Here’s something you might not know about me: I’m a bit of a control freak. If ever a situation arises wherein I lack control, it tends to bother me. A lot. As a woman who has difficulty giving a hairdresser free rein over her fringe, I find it particularly hard to relinquish all power to Mr Random on the street, or Mr Banter in the office. Yet that’s what I find myself doing almost every day, when confronted with casual sexism.
As I pointed out in my last post, every woman’s experience with sexism is slightly different to the next, as are every feminist’s reasons for identifying as such. Personally, my feminist Kryptonite is the issue of casual, everyday sexism.
‘But we’ve moved on from the 50s – we’re a civilised bunch!’, I hear you say (possibly). You’d be right in thinking that sexism isn’t quite as prevalent or overt as it used to be. You only have to watch one episode of Mad Men to be reminded that a heavenly wardrobe was the only good thing a woman was entitled to in that day and age. But back to today, and the constant drip-drip-drip of casual sexism has led to us barely noticing, or even simply accepting, much of it. It’s dangerous stuff, this Kryptonite.
Ask any woman and, feminist or not, she will surely be able to reel off a list of instances in which she has been targeted and treated unfavourably simply for being a woman. Instances in which she loses all her power as an individual, and becomes simply an object for ridicule, a target for unsolicited abuse.
To illustrate this point, here are a few examples of my own brushes with everyday sexism. Off the top of what might, in these situations, be referred to as my ‘pretty little head’…