Friday, May 23, 2008

I went away, but sexism didn't!

So, I took a “hiatus,” which I never intended to turn into a hiatus – then I remembered the other day that I used to have this blog thing that I would post to religiously, even if no one read it except a few interested friends, but I would keep up with it in hopes of it being discovered by literate people across the country, who would visit it daily and thoroughly enjoy my ideas and writing style…

Yeah, I was referring to this blog.

Anyway, I hope that I will never abandon you again, R4R, and will no longer put off sharing my thoughts, ideas and pet peeves with all 3 of my lovely readers…

Ha :)

Well, what better way to get my ass kicked back into gear than to hear that – golly, gee – sexism is alive and well!

Campbell Leaper (professor of psychology at UC Santa Cruz) and Christia Spears Brown (assistant professor of psychology at the University of Kentucky) conducted a study of 600 girls, ages 12-18 from California and Georgia. The results: 90% of girls today experience sexual harassment and sexism. Nine out of ten!!! And we should shut up about feminism ‘cause we’ve come so far…


"Sexual harassment included receiving inappropriate and unwanted romantic attention, hearing demeaning gender-related comments, being teased about their appearance, receiving unwanted physical contact, and being teased, bullied, or threatened with harm by a male. "Our findings on sexual harassment are, sadly, consistent with previous research," said Leaper. "But on the other hand, most girls said they'd experienced sexual harassment at least once, as opposed to several times."

Leaper and Brown were curious to learn what environmental factors attributed to how a female recognizes sexism (if at all). Their study showed that girls who were familiar with feminism were more likely to identify sexism than girls who were not. In addition, girls who felt pressure to conform to traditional femininity (whether from parents, teachers, coaches or peers) were also more likely to recognize sexism.

Leaper relates this correlation to society’s awareness of racism – acknowledging its existence shows one’s disapproval. "In order to recognize sexism," she said. "You probably have to believe it's wrong."

But Leaper points out that being aware of sexism doesn't predispose girls to over-report it.

"We know from previous studies that people tend to under-report discrimination," said Leaper. "After Anita Hill, reports of sexual harassment increased dramatically in the United States, because it gave people a label for their experience. So, if anything, sexism is probably occurring more than the girls in this study are saying it is."

The scariest part of this news is being reminded that many people out there still don’t believe sexism exists, and that it’s perfectly normal to demand men and women adhere to traditional gender roles – and those who resist should be punished. "Doing Gender" has become so normalized, it’s difficult for people to re-train their thinking – even when they’re aware of sexism, homophobia, etc. It’s the little slips that send a wave of embarrassment once they’re uttered. "Did I just say that?!"

A friend of mine teaches women’s studies and history at our alma mater, and thoroughly enjoys being part of students’ discovery of how women’s roles have changed (and yet not) through time. She tells me with excitement how the undergrads seem to "get it" – they can see how certain behavior is degrading, and its purpose should be questioned – but then someone will call a woman a bitch or a whore for no good reason – just that they got nothin’ else to work with…

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hi, I am a student at the university of oregon, my name is natalie, and I am listening.