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Treating people by their gender. Does it matter why you are treating them by their gender? Does it matter if you have ‘evidence’ and ‘statistics’to back up your generalizations? To do this you would need to know the generalization appllies to the person in specific. Otherwise it’s not the freedom to persue based on merit.
Among other things treating people as a collective rather than as people. “You say you don’t want children? But you are a woman. Women want children. Therefore, either you do want children or you will want children.” See, no true Scotsman.
Something can be sexist if:
- It assumes one gender is inferior. And therefore removes choices based on that belief.
- Believes the gender in superior. And therefore removes choices based on that belief. (Benevolent sexism.)
- A policy or bias that treats people differently based on gender.
- An attitude towards people that sees them not as people, but as a member of a collective.
The old and rigid definition of sexism is thinking women are inferior. However, the more modern definition of sexism is treating women different because they are women. That is, treating women as all the same. In both cases not treating women as full people with power over their own lives.
“You’ll want kids someday.” So a woman says she does not want to have kids. So far as I can tell less than half of women and less than half of men don’t want any kids. People, *often other women*, commonly reject the woman’s autonomy, treat her not as an individual, and say that *because* she is a woman she *will* want kids. This, despite the fact that many women live their lives without kids and are happy. And many women who have kids wish they didn’t. I think both are in the minority, but that just underlines the point: they are not being treated as individuals, but as women who must conform to gender roles and stereotypes.
People don’t say to me, ‘you will want to farm some day’ or ‘you will want to work retail someday.’
The real issue is not that someone said this once, somewhere, someday. The problem is this one is very common. The idea that a woman could want something other than the stereotype denies the personhood of that woman. It’s in a very small way, but it’s true.
And here is the thing: women face this stuff all the time. Think of the metaphor about the straw that breaks the camel’s back. It’s not that the straw is too much. It’s that the summation of the entire load is too much.
Women constantly face this kind denial of their personhood. All women? No: Women who fit the gender stereotype have no problem. If they want children, and want to wear makeup, and want to make their husband breakfast in bed and dinner every night they don’t even notice this pressure. To them it’s support.
(Aside: It’s true that pseudo-feminists will tell women who want to be stay at home mom’s that it’s wrong for them to want this. But this pressure is rare enough they can usually take it in stride. Feminist scholars point out that while culture more shape more women to want that they they would otherwise, that it should be a woman’s choice. But that culture should be changed to encourage multiple paths more easily.)
As for your comment about *women say it* I have two responses. The first is about /horizontal oppression/. That is when people of an /oppressed group/ keep other members of that group down. Think of a small rural town from 50 yeas ago. The ‘town matriarchs’ (old women) would conspire against women who didn’t ‘know their place.’ If a woman didn’t want to get married, or wanted go to university, or didn’t want to have kids, the women of the community would pressure her or sabotage her effort because it’s ‘not right.’
(The extreme example of horizontal oppression is the head slave that would keep other slaves in line and go after and attack slaves that tried to escape. They benefitted from the system so they accept it.)
The other response is to realize that different people can say the same words and mean something different. Take the sentence, “I never said she stole the money from them.” Depending on which word you emphasize the sentence changes meaning completely. Try it! Every word make the sentence change.
Now, realize that if someone says ‘why are you being so emotional’ what they mean and what their goal is depends on who they are and why they are saying it.
A friend might notice a friend being emotional and ask why, only then to find out that the woman was recently assaulted. Oh, that’s why you are being emotional. Let me help with that!
However, when a coworker who is a man is passionately opposed to something people think he is being strong, even if he is wrong. He may be a bastard, but he is a bastard that gets things done.
But if a coworker who is a woman and she is passionately opposed to something she is not seen as making reasoned objects, even if she is right. She is seen as emotional. The fact is that when someone says ‘why are you being emotional’ they are literally being dismissive of the woman in a way they aren’t when a man acts the same way.
(Aside: It reminds me of those studies where they film a black teenager shoving someone and a white teenager shoving someone. Show them at random. White people more often say the black kid was being aggressive but the white kid was just goofing around.)