Sexism – It’s so easy even a man can do it
There’s nothing I find quite so frustrating as sexism. It’s toxic and hurts our society, men and women both.
This article isn’t about the every day sexism that women suffer, the kind that we’re all in agreement is abhorrent, outdated and unacceptable. This article is about the kind of sexism that is still acceptable to our society and happens in advertising (I’m looking at you Boots the Chemist and every washing powder ad you’ve ever seen), is joked about around the dinner table and is sometimes encouraged by the most independent women I’ve met.
The sexism I’m talking about is this idea that men are useless creatures who are incapable of coping with a cold/looking after the children/doing the house work. Over Christmas, I heard the phrase “men are useless” bandied around time and again and it really upset me. The problem is, this attitude means that:
- Men won’t help with childcare and housework if they’re made to feel like they’re useless at it.
- It keeps these responsibilities firmly with the women, which is fine if that’s the role you’ve chosen to fulfil but damaging if it’s one you’re forced into because well… your man’s useless at it right?
- It reinforces every stereotype about women we as feminists fight against every day
- Men are NEVER going to get on board with feminism and equal familial roles if they feel belittled and excluded (and why should they!?)
Some of you may be reading this and thinking it doesn’t apply to you and that’s great. To be honest, I’m lucky enough that it doesn’t apply to me either. My husband is a much better feminist than me and definitely wouldn’t sit back and listen to tired stereotypes of how useless he must be at cleaning.
But ask yourself – does it apply to any of your friends or family? Call them out! Doing something for your husband or partner because “he’s useless” or because it’s just quicker for you/you’re better at it, is telling him he’s incompetent. No one likes to be made to feel incompetent and the chances are if you make someone feel that way, they won’t help you with that task again in the future. Everybody loses in this situation.
Keeping men out of the conversation keeps us unequal, infantilising them in advertising and “girly conversations” with our friends, keeps us unequal, doing all the household duties and complaining the men in our lives don’t help us, keeps us unequal. It’s offensive to men and women equally and might feel like a bit of a “girls are just better” giggle but is truly emphasising every stereotype you’ve ever fought against.PS: If this annoys you too, The Good Men Project is a great website to spend some time on