We are Trained to Take Sexism

It’s been almost a year since I discovered that I’m a feminist and have actively taken the route to pursue what this means. During the course of this year I’ve noticed all levels of sexism, from women hating on women, to being told it’s a man’s world, to people who try to invalidate me because of my sex. There comes a point where you think that even if you haven’t seen it all, then at least you have a good idea of the sexism that pours out of people’s mouths and that maybe you even have a response ready.

I’m always surprised by what people will say, but I’m even more surprised by how much I won’t say in response. I think I have my responses, and I know I know what I stand for, but I find myself freezing up.

Today a man in his early twenties had a conversation with me about how I don’t have a car and can’t get to a movie theatre close by. He told me to take public transit and then rethought his answer. He corrected himself: “Then again, I wouldn’t want to be a little girl walking in those areas by myself.”

What?

It took me a moment to process this because it came out of nowhere. This man is maybe two years older than I am. He would never say something like this to a man, but he said it so casually too that he didn’t even stop to think that he just called me a child.

And I didn’t have a response because suddenly everything I could have said felt weak and invalid because this is how I’ve been trained to think. This is how all women are trained: you do not contradict a man.

I now have a clearer idea of where my feminism needs to go. Now that I see sexism clearly in my own life and in the world scene as well, I need to make the same conscious effort to not just see it but give voice to it.

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