{Guest Post}: Sexism

{Hello to all my readers.  This post was written by a very talented fellow blogger, Natalie.  I know that I have readers out there that will really enjoy this very insightful post.  Happy reading :)}

Let’s talk about sexism.

It sounds simple: there are boys and there are girls, and everyone should be treated equally. Telling women they should have children instead of work? Sexist. Telling men they shouldn’t show emotion or cry – ever? Also sexist. And pressuring girls to wear pink and boys to wear blue? See previous statements.

No one wants to admit that they might be sexist, but maybe we, as a society, need to talk about. I confess – I’m a recovering sexist.

Tomboy
Image Credit: Chris Murphy, creative commons

If I had to summarize my personality in one word, I’d choose “tomboy.” In high school, I played competitive tennis. In college, I bought a motorcycle. No one taught me how to apply make-up, and pink, sparkly clothes aren’t my thing. That was my style, and everyone told me that was A-Okay.

And it was. What they forgot to mention, though, was that being a tomboy didn’t make me better than other girls.The Girl Spectrum

Growing up, I categorized women into two groups: the delicate, feminine Sleeping Beauty and the no-holds-barred Fast and Furious Letty. Cool girls could handle any situation – car chases, gunfights, kicking bad guy butt – while the girly ones couldn’t deal with a hangnail (or the prick of a spinning wheel). In comparing the two to each other and also to myself, I couldn’t figure out why any girl would allow herself to fall into that ultra-feminine category. Sitting around all day, playing with hairdos and make-up, waiting for some prince? Lame. I’d rather play tennis instead, and do something with my life.

I looked down on girly-girls for years, thinking them weak and shallow and useless. I held my nose high because I “did” things with my life: I played sports, earned good grades, aspired to write, played video games, worked out… Girly-girls, too busy avoiding hangnails, couldn’t understand.

And then I learned ballroom dance.

Ballroom dance’s inherent male lead initially fit that old-fashioned gender role I despised, but as my steps became more confident, I noticed a blending of these two types of women: each new move required precision, technique, and a whole lot of practice — all very reminiscent of my days as an athlete.

But wait, hang on. Sleeping Beauty’s tiny cut immobilized her; how could girly girls handle muscle aches or foot pain after a grueling practice session? Stubbornness and a little elbow grease were Letty’s department. I was confused. My extreme presumptions about female dancers’ femininity didn’t reconcile with reality.

For the first time, I saw a shade of gray between girly-girls and tomboys.

Judging Others
Image credit: MTV

This wasn’t something I learned in school. No one told me I had developed some sort of superiority complex; having a masculine personality didn’t make me better than girls with super-feminine interests, just as a man isn’t intrinsically worth more than a woman. I was blinded by my personal sexism. My new awareness of the shades of gray between these two opposing images of women revolutionized how I saw other girls — and myself.

Imagining an alternate universe where I refused to dance conjures up the image of a girl applying stereotypes to herself: you’re either girly or a tomboy, with no in-between.

Thank goodness our world isn’t as rigid and simplistic as the one I imposed on myself.

 

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25 thoughts on “{Guest Post}: Sexism

  1. Nice one Nat. Very insightful indeed 😉

    It’s pretty common for us humans to judge others and forget that we aren’t perfect too. Who can blame us though? Humans in general tend to LOVE themselves more than others lol! Don’t believe me? Ask anyone this- Whenever they look into the mirror, do they check themselves out? Not surprisingly, most do! Why? Because we want to present our best self to the world. The part of us that we love! (Notice how photos taken via selfies are very different from the usual shots taken by other people? Selfies are literally a “Mirror shot”!)

    Considering how much we enjoy in passing our oh-so-important critic and judgement upon others, it sometimes baffles me that even though we know it can hurt someone, we still do it anyway!
    All for the sake of feeding our ego.

    Too much of it- We’d get full of ourselves. Too little- We’d start to wonder if we are worth anything in the eyes of other people.

    Such an elusive problem but such huge impact! An article like this can definitely bring about awareness so kudos to you for writing it and Bike Girl for sharing too 😉

    Your pal,
    Benjamin
    http://www.projectbiy.com

    Liked by 3 people

  2. “Thank goodness our world isn’t as rigid and simplistic as the one I imposed on myself.”
    Hear, hear! Great line that rings so embarrassingly true with my narrow-minded sexist past self!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Great post, Natalie! Growing up, my Mom always said that I wasn’t liberated as a woman but as a person – she was ahead of her time and it allowed me to be me without all the sexist labels. I’m smiling as I write this, it makes me feel thankful, thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post! I definitely agree with this! The whole shades of grey thing as it applies to sexism was such a clever way to put it because it is so accurate. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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