Everyday Sexism


Shirley Huang, Staff Writer

Though there is still much to be achieved in the fight for gender equality, it is the seemingly harmless instances of everyday sexism that maintain and normalize the inequality between men and women. From unwanted comments about our bodies to double standards on marriage and parenting, here are some common examples of everyday sexism. 

Unsolicited Comments On Women’s Bodies

There will always be people out there who feel that they have the right to comment on or even touch a woman’s body without consent. A survey conducted by the nonprofit organization Stop Street Harassment found that over 81% of women have been catcalled, groped, intimidated, and followed or harassed online. In these situations, however, women are the ones blamed for the harassment, like being shamed for wearing “revealing” clothing, as though they were asking for attention when a man misbehaves. Rather than speak up, women are sometimes told to just shrug it off and take it as a “compliment”. 

The Portrayal of Women in the Entertainment Industry

After mindlessly scrolling through Instagram for five consecutive hours, you may have noticed a double standard between the way women and men are presented. Men are typically photographed fully covered in sharp suits or casual clothing, with comfortable shoes to boot. Meanwhile, women are consistently portrayed in a sexualized manner, even if it’s describing their talents or achievements. 

These contrasting representations make it seem as though women in the entertainment industry are primarily valued for their appearance as opposed to how talented, interesting, and intelligent they are. It’s frustrating to know that men in the same industry are praised for their abilities and are never expected to appear in their underwear to gain attention. 

Parental Roles

Throughout history, men have held a more powerful role over women. Because of this, people following “traditional” values still believe that a man should be the breadwinner while a woman is designated the supporting role as a loving wife and mother. Though it is becoming more common for mothers to be the sole provider and for fathers to stay-at-home, the numbers are still fairly low. 

Some men are intimidated by the idea, believing that they will feel unfulfilled or dissatisfied by the reversal of roles. Resentment builds up when one fades away into the background and is seen as secondary. This, in turn, causes working mothers to experience guilt, as though they have deprived their spouse of a sense of purpose and that they are not present enough in their child’s life. 

Relationships/Marriage and Having Children

From their twenties onward, women are often pressured to be committed in a long-term relationship, get married and have children, as though their only purpose is to support a man and procreate. This social norm has created this mindset within women that they should try to “lockdown” a man while they’re “still young and attractive”, have children before their eggs dry out, and become the main caretaker of the household.

Moreover, we live in a country where women have sexual freedom, meaning that they have the right to make decisions about their own bodies. So why is it that women are still looked down upon for talking about sex and shamed for having multiple partners? Meanwhile, men can have as many partners as they choose, even being praised and considered more “masculine” for their sexual prowess. 

The only way to prevent these everyday instances of sexism from continuing is by speaking out. As more people start calling out these behaviors, society as a whole will gain a better understanding of what is and isn’t appropriate.