So today is blog against sexism day. It's also International Women's Day. Miz Bohemia has posted to that particular effect better than is whithin my prowess.
This post, to be clear, is hardly exhaustive. I've picked a theme and run with it, though I can't claim to have exhausted the theme either as I'm sure that there is a book in it. For more on the subject... well, Alice has posted a noble offering
I think that a lot in regards to sexism when it comes to its underlying prevalence can be discovered through examination of words. And I don't mean words like "woman" and "history," both of which have at times been modified to "womyn" and "herstory" by a wing of the feminist movement that never bothered to look up the etymologies of said words. And the words that have to do with professions are more or less innocuous, innacurate as they are now. As is often, the real deal is a lot more unsavory. Take, for example, the word hysteria is derived from the root word hyster, which means womb. It was so named because it was originally believed to be caused by the uterus. No lie. (note: thanks to Vesper for setting me straight on this one)
Speaking of medical terms. Very recently, the term hypersexuality came into prevalence in the field of medicine, to replace two other terms. The terms were nymphomainia (in the case of its existance in women) and satyriasis (in men). Nothing inherently sexist in the words themselves.
How often do you hear the word satyriasis uttered? Generally, you don't. Personally, I didn't know the word existed since I saw the Big Lebowski, and I've yet to hear it said anywhere else. There's a clear message there, not that it should come as much of a shock to anyone. As far as the public consciousness goes, hypersexuality is only a disorder when it's present in women.
There is, as is well known, another word pertinent when it comes to that particular double-standard, and the word is slut. I don't need to rehash the particular issue with that word save to say that there really isn't a male counterpart to it. Personally I apply it regardless of gender (mostly in reference to men actually but that's more because I personally know more male sluts than female ones), and hardly ever in the pejoritave. Of course, that raises certain communication issues at times, but I digress.
Two more words: misogyny and misandrony. They refer, respectively, to contempt for (or indeed hatred of) women and men. Both are alive and kicking in modern culture. And yet the first time I've ever heard of the word misandrony was when Alice made a note of Blog Against Sexism Day. And I tend to make a point of knowing words. I love words. My guess is? Misandrony is, quite simply, seen as more acceptable. And I'm not even talking about misandrony as a direct response to misogyny, which is totally understandable. Look at the modern sitcom. How many guys in them aren't total dumbasses? Of course, there is no question as to which force is more of a problem (hell, there are even two categories of it in pop music: the "bitch/'ho" form present in hip-hop, and the "all women ever do is cause me pain" version in emo) . But as a rule I try to make mention of the elephant in the room.
Ok, I lied. There's another word I'm going to analyze, though not in the same way. The word is Feminism. The rub here is in how people react to it. Let's start with Pat Robertson:
The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.
The scary thing is he said this speaking at the 1992 Republican National Convention. While Robertson's reaction is hardly typical, backlash against feminism is decidedly mainstream, and it exists in two forms: oppressive and ridicule, The former which Pat Robertson embraces I don't think requires any further explaination. It's rotten, pure and simple. The latter is typified by this joke:
How many feminists does it take to change a lightbulb
Only one and there's nothing funny about it
The ridicule backlash is the perception of all feminists as being (among other things) humorless, anti-sex, and in the most extreme cases, sexist in their own right. To be fair? It's true of an entrenched minority within the feminist movement. But, sadly, it also in many circles exists as the very thing that the word "feminist" evokes. I can't pretend to have a solution here.
Incedently, here's another word I'm just now (like I literally just saw it) discovering. Masculism. Not an opposition to Feminism, as one might expect, but rather a parallel progressive movement aiming to redefine masculinity in an age of changing and blurring gender roles. I could read into its lack of coverage, but I believe I'll let it speak for itself. I encourage you to follow the link. Did I ever mention I love wikipedia?
So yeah. Sexim is everywhere. Many forms, many layers, many directions. Just say no.
To sexism that is.