Dear Male Relative,
I’m tired of correcting you when you say that men and women already have equal rights. It’s a little shocking to me that you can even believe this. At least, it was the first few hundred times you said it.
The number of appallingly sexist comments that Donald Trump has made in the past few months outnumbers the Greenland’s total population. What’s even more appalling is that there are still people who support him. That means hundreds of thousands of Americans are ready to excuse misogyny in their future President. How can you go on calling it the Land of the Free if half if its citizens are persecuted for the way they were born?
Hillary Clinton is no flawless candidate. Yet instead of criticizing her real mistakes, she’s criticized on the basis of her appearance, her dressing, her voice, whether she smiles too little or too much, and say that she’s “too cold.” “Cold” is what you become when people attack you no matter what you do, when how you look matters more to people than what you say.
Female Olympians are routinely targets of sexism. Hungarian swimmer Katina Hosszu won a gold medal, and the camera panned to her husband and coach. The commentator said, “That’s the man responsible.” The man responsible, because a woman’s achievements can in no way be her own, right? This is far from the only instance of sexism at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Female sports writers are savagely attacked online– and it’s not just the sports writers, either. Every single woman who chooses to put herself on a social media platform has experienced sexism on the Internet. Don’t even get me started about lack of equal pay.
It’s not just the news. Look around you. There’s a billboard advertising the release of a movie. Notice how the male characters far outnumber the female ones. Notice how the male actors are of different ages, sometimes even different ethnicities, while the female ones are both young, generally white, and perfect-looking. There is no such bar for the male actors, because it doesn’t matter what they look like, or how old they are.
Women in movies wear far less clothing than men. Why put in a female character at all if you can’t justify her presence, right Hollywood? All characters are male by default, anyway.
Everything is different if you’re a woman. People judge you by harsher standards. Surprised? You do it, too, every day, when you call a girl “bossy” for taking charge, yet call yourself “a good leader” when you do the same.
Notice how these are all examples of things that occur everyday in the United States of America, a developed country. Sexism is not just in “Saudi Arabia and all those Middle Eastern countries”.
I have to ask: How can you turn a blind eye to half the world’s population being treated unfairly? Do you feel protected knowing that you, as a male, will never be subject to the same treatment?
Maybe this is news to you, but gender roles affect men, too. Men are taught to fit impossibly rigid standards of masculinity. Men who don’t show emotions, who never cry, or lose it are not men. They’re rocks. Do we really want to teach our young men and boys to aspire for that?
When you say that sexism doesn’t exist, you’re denying the subjugation of billions of women across the planet. Saying sexism doesn’t exist is like a white person saying racism doesn’t exist. Just because you don’t encounter it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. When you say “men and women already have equal rights”, you’re choosing to believe a blatant falsehood, and turn a blind eye to injustice. Not only that, you’re calling everyone who ever called out sexism a liar, because according to you, it doesn’t exist.
I’d like to believe that your moral fiber isn’t as corroded as that statement indicates, and attribute it to your ignorance. You are, after all, my blood relation, which makes it even harder to accept. I can’t change you, but I can hope.
As Sohaila Abdullali would say, mind the gap.