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?