26
Oct

“THE F WORD” – Why do women have to walk on eggshells when talking about sexism?

Introducing our new series, THE F WORD – real talk about feminism (a.k.a. gender equality).

Check out our first article by WIB VP of Marketing, Roxanne Leslie.

 

“When a man gives his opinion, he’s a man. When a woman gives her opinion, she’s a bitch.”
― Bette Davis

 

A few months back, in our WIB Club group chat we discussed the possibility of talking in the open during orientation week for new students about the sexism that exists at our business school, where about 70-75% of classmates are male. We didn’t agree on the best course of action. Why?

When women talk about sexism, we have to walk on eggshells. Talking overtly about sexism is still seen as controversial in our MBA program, which is supposed to be the launchpad for the future leaders of the world.

If you call someone out on their sexism in too subtle of a way, they won’t take anything away from the interaction and continue with their old beliefs. If you call someone out “too” directly, you will potentially be labeled as a “feminazi” (an actual term a male classmate told me to avoid being labeled as by not speaking out too much about feminism).

It really is a dilemma for women because neither outcome is good – either you don’t help the behavior to change, or you get labeled as an “angry feminist.”

Well, “sorry”, but I am angry. Angry that men can say sexist things and no one will tell them they’re wrong. Angry that people slap unfair labels on women who speak out. Angry that some men refuse to open their eyes and see that gender inequality still exists, even if the facts are all around us.

If I tell a man, put yourself in my shoes, he truly won’t be able to because he’s never been a female.

Believe me, many men are still able to understand our point of view, I’m not broadly making the judgement that all men are sexist. But unfortunately, many still are.

As I’ve learned from personal experience, you can’t force someone to change their opinion. They have to be ready to listen to what you have to say and willing to change their minds. The same male classmate that warned me against becoming a “feminazi” told me that you can only reach people when they are ready.

I have found that pointing out when someone makes a sexist comment (in as nice of a way as I can, I admit sometimes it doesn’t come out in the nicest way), will at least inspire that person to think about the effect of the words they have spoken. Many times people are not aware that what they said could offend someone else. For that reason I personally think it’s important to speak up when someone says something sexist, in a way that doesn’t attack the person who said it, but rather helps them understand how they have offended someone else.

I don’t have the solution. I hate that I had to edit myself when writing this article because I don’t want people to label me as that “feminazi” (who wants that label?).

All I know is, if you want things to stay the same, then keep doing what you always have done. If you don’t like it, say something!

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