About Sexism

Sexism is a phenomenon embedded in our society. According to the 2020 Best Countries report, more than 20,000 global citizens were surveyed in the study about the gender equality. The result showed that the worst country for gender equality is Arab nations following with Qatar and Saudi Arabia (“The Best Countries in the World”, 2020). The problem of gender inequality is not just a problem of some countries but it is all over the world. The U.S. even comes in at the 15th ranking (Radu, 2020). Sexism is a discrimination that based on gender and sex and it is globally agreed that the prejudice is against one sex (Masequesmay, 2019). There is a belief that one sex is superior than another sex under sexism and most of the expressions are described about females.

Let’s understand the term of sex and gender when we talk about sexism. Sociologists explain sex by the biological differences while gender is explained by males and females’ social, personality and cultural differences. Gender affects how the men and women behave and think generally. Those thinking and behavior can be conscious or unconscious belief that some persons of a group are inferior or superior than another group of people. As a result, sexism is incurred where it is a kind of racism. Nowadays, when we talk about sexism, it usually refers to the sexist discrimination against girls and women that people believe that they are inferior than the boys and men. The girls and women are often being justified by their oppressing members that base on their sex (Napikoski, 2019).

Subordinate position of females is common in society because of the gender stereotype. According to the definition of United Nations of Human Rights, ‘gender stereotype is generalized view about attributes or characteristics that are to be possessed by women and men’ (“Gender stereotyping”, 2020). However, gender stereotype is not a positive but false belief because it constrains the ability, thinking, behavior and even the life of women and men. The social practices are influenced widely because of the family, books and stories and finally television and the mass media. From the aspect of family, social scientist Michelle Rosaldo believed that social belief is driven of the gender differences and division of labour between ‘public man’ and ‘domestic woman’ (OUHK, 2019, SOSC A101, Unit 13, p.60). There is always a Chinese saying ‘男主外女主內’ which distinct the roles for men and women that the women (or we can say mother or wife) should stay at home and take care of the domestic work all the time. Meanwhile, the men (father or husband) play an important role that work outside and should not be stayed at home. Consequently, the socialization of girls (daughters) is influenced by the family that girls learn from their mothers and they should do the same practice as a domestic woman. Speaking of books and stories, the children learn from books when they grow up and the books strongly affect their behavior and thinking when they read the messages. There is always stereotype that the boy is called Tom and the girl is called Jenny from the story book. But why can’t the girl be called Tom? The messages on the books convey about how girls and boys and women and men normally behave. Last but not least, the television and mass media play an important role in society that influence people’s mind. Taking the advertisement of Nike as example, David Beckham is the spokesperson of its’ football shoes. But there is no such female spokesperson for football shoes. The advertisement creative is also telling the audience that they will become handsome and attractive as David Beckham once they buy the shoes. Also, the television and mass media always focus on the women are being sexually harassed or treated by violence by men. But those broadcasts ignore the change that men may be also treated in these ways. The underlying hidden assumptions are from the norms that men are superior while women are inferior. As a result, sexism is incurred because of the gender stereotype that happened in all day of our usual life.

Females are always being viewed as inferior than males with sexism. The sex role theory can also explain that females are in subordinate positions with domestic role. It is the same what mentioned above, gender stereotype is developed from the gender division of labor that characterizes a society (Ridgeway, C. L, 2020). Meanwhile, the formation of feminine characteristics is produced by socialization of female role. Women’s domestic role often makes them dependent on men and gives them the appearance of being the weaker sex. Thus, the sex role theory emphasizes the domestic role and behavior of women that should be in subordinate position because of the responding to social expectation and role leaning.