Sexism’s Staying Power

A week ago, I received a Facebook update from a friend that stated “I just used my boobs to get out of a speeding ticket.” The update irritated me, especially because it was posted from a friend that works at a nonprofit organization that fights for women’s rights. What?!

A day later, I received the same update from another friend. When I responded, I was sent an auto message that informed me that I was playing the “2014 BREAST CANCER AWARENESS” game.

Obviously the “game” as a hoax—there was no donation language, no link to a breast cancer nonprofit organization, no authority of any sort. My friends had obviously been duped into spreading an internet scam that preyed on people’s willingness to engage in social media for a good cause.

Magazine images, Huffington PostSexist Statements

One of the reasons I was so dis-spirited, despite the illegitimacy of the “game,” was how my friends participated. The game gave them 9 different enigmatic statements from which to choose, like “Damn diarrhea” and “You just won a $900 scratch card,” all of which were supposed to illicit a reaction. My disappointment is that of the 9 choices, they both chose the only obviously sexist statement.

Their choice got me thinking about how we women can be complicit in perpetuating sexism in our society. This type of chauvinistic language isn’t funny no matter what the game. It’s harmful and has lasting impact.

Objectifying Women

And then it was the Emmy Awards and the backlash from the Sofia Vergara’s bit where she stood on a rotating pedestal, serving as eye candy while the presenter prattled on next to her. He deadpanned that he was only giving the viewers what they wanted: hot woman on a plate.

Again, I was disappointed that Sofia Vergara participated in the skit. She is not only a multi-Emmy award winner and the highest paid woman on TV, but she also runs her own production company and media agency. She’s no dummy and yet she chooses to perpetuate her sex siren stereotype.

With her star power in Hollywood, Vergara is in a unique position to combat rampant sexist in an industry that wallows in it, not to continue to profit from it. I wish she had not agreed to do it. The producers should not have asked her. The writers shouldn’t have thought for a moment that the skit was funny or appropriate.

Blaming the Victim

And then we have the released photos of naked celebrities. Instead of a focus on the right to privacy in this country, the discussion rapidly devolving into a form victim blaming. Many media outlets claimed the woman shouldn’t have posed naked instead of focusing on the crime that had been committed against them. A true case of adding insult to injury.

Women’s Complicity

From famous women in the media to regular gals in the work world, we are unfortunately continuing to perpetuate societal sexism. In the end, we are our own worst enemy, participating in  harmful constructs instead of forcing change.

Our everyday actions matter. We can’t hope to be treated with equality until we women stop the coquettish complicity in the sexism that permeates our society at every level.

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This entry was posted on Friday, September 12th, 2014 and is filed under Social Issues.

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