4 Effective Ways to Call Out Sexism

In the current media climate, where it seems like every other day allegations of sexual assault or misconduct are being reported, it is important to discuss the impact that sexism has on everyday women. Unfortunately, if you are born as a cisgendered female (or identify as female) you are probably no stranger to everyday acts of sexism. Some examples include the catcall (a triggering signal to make a face of disgust and walk away as fast as possible), being told you can’t be interested or participate in stereotypically “masculine” things such as sports or STEM based on your gender, and manspreading, which is a personal favorite of mine since I recently sat next to a guy on the bus that reached his leg so far into my personal bubble that I wish I could hop off the bus mid-ride.

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Unfortunately, acts of sexism manifest themselves in small ways to create a culture of gender inequality, making the Harvey Weinsteins of the world feel like they can get away with horrible things. Still, the most powerful and influential women in our country are subjected to sexism and at more extreme levels. Studies show that female Supreme Court justices are three times as likely to be interrupted than their male counterparts. In a debate during the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton was interrupted 25 times during the first 26 minutes of her speaking. This only proves that status and power do not exempt women from experiencing sexism, but may even make them more vulnerable.

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However, in many instances, women have proven to be more than willing to fight back. Earlier this year, Senator Elizabeth Warren was interrupted as she was reading a letter from Coretta Scott King in Senate. Being the girl boss that she is, Warren finished reading the letter on a Facebook Live stream outside of the Senate. “Nevertheless, she persisted” became a rallying call for the feminist movement and for girls everywhere to act out against sexism and misogyny in everyday encounters.

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Inspired by Senator Warren and strong women everywhere, we at HerCampus UCSB have compiled a list of helpful tips to help you participate in eradicating sexism:

1. Stick up for yourself.

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It can be pretty jarring to be faced with a sexist remark or joke; some may be compelled to not say anything and let it slide. We propose that more women should build up the courage to stand up for themselves with a simple "that isn't funny/appropriate". Or if, like in Senator Warren's case, you're subject to interruptions, you make it clear that what you have to say is important with a "I don't appreciate the interruption and I'm not finished talking". We guarantee saying something rather than not will make you feel 10x better than if you were to let it go and wish you had said something.

2. Educate others.

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Sexism in itself is perpetuated by an apathy or even an ignorance toward the power that certain words and actions have. Letting people know that sexist remarks are unacceptable and suggesting ways they can correct it will pay it forward so they won't make the same mistake. Educating others about the negative effects of sexism allows them to take what they've been told and reflect on their remarks. Hopefully they will realize we all play a part in actively creating an overall more accepting and unprejudiced world.

3. It’s okay to say no.

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Often times, women are asked questions or to do certain things because gender stereotypes seemingly compel them to say yes. Whether it be responding to a guys romantic advances or being asked to clean or get coffee. Misogynistic discourses expect is to be agreeable and go along with whatever if asked of us. Well, we say "no" to these expectations and we mean it.

 

4. See something, say something.

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Everyday sexism is given power when it goes by without being contested. Many times men and women notice sexist remarks or actions and say nothing out of fear of being judged. Calling out sexism when you see it is the number one way for power relations between genders to be made equal.