Updated: May 24
Subtle sexism isn't talked about enough.
Subtle sexism is when your male co-workers routinely interrupt you, but not each other. When your boss expects you to do "office housework" unrelated to your actual position, such as fetching the coffee or planning company parties. Or when any man feels the need to over-explain to you a simple task that makes you feel as though he is talking to a 5-year-old.
"Subtle sexism may be a man over-explaining to you a simple task... making you feel as though he is talking to a 5-year-old."
How women are treated in the workplace sets the stage for how they are treated in every day life. Perhaps providing more women with managerial positions or instilling an equal pay policy, takes care of the overt sexism that occurs in the workplace. But what about telling a woman to smile because she would look so pretty ? Or talking about female employees in graphic sexual terms in the break room? These subtle types of comments and behaviors, ultimately "put women in their place". As long as women are being treated like sex objects in the workplace, they can be treated like sex objects in the world. And on some deep, psychological level that perhaps even men themselves can't understand, this makes them feel comfortable. Because this secures their position of power.
"As long as women are being treated like sex objects in the workplace, they can be treated like sex objects in the world."
It is time we stop tolerating uncomfortable situations at the hands of men, for the sake of their comfort levels. Let them get uncomfortable. It is a natural and necessary part of their journey in the development of personal growth.
The trick to spotting subtle sexism is simple. Just ask yourself, would he be saying this to me right now if I were a man? If the answer is No, then say it. Tell him word for word, "You know you wouldn't be saying that to me right now if I were a man." Then watch his reaction. Chances are, he'll be taken off guard and feel slightly embarrassed for his actions.
We need to help men understand that subtle sexism is more than just a quick and easy way for them to boost their own ego. It is a sign of major insecurity. Men who treat women like objects or belittle our existence in any way, are deeply insecure with themselves. And they know it. But it's up to us to point that out.