If you can relate to one or more of the following symptoms (examples), you may be diagnosed as “Subtly Sexist.” These behaviors can be exhibited because of a simple lack of awareness and they do not always mean you are purposefully trying to hurt your fellow humans. Call a friend, family member, or doctor for help if symptoms continue to occur.
1. You are a man that avoids shaking hands with women.
This may not be a purposeful blow to those who check the “F” box while taking a survey. But if you are in a group of males, shake their hands and for some odd reason skip over the women in the group, you may need to reassess your true values.
2. Assigning certain tasks to certain genders.
If you find yourself delegating tasks to a specific gender (i.e. clerical work for a woman, physical labor for a man) without any knowledge or background of their actual capabilities, you are being subtly sexist.
3. If finances are tight and you expect the man to take on more work.
If finances are tight, the help of two is always better than one or at least one volunteer is better than one being volunteered.
4. If you say, “Man up!”
What does “man up” even mean? Both men and women can be sensitive, strong (emotionally and physically), brave, or scared. How about re-inserting the phrase “hey, be a decent human being”? I know, I know. It’s not as demeaning.
5. If you ask a woman when she is getting married and/or when she is having children.
Now, I am not talking about the people who have openly discussed a desire for marriage or having children with their friends or family members. I am talking about if someone has openly expressed their lack of desire for marriage or children. Settling down and having children is not a woman’s sole purpose in the world. Not everyone needs to get married and the world is overpopulated — CELEBRATE if someone is not going to have children (Secretly, because out in the open may turn a few heads).
6. Being offended if a man does not help you with physically demanding activities.
When women do this, we are shortchanging ourselves. We are also turning man into the enemy when really, we are in the wrong here. Feel free to get upset if you are struggling with a physically demanding activity you cannot do by yourself and no one comes to help but do not get upset with just men. Get upset with those who may have been able to help but did not regardless of their gender.
7. Asking only women to refill drinks or get food.
This one is a bit rare (even in the South) but I have seen this occur at certain family functions. It goes a lot like this: men and women are surrounding a table when one of the men gets thirsty or hungry. One man requests, “Hey, could you refill my drink/my plate?” or “Could you bring me some paper towels?” Not to the men but only (and always) to the women at the table. So unless we are your actual waitresses at a restaurant, feel free to ask a man to help you out with such things from time to time.
8. Giving less attention to a woman sharing ideas.
On occasion, I have seen a group of men having a discussion and as soon as a woman chimes in — eyes are wandering out of boredom or there is automatically less intentionality occurring when a female speaks than when a man is speaking. Sometimes it may be the ideas themselves but other times it may be the subconscious bringing forth that subtle sexism.
9. If you constantly interrupt someone.
I have seen more men interrupt women than women interrupt men but that does not mean it does not happen. This may occur because assertiveness is often rewarded for men but not for women and submissiveness in women is often seen as a desirable attribute but not for men. Interruption automatically states the idea that your ideas are superior to their ideas and if it happens on a consistent basis…male or female — it does not matter; superiority is the heart of sexism.
0. If you are uncomfortable with switched gender roles.
This will be a gut feeling that occurs when you see a stay-at-home dad or a woman in a leadership position (i.e., preacher), and it deceivingly whispers, “this is not the natural order of things.” You may not mean to have these feelings and you may even think these feelings are correct; however, if a woman has leadership skills and a man is taking care of his child—it is perfectly natural. Let people lead and let people love.