have to talk about it any more!

And next time you see a guy standing on the train or bus, why not ask him if he wants your seat? Although if he’s as tall as Mark, he might not fit in it, but that’s another rant for another day.

What are your thoughts on the everyday sexism debate?

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4 comments so far.

4 responses to “Everyday Sexism”

  1. Hey Kayleigh.

    Really good post and food for thought.
    I was on the other end of everyday sexism last year. Both the hubby and I phones were up for renewal, though both being busy and working we went to a high street phone shop/ provider at different times. We eneded up with exactly the same phone and plan however, Ross' was £5 a month cheaper which over 2 years adds up to a good saving. It was a female who served him and for what he said she really put the charm on to get the sale. I can't help but feel that because I was a "girl" I got slightly doped out the better deal. If the phone company can give a cheaper price to one customer, they should give it to all keeping everyone happy. When this contract is up, I already know which provider I'll be changing too. I may be looking into this too much, but you can't help it sometimes when it still happens so much.
    I completely agree about the maternity leave affecting your career and feel its so sad that most women have to choose one or the other.
    I'm sure one day we'll all just be people Like Mark says.

    Chrissie xx

    • Kayleigh says:

      I think that is often how it so easy to get away with, we are told we are overthinking things or looking into it too much but like I said it is so ingrained in our culture we don't even always see it as sexism.

  2. Rachel says:

    Absolutely love this! It's so important to remind people of these things that might be small but have such a huge effect! I lived with a man that was adept at everyday sexism, and now I know so much better. I'll believe there's equality when I don't have to read extra material about how to be hired in my field, simply because I'm a woman!

    Rachel || https://wordofrachel.com

    • Kayleigh says:

      Rachel I feel you on the first point, it's amazing that I didn't even notice until I was out the situation and in a new one! Hopefully for the next generation the issue with jobs won't be there, we won't have to see adverts urging women to pursue careers that are typically seen as male roles.

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Frocks and Fairycakes is a Scottish fashion and lifestyle blog written by Kayleigh, a cake and coffee enthusiast, complete tea jenny and lover of all things sparkly.

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