Tackling Everyday Sexism
“Jeez, it’s just a joke.”
“You’re offended? Ugh, it’s political correctness gone mad!”
These are the common responses you’d likely hear if everyday sexism is called out.
What is everyday sexism, you might ask? It’s not a silly question. For something so pervasive, everyday sexism is frequently invisible. It can be defined as something said or done, sometimes even something small, which plays into the stereotypes of gender.
“Don’t lift that love, you might break a fingernail.”
“She must wear the pants around here.”
“I can’t take her seriously, look what she’s wearing!”
Sometimes the words, actions or decisions might be “well-intentioned” and hard to recognise, other times it can be malicious and blatant.
Regardless of intention, sexism in all forms is offensive and its normalisation isn’t acceptable. Sexism feeds into a culture of disrespect and objectification of women and further impacts groups who are already marginalised including trans women, disabled women and women of colour.
A report released by Male Champions of Change titled “We Set the Tone” offers incredible insight in to how deeply ingrained everyday sexism is within our culture, particularly in our workplaces.
The report helps to explain what everyday sexism looks like, why you should care and what you can do to help eliminate it.
While everyday sexism might not be something you have discussed by the water cooler, it is something you should know and care about. Not just because you have a mother, daughter, sister or wife and you want the best for them, but because you agree that so long as gender stereotypes exist then we are all poorer for it. We all suffer.
Samaritans is proudly a White Ribbon Accredited Workplace and we encourage as many people and organisations as possible to stand up and speak out when they see any sexist, degrading or violent treatment of women.
Sexism affects men too; “jokes”, comments and actions feeding into hyper-masculine stereotypes are often ingrained from a young age and are detrimental to the development of boys and men.
It can be hard to know where to start when recognising sexism and calling it out – the “We Set the Tone” report is easy to read and a great resource for you.
Here’s a small snippet:
Everyday sexism affects everyone, but more frequently and to a greater extent, women. And gender is non binary. Gender expression and gender identity influence people’s experiences of everyday sexism. Men also experience problems with outdated male norms and stereotypes.With this in mind, we committed to understand more and take action to address the most prevalent forms of everyday sexism.
What does everyday sexism look like?
- Preoccupation with physical appearance
- Assumptions that caring and careers don’t mix
- Unwarranted gender labelling
What can we do about it?
- Know what you are dealing with
- Find ways to get everyone to see it and acknowledge it
- Set the tone
As leaders, we know that we set the tone in our organisations and we can take a stand to eliminate everyday sexism in our workplaces.