An idea perpetuates in the free spaces of the Internet, one that causes both fury and pity. It is both stated and implied; it empowers and yet weakens: to be a woman in this world is one of the worst things you can ever be. As a society deeply rooted in the patriarchy, much of the world’s mechanics cater to and favor men. Even as we enter a progressive era, sexism remains to be an issue, carried over from generation to generation. It is a type of discrimination that undervalues a certain gender, which is most often than not women. The tricky thing about sexism is that it can be conscious or unconscious, which can be traced back to its deep roots in the system of patriarchy. It impacts a person’s work, behavior, and overall life, as sexism occurs in nearly every sphere: the workplace, at home, the government, and even institutions.
The concept of sexism itself emerged during the second-wave feminism, paralleling the term racism. This was, however, by no means the first time sexism has risen. From the beginning, women in the United States, as well as from all over the world, were regarded as wives and mothers first. They were believed to have less rights than men in various areas, including voting and education. Digging deeper, we can actually conclude that sexism is embedded in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. For instance, the Declaration of Independence states that “All men are created equal”, with no reference to women. Up until 1848, a married woman’s property was considered as her husband’s. The Married Women’s Property Act shattered this law, subsequently copied by other states. Women also did not have any rights to suffrage until the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920.
As series of movements emerged, dubbed now as women’s rights movement, which called for equal rights and status for women. This paved way for women to make significant strides in their lives socially, politically, and socioeconomically. Women slowly gained momentum, now allowed to occupy job positions only men could hold in the past. In 1849, Elizabeth Blackwell became America’s first female physician, while Jeanette Rankin became the first woman to be elected in the US House of Representative in 1916.
Unfortunately, sexism persisted even after the 1970 second-wave feminism, where there came the failure to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. Today, sexism lives on. Rape and sexual harassment haunt women everywhere – in the workplace, the streets, and even their own homes. There are stigmas still in the workplace, where women report power plays and less salary offers. Women are greeted with lewd comments and gestures in public spaces. In school, teachers report that some boys in the classroom call girls “whores” and “sluts”, that the girls are “interrupted if they dare speak”. The consistent mistreatment of women exists in all levels, and the roots of patriarchy runs deep.
As of 2018, we have yet to elect a woman president in the United States. Instead, a man with rotten values runs free and powerful, threatening women in power into silence. Studies by the Council on Contemporary Families show that attitudes among the youth have become increasingly sexist once again, since the late 1990s. With such troubling data, it’s no wonder why women still fear walking at night alone, and why victims of abuse never come forward. It’s no wonder why women are silenced in the workplace, where men take the spotlight every single time. It’s no wonder why little girls become subjects of torment by little boys. We let the system persist, but it’s high time we begin dismantling it. There’s so much more to modern sexism, and in various parts of the world, women are murdered, beaten, and mutilated.