“…I’ve been in male-dominated pressrooms for most of two decades, eight years of them in Washington. And I can tell you without a moment of hesitation that it’s not about ‘an atmosphere. It’s about sexism.’
Oh, the chorus will chime in that I don’t know anything about sexism. I was, after all, born after the approval of the birth control pill, after the publication of The Feminine Mystique, and after the passage of the Equal Pay Act. I was born after discrimination based on gender was explicitly outlawed, and I was 3 when Roe v. Wade established abortion as a right. I don’t remember the for-men-only help-wanted ads, and girls’ sports were safely protected, thanks to Title IX, by the time I was had my softball mitt in hand.
According to conventional wisdom, ‘overt sexism,’ as Chotiner calls it, is a thing of the past, and mine a sexism-free generation. This has proven a handy talking point for participants on all sides of the Great Feminist Debate. Obviously it’s useful for conservatives, but it also has been embraced by older feminists for whom the changes of their generation seemed—and correctly so—miraculous, a journey complete. By those definitions, sexism is gone, except of course in small corners where it thrives, like maybe at Hooters, or Walmart” (Sarah Blustain, linked above).
Laura Bates notes that sexism is hardly limited to media-based occupations. Women in any career face sexist, degrading behavior. In Women Report Workplace Sexism, Bates highlights 10 stories from women in 10 different fields, as shared on the Everyday Sexism Project. Here are just three examples:
- I am a female doctor working in a public hospital. I am constantly reminded by patients and other hospital staff that being a female doctor is not yet accepted by society. The first thing a patient says when they see me is “Nurse, can I get another sandwich?”, “Nurse, can I get another blanket?” or my personal favourite, “Are you a nursing student?” There have been several occasions when I have spent over 40 minutes with a patient, explaining to them that I am their doctor and running through the investigations and treatment I am going to provide, and all I get in response is: “OK, but when do I get to see the doctor?”
- I’m a full time musician, and one of the bands I play with was recently reviewed at a live gig for a leading jazz magazine – every male member of the group was mentioned for his musicianship or instrumental skill. The first thing that was said about me (the only female) was that I had a fetching flower in my hair.
- Having to listen to male students make sexist and misogynistic remarks about my clothes or my looks while I’m teaching English literature. They think I can’t hear them but I can.