Last night, I was brushing my teeth and thinking about the day that had just ended. I thought back to dinner at El Pollo Loco with a couple of girlfriends. Ruefully shaking my head, I made a mental note to never eat beans again. A little voice popped up inside my head asking, why? And I answered myself scornfully, girls don’t fart, that’s why!
Suddenly, I stopped mid-brush.
What was that? I was shocked at myself. Me, a long-standing feminist who believes in equality, just made a basic sexist assumption. Of course girls fart! It’s a natural biological function that is definitely not limited to the male sex. Then why did I just think otherwise?
Slowly, it dawned on me. Sometimes sexism is the stereotypical frat boy whose machismo and superiority oozes out of every pore. It can be as obvious as a friend saying, “That’s women’s work,” in response to a request to help clean up. Sexism is the fact that women make two-thirds the salary of most men.
But sexism isn’t always this obvious.
I think the worst kind of sexism, or at least the most difficult to combat, is the sexism we find in ourselves. Were you told as a child that it’s not ladylike to swear, burp, fart, eat as much as you want, or even cut your hair short? These are the sorts of hidden mini-assumptions that guide our lives and are incredibly difficult to notice. So how can we fight sexism if we ourselves are subject to sexist mindsets? It seems impossible.
It’s important to remember that no one is perfect; these hypocrisies aren’t intentional. How we think in these subconscious moments doesn’t reveal our “true” opinions of gender equality; it’s simply a mirror that reflects what society has told us. Don’t be afraid to confront your assumptions. Equality can only start when you recognize these little injustices and say, “Wait, that’s not fair!” Sometimes the most feminist thing you can do is realize that you’re not a feminist all the time.
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