I dated a guy; let’s call him Kyle, who did everything for me. When I would visit his place he brought me my slippers, switched on the TV for me and gave me an ice-cold Black Label to guzzle while he prepared supper. It was pure heaven, but I simply did not respect Kyle.
I saw him as a lesser man because I was so independent of him. I saw his devotion as servitude and could not bring myself to appreciate a man who, as per my gender-defined upbringing “acted like a woman.” I was his first in many things, so I felt more worldly and experienced and that he belonged to me. It was only when I saw Kyle in his corporate get-up that I was reminded he was the man. It was the moments when I needed his help with my car or when he bought me things I couldn’t afford myself as a student that I thought “wow, he’s the MAN.”
Sexism is defined as stereotyping, prejudice or discrimination against an individual or group based on gender. Sexism against women is largely recognized, although not much is done about it. The definition and daily use of the word is often accompanied by the addendum that women are usually at the receiving end of sexism.
To force a woman into a traditional gender role is sexist because you are using her gender to set limitations or expectations of her instead of simply allowing her to define her human experience as an individual. The greatest component to feminism is that a woman should be respected as an intellectual and emotional equal no matter what type of individual she would like to be. In short, the full time housewife deserves the same respect as the female CEO. So feminism does not trump traditional gender roles, it simply requests that you don’t be a douchebag about it.
So with Kyle I was pretty sexist because by definition it’s sexist to make sexism exclusively a male trait. It’s also sexist for me to have expectations of him based on gender traditions. Unfortunately I didn’t see the harm in being sexist towards a man. Traditional gender roles are designed to give men the upper hand, so I thought I was encouraging him. Instead, I was missing out on a romantic relationship because of my sexist hang-ups.
Men sometimes can’t respect women who give them easy sex instead of enjoying the uninhibited fun they wanted in the first place. Women sometimes can’t respect men who give them easy anything instead of appreciating a fearlessly generous man. Women often look down on women who prefer to take on a more traditional role instead of respecting all women as their equals. Men often call men who are not restricted by traditional roles a colourful repertoire of names instead of switching off the macho-man action figure voice in their heads that makes them do keg-stands. I could go on and on; we are all guilty.
The point is it doesn’t matter who taught us these things because they are not in our shoes. The only way we will ever enjoy full and meaningful relationships is to hang up these sexist limitations and enjoy the full human experience without the agony of having to check if you’re being a “real man/woman.”
Sadie Rhode (@SadieWiggles)