discrimination based on a person’s sex or gender, especially against women and girls. The word “sexism” came from “second-wave” feminism in the 1960s and ’70s and ’80s. Most likely, it was based on the word “racism” from the civil rights movement (prejudice or discrimination based on race).
Sexism is the idea that one sex is better or more important than another. It tells men and boys what they can and shouldn’t do and tells women and girls what they can and shouldn’t do. The word “sexism” was first used to bring attention to the oppression of girls and women. By the early 21st century, however, it was sometimes used to describe the oppression of any sex, including men and boys, intersex people, and transgender people.
In a society, sexism is most often shown toward women and girls. It works to keep patriarchy, or male dominance, in place through the ideas and actions of individuals, groups, and institutions that oppress women and girls because of their gender or sex. Most of the time, this kind of oppression comes in the form of economic exploitation and social dominance. Behaviors, conditions, and attitudes that are sexist reinforce the idea that people’s social roles are based on their biological sex. A common way that sexist ideas are used to socialize people is to teach certain stories about the traditional roles of men and women.
According to this point of view, women and men are different and have roles that are very different from each other. Women are weaker and less capable than men, especially when it comes to logic and rational thinking. Women are expected to take care of their families and deal with their feelings at home. This means that women can’t be good leaders in business, politics, or academia. Even though it’s thought that women are better at caring for others and doing housework than men, their roles are often undervalued or not valued at all.
Misogyny, which is the hatred of women, is the most extreme form of sexist ideas. When misogyny is common, there is a lot of violence against women, like domestic violence, rape, and treating women and their bodies like things to be bought and sold. Women are often mistreated by both people and institutions in places where they are seen as things or as people with less rights. For example, a judge and jury might tell a woman who was raped (the individual or personal level) that she was to blame because of how she was dressed (the institutional level).
Sexism and feminism go hand in hand.
A feminist study of gender in society needs ways to tell the difference between girls and boys and between women and men, as well as ways to look at social differences between them that don’t just boil down to the idea that biology is destiny. The idea of sexism says that prejudice and discrimination based on sex or gender, not biological inferiority, are the social barriers to women’s and girls’ success in different areas. Then, to get rid of patriarchy in society means to get rid of sexism in society. The study of sexism has shown that changing sexist culture and institutions is the way to fix inequality between men and women.
Feminism did a lot to separate gender (and thus gender roles and gender identities) from biological sex. It said that a person’s sex doesn’t tell you anything about their abilities, intelligence, or personalities. Getting social behavior out of biological determinism gave women and girls more freedom from gender roles and expectations based on stereotypes. Feminist scholarship was able to study how the social world put women down by discriminating against them and putting limits on them because of their biological sex or because of social and cultural expectations about gender roles.
The feminist movement worked to get rid of sexism and make women’s rights the same as men’s under the law. By fixing sexism in institutions and culture, women would have the same rights as men in politics, jobs, schools, family disputes, and reproductive rights.
The men’s movement and sexism
As the word “sexism” became more common in everyday speech, it started to be used to describe discrimination and social gender expectations that hurt both men and women. In a cultural backlash, the term “reverse sexism” was created to put the focus back on men and boys, especially on any disadvantages they might face because of “affirmative action.” People who were against affirmative action said that because of their gender, men and boys were now getting less jobs and being turned away from schools. Feminists were upset that the word “sexism” was being used in a way that didn’t fit its original meaning. They pointed out that women are oppressed in a systemic way because of structural and historical inequalities. Men’s rights supporters used the idea of misandry, or hatred of men, to warn against what they thought would happen in a society run by women.
As women’s studies helped show how women were oppressed and how they fought back, the men’s movement thought it was time to show how men were oppressed. Proponents of the idea asked for research to be done on how gender roles limit both men and women. Critical work on men started to look at how gender role expectations affect men and women differently. Since then, it has started to focus on the ideas of hegemonic masculinity and hegemonic femininity to deal with both the oppressive and the free will parts of gender conformity and resistance.
Some instances of sexism
Some people say that sexism can be found in many parts of everyday life. For example, education has often gotten a lot of attention. Sexual harassment and treating people differently because of their gender are seen as widespread problems. For example, male students are often encouraged to take science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) classes, while female students are not. Also, in many parts of the world, women are not allowed to go to school or are told not to. It is thought that about two-thirds of the people in the world who can’t read or write are women. This difference in education leads to differences between men and women in the workplace, which has led to accusations of sexism.
Activists often point out differences between men’s and women’s salaries and jobs. For example, in the United States at the beginning of the 21st century, women usually made about 84% of what men did. Also, women were often kept out of certain jobs, especially leadership positions. As of 2019, less than 10% of CEOs of S&P 500 companies were women.
People have also thought that sexism leads to violence against women. Many people see this kind of violence, whether it’s sexual or physical, as a global problem. In fact, an estimated one in three women will experience it at some point in her life. It is often caused by sexist social norms, such as the idea that men have the right to discipline women and the idea that women often start fights by wearing what is called “provocative” clothing.
Discrimination against disabled people happens all over the world. It can be seen in the attitudes and rules of individuals, groups, and institutions, as well as in the way some environments are set up or how they work. In fact, people’s ideas about ableism are based on what they think is normal ability, which often shapes their beliefs, social norms, and the physical and social environments they live in.
Because of this, people with physical, mental, or emotional disabilities tend to be in the minority and may be treated differently than their peers who don’t have any problems. In the context of eugenics, people with disabilities may be labeled, have their expectations changed, or face discrimination. These things can make disabled people think that ableism, not their disabilities, is the main thing that keeps them from being involved in their communities.