Sexism For Dummies (And Everyone Else)

Are you any sex or gender* at all? Then this applies to you.

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Sexism does not only apply to women. In fact, women are quite often sexist towards men without necessarily realising. Women have had it tough in past centuries/millennia, but now they are finally grasping at equality, it’s about time we actually paid attention to ‘male sexism’ (the term we’ll use to refer to sexism aimed at men).

Have you ever heard a young boy be told to ‘man up’ for displaying emotion? Or perhaps you’ve heard someone tell a man to ‘grow a pair’? These are just a couple of examples of extremely common male sexism. The issue with statements like this is that it creates an unrealistic expectation for boys and men to live up to. What does it mean to ‘man up’ or be ‘manly’? We’ve accepted this to refer to strength and lack of emotion. It implies that a man is not a man unless he is strong and burly, and that if he shows any emotion then he is not a real man. Women are finally fighting unrealistic expectations placed on them, yet why do we still ignore what society is doing to men? This isn’t to say that the battle fought by women isn’t real, merely that everyone should be aware that everyone has things to face.

An interesting example of the difference between the sexes is the verbs ‘to mother’ and ‘to father’. ‘To mother’ a child generally implies to nurture it and rear it, but ‘to father’ a child implies a mere contribution of DNA towards the creation of a child. Why is it that our language also reflects that it is supposedly inappropriate for men to display emotion or offer care without being seen as weak and unworthy?

There are a few campaigns fighting to raise the awareness of these matters but the first step is to learn more about it yourself. Being aware that nurturing aggression and lack of emotion in boys and young men is what causes some of the behaviour that later leads to sexism towards women which causes fear of violence and rape. It’s not that simple, but you get the idea. If we all finally opened our eyes and allowed fluidity of gender and individual interpretation of what masculinity truly is, we might make life for boys and young men much easier. Making life smoother for anyone is worthwhile, especially when we are already to striving to achieve as much for women who have fought against inequality for centuries and more. Men are capable of emotion, of multitasking, of nurturing children and so much more; it’s about time we realised that men are just people with different bits between their legs, and that this doesn’t impair their ability to behave like kind and caring, fully-functioning human beings.

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*To read about the difference between sex and gender, read this article about transsexualism.

What Does Trans Even Mean?

Liz - TransphobiaYour sex is what you are defined as in terms of your genetics and your biological makeup, for example if you have two X chromosomes, you are of the female sex. Gender, however, is how you identify. For example, you can have an XY chomosome pair (which is the marker for the male sex) but identify as a woman. This is an example of being transgender, trans- simply meaning different. If you are transgender, you identify as a gender different to the sex you were born as. If you identify as the same gender as the sex you were born as, you’re technically cisgender (cis- meaning the same).

Someone who is transgender identifies as a different gender to their birth sex, this is often found in ‘drag’ culture. Whereas someone who is a transexual has had a ‘gender reassignment’ so that they outwardly appear to be of the opposite sex in a biological way. For example, someone who is a transexual* may have had surgery and hormone therapy so that they feel they can live as the opposite sex, the sex they felt they should’ve been born as. The term ‘transvestite’ is pretty much transgender and is fairly outdated by ever-changing, modern-day standards.

Transgender is to do with gender identity, transexual is to do with biological sex: trans 101.

 

LGBT (or LGBTQ) standards for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (Q = community). Although being transgender or transexual is not sexuality, it is to do with gender identity. Many people received prejudice and discrimination over the expression of their gender and sexual preferences; the first step to fighting this is through awareness. Being transgender is the feeling that your mind is of the opposite sex to your body (in gender-binary terms**), simple as.

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*’Transexual’ is the word often used but the technical term using rules of the English language is transsexual with two Ss, but this is actually quite trivial.

**’Gender binary’ refers to the idea of the existence of only two unique genders; female (XX sex chromosome pair) and male (XY sex chromosome pair). Some people prefer an identity that does not neatly fall into one category or the other, even if they may have the reproductive organs of only one biological sex. Some people are born with abnormalities on the chromosome pair that determines sex, resulting in combinations such as X (Turner’s Syndrome), XXX (Triple-X Syndrome)and XXY (Klinefelter Syndrome); these genetic conditions are largely irrelevant to transsexualism.   tdor1