Sexism and misogyny are everywhere. It is so insidious and sinister that you — a feminist, perhaps — may realize your own sexist assumptions sneaking in, born from the media and general societal discourse.
It’s no secret that women are judged by their sexual activity and aesthetics. And in a world where social media is becoming the holy word, these outlets are known for two things in the gender issues handbook: the sexual objectification of women and giving a face to misogyny.
Research released by Demos revealed findings conducted in the UK over a three-week period. The study monitored the words “slut” and “whore” and found that 6,500 people were victims of 10,000 misogynistic tweets. Worldwide, over 200,000 misogynistic tweets were targeted at 80,000 people in just those three weeks.
But sexism doesn’t need to be that obvious or aggressive to be damaging and have negative consequences.
There was a Twitter trend this Halloween season where boys started posting tweets about how Halloween makes them scared to ever have daughters, and hope that they only have boys. They were obviously referring to the many women who left their homes on Halloween in scantily clad or risqué Halloween costumes.
There are so many sexist assumptions behind this. Let’s start with the most painfully obvious – slut shaming.
Slut shaming is when a female is criticized for her actual or assumed sexual activity, or for behaving in a way that implies her sexual activity. Men who slut shame, such as those who participated in this Twitter trend, are implying that it’s relevant to comment on women’s sex lives and personal choices.
Men criticize women’s appearance for being too sexual (by their standards) so that they are able to control them. This is an example of rape culture, which uses shame to control women, and in its most severe form, blames them for being raped.
Shaming a woman because of how she dresses to the point that you blame her for your wishing for a son instead of a daughter is tasteless and nauseating. If you’re going to argue that you don’t want a daughter, how about the many other reasons to be afraid of raising a girl? How about the estimated American women who have been victims of attempted or completed rape? Or the ominous yet subtle encouragement by social media for women to acquire eating disorders?
There are a million and one reasons to be afraid of the incredible responsibility that is raising a young girl in this f*cked up world. Her choice to wear a certain outfit shouldn’t be anywhere on it. And if you even dare try to tie that reasoning to the likelihood that she’ll be raped, I’d like to cordially invite you to the club of victim-blaming that is our current social discourse.
This BS is everywhere. So, how do we change it?
Well, contrary to what you may think based on the above example, millennials are one of the most open-minded generations there are. Aside from asserting and discussing your rights and views as a feminist through whichever medium you choose, you can also teach the next generation to know better.
It is up to us and to parents to change the way the world looks at women’s bodies, bodily autonomy and sexual freedom. From choosing non-gender specific conditioning of our children to encouraging body-positive dialogue in the house and amongst ourselves, we can hopefully eradicate the evil and damaging views expressed by some less #woke members of our generation. Hopefully, the boys who participated in the recent Twitter trend will someday instead choose to get on board with a more body-positive future of parenting. Either way, we can’t stop talking about it, or future generations will to.
Yes, we’ve come a long way from the sexist views that many still held even just ten short years ago, but what we say, do and write can still have detrimental effects on the continued journey to equality. Millennials will hopefully carve out the much-needed route and set an example for positive parenting.
Daughters are wanted, celebrated and just as capable as sons, whether they’re dressed in their work attire on Monday morning or heading out for a fun night on the town as a Playboy Bunny on October 31st.