Column: We haven't fixed sexism yet
Many people look at sexism as a historical problem, solved when women received the right to vote and entered the workforce. This is an erroneous perception based on dated ideas of what equality means. To understand modern sexism, knowing the difference between misogyny and sexism is imperative.
Kate Manne, Cornell philosophy professor and author of “Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny” explained this in an interview with Vox’s Sean Illing.
“Sexism is the ideology that supports patriarchal social relations,” explained Manne, “but misogyny enforces it when there’s a threat of that system going away.”
From my early adolescence, patriarchal social relations were a dictator, though Mom tried hard to prepare me for much more. There was often animosity from boys when I showed interest in rough games on the playground and my creative ideas were shot down, yet praised when reused by male counterparts.
My first stalking experience occurred at the tender age of 12, when a middle-aged man approached me in a grocery store, following my mother, sisters, and me all the way to our car. Not long after that, I received my first catcall while walking to the little flea market up the road from my house.
As an adult, chauvinistic ideology pervades my life more than ever. I cannot count the number of times that I have received sexual messages on social media and called a slur an hour later because I did not give the expected response. Women must be available for men and ask for little in return, including respect.
Manne explained that because of these ubiquitous social structures, women are seen as commodities and “a dominant man might feel entitled to…feminine care and attention from women.”
The inception of the incel (involuntary celibate) community is an example of how insidious this issue has become. While the term was coined by a 20-year-old woman in an online singles group, it was picked up soon after by angry, often alt-right teenage and adult men on social media forums. Hateful, violent threads popped up from acrimonious men who are angry that women have not or will not have sex with them.
According to Keegan Hankes, a senior intelligence analyst at the Southern Poverty Law Center, the incels “believe that women are withholding sex from them, and they are celibate not by choice but because of societal structures, or because feminism or because of the evils of women.”
This movement, made up of at least 40,000 members, is not just creating online discussion, but rather inciting terrorist actions. The righteous rape and murder of women is a common belief for the group. Multiple incidents have occurred because of this rhetoric.
In May 2014, 22-year-old incel Elliot Rodgers went on a violent shooting and stabbing spree, which resulted in the deaths of 6 people. Before his rampage, he posted to Facebook stating, “The Incel Rebellion has already begun!” Following the attack, he posted a video on YouTube explaining his actions before fatally shooting himself.
I’ve heard so many men counter accusations of sexism with an exasperated, “But I don’t hate women!”
There are a great many wonderful men in my life that I truly believe do not hate me. They probably don’t subscribe to the level of hatred that the incel movement believes. However, I have witnessed them hate other women in ways they probably find minute.
Watching loving men in my family criticize 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton by her looks and personality rather than politics was eye-opening. I am not a fan of Clinton’s politics and I openly admit that I did not vote for her (or Trump!), but I will defend her as a woman every day and twice on Sunday.
The president is the most influential office in the United States, which means that the words of that person mean more than most. Donald Trump’s words against not only women, but racial minorities and people with disabilities, are vile. He incites hate and praises those who follow through.
“Grab her by the p***y,” Trump said in a Hollywood Access video. “When you’re a star they let you do it.”
“Fox viewers give low marks to bimbo @MegynKelly,” tweeted Trump in 2015. He later suggested she was menstruating, after she countered him with tough political questions.
He called Rosie O’Donnell a “fat pig” and regularly refers to Stormy Daniels, who he is currently locked in a legal battle with, as “horse face.”
These are just a few of the many comments that the president of the United States has made. That sentence alone is unbelievable to me. Our past presidents have had their faults and I certainly have not agreed with all their methods, but never has such apparent sexism existed in one of the most powerful offices of government. Many of the more conservative men I know, who certainly do not hate me, are fans of him.
You can’t tell me that sexism is dead while groups like the incels exist, rampant misogyny rules the White House and the men around me either champion the chauvinists or make excuses for them.
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