Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Ending Sexism Isn't Just About Ending Discrimination Against Women

       As a female, I acknowledge sexism exists but not just because I'm a woman, because I'm a person. Simply taken as a word sexism is not allied with any gender. Sexism isn't defined as anti-woman or female suppressing and yet that is the first thing that comes to mind when the word is spoken or written. In a basic google search with the single keyword "sexism" approximately 80% of the page is about discrimination against women, the other 20% is gender neutral. In a world where we are striving for equality it just doesn't seem fair that not a single result came back that was about sexism that discriminated against men.

      Now, you might say that this is because men aren't discriminated against or that they are to a lesser degree then women. It is undeniable that women had a rough go of it, they only got the vote in the 20th century, less than 100 years ago in some countries, but the same can be said for many poor men (the majority of the male population in the last 200 years, defining poor as not being a lord), after all the franchise was first extended to "men of wealth" not the guy who lives next door (unless of course you lived next to a Lord). I'm not bashing feminism don't get me wrong, a lot of feminists have accurate statistics and have done excellent work, I am certainly not saying that it is wrong for women to fight to increase their rights. What is wrong is when this comes at the cost of boys and men.

       Lately the world has been taken by storm with a series of campaigns telling girls to feel good about themselves. This is awesome! Even if companies like Dove and Always are also essentially getting free advertisement by promoting self-esteem at least they're promoting self-esteem. On the flip side I can't say I've seen a single campaign promoting the self-esteem of young boys. Think about it, when was the last time you saw a commercial, an advertisement or a campaign that tried to make young men, the future generation of fathers, husbands, partners, friends, feel good about themselves? I've thought about it a lot tonight and I can't think of one. So yeah things are rough for girls, but they're also rough for boys heck they're rough for people because at the end of the day that's what we all are right, we're just people.

       If we're all just people and we're collectively striving for equality then why is the book by Todd Harris Goldman, Boys are Stupid Throw Rocks at Them still on shelves! If there was a book written like that about girls there would have been an immediate recall. Yet companies like Barnes and Nobles, Abe Books, Chapters & Indigo all sell this book. Although copies of this book should be saved for the studies of psychologists, sociologists, historians, anthropologists, doctors and other academics and individuals trying to unravel society, this should not under any circumstances be sold as a children's book. Its not okay to stone girls and its certainly not okay to stone boys or tell them that they're stupid.

      I took a Women's Studies course last year about how women are portrayed in popular culture and one of the discussions was about Barbie. In the Barbie lecture my professor told us that when the average young brothers who rip the heads of Barbie were asked why they did so, the overwhelming answer was that 'she had it coming to her'. I think that is quite possible that Goldman's book will have the same effect. How is a little boy supposed to be okay with himself if he thinks he's stupid, you might say well, he'll just deny it, but then think about how often (if you're a woman) you've ever even for a second compared yourself to a model, actress, or even book character and then felt self-conscious.

Its not okay to make yourself feel better at someone else's expense. This is bullying on a large scale.
      Even if we can as women assert that we are beautiful in ourselves without the make-up, high-heels, short skirts and push-up bras, it is untruthful to state that you've never felt even a slimmer of doubt about you appearance. I certainly can't say that I've never felt like I wasn't as pretty as an actress or model. So my question is, if women judge themselves by the material thrown at them, then how can society possibly expect that boys will not do the same?

     We are all just humans at the end of the day, whether its against boys or girls discrimination is not acceptable. Books (and all the associated merchandise with them) should not teach our children how to blindly judge others and discriminate against them. Any book, t-shirt, merchandise or person that uses the slogan "Boys are Stupid Throw Rocks at Them", is not telling a joke, it is not funny, what it is, is sexist. It is pure blatant discrimination and it is long overdue that we started including sexism against boys as part of the conversation.

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