“Watch 80 years of subtle sexism in under two minutes.”
This caption sits under a recently released video by The Huffington Post called 48 Things Women Hear in a Lifetime (That Men Just Don’t). The piece highlights women from a wide age range and many backgrounds, proving that women as a single community face a lot of the same stereotypical comments. Some of the “48 things” mentioned send extremely powerful messages about where sexism still exists in our society.
“Don’t wear that to school. You’re going to distract all the boys.”
“You play video games? The boys must love that.”
“Well what were you wearing that night?”
“Are you planning on working after the baby is born?”
One important thing to note is that the people passing these questions/criticisms in real life are often women themselves. If we all experience the same struggles, why do we as women still feel a need to project them onto each other? Hypocrisy is one of the great mysteries of life. As Madeleine Albright said, “There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women.”
Comments left by viewers of 48 Things also prove that not everyone agrees with the Huffington Post’s classification of sexist phrases. Since when is it a bad thing for a woman to hear she is pretty. Yes, there are other, more meaningful compliments out there. (“Oh, screw beautiful. I’m brilliant. If you want to appease me, compliment my brain,” for all of you Grey’s Anatomy fans out there.) But graciously accepting a compliment is one of the great skills we should all learn in life.
Women and men are innately different in some aspects. Men do not hear, “You don’t even look like you had a baby,” because indeed men do not carry babies. Those differences are not sexism. It is the way in which we treat those differences that produce prejudice, though. It is the way in which we negatively comment on a woman’s weight post-pregnancy (even thought she literally brought a life into this world). It is the way in which we just assume men do not need to take paternity leave but wonder if women will be able to have it “all.”
This video really hit home with some comments but then also missed the mark in other parts. Either way, it’s gotten people thinking.