Anyone whose been a feminist for oooohhh say five minutes or longer has at some point gotten the "you're looking for sexism everywhere!" speech. I got that one the other day, along with the whole "don't be a victim" line.
I wish that I was making up the sexism. I wish that this was some form of paranoid delusion that the world is out to get me (and every other woman on the planet). Oh if only I was a hypochondriac . Then there would be a cure. I could fix this whole problem by myself, or at least with the help of a good doctor.
But sexism is everywhere, in everything. It starts as soon as we know what the sex of a child is going to be when we pick their names and the colors of their clothes. And it never stops.
One half of the population is taught from the beginning to fear the other half. Not all of them. But we are taught that our behavior can drive males into a violent fury. We check ourselves. How we dress, how we act, where we go, what we do. None of this ever actually prevents us from being raped or hurt, but if we behave in a completely virtuous manner, then perhaps if/when we are raped or hurt we will not be blamed for it.
We are taught to fear strange men in dark bushes. But we aren't told that it's more likely someone we know, even someone we love, will be the person who hurts us.
And then there are all the little papercut like wounds the world inflicts on women. The daily street harassment. The parents and teachers and bosses who treat as as less than and force us into roles we wouldn't normally accept. The media that is always telling us that we are not good enough as we are. We must be thinner, whiter, prettier, meeker. A lady in the streets and a freak in the sheets. But not too freaky. Cause then you're a slut.
And when things go bad, they go bad for us first and stay bad for us longer. The economy crashes and women's jobs are the first to get cut. We never made as much as men anyways. When people are struggling economically, violence increases. And violence begins at home.
When I left the Kid's dad, after he had tried to strangle me in a parking lot, I went to a domestic violence support group for a while. There is a phrase that they used, "Once you see it, you can't unsee it". They were talking about the abusive patterns and behaviors.
But it applies to sexism too. I could try to pretend it doesn't exist, but my being ignorant of it, because I am female, doesn't mean it won't affect me. I can pretend that cat callers are really just complimenting me, or that my only real skills are filing and typing and mommying and cooking. Or that the real reason my life sucks is cause I haven't found the "right man" to come sweep me off my feet.
Actually, I did try to prentend not so long ago. I was tired of the constant struggle. Along came a very handsome, very wealthy, very charming guy. Who wanted a trophy wife. I tried to pretend that it wouldn't bother me to be someone's well kept pet, that giving up power over my own life would be a good thing since I've so obviously screwed up while trying to wield that power myself. We got snowed in together one weekend. I spent the weekend cooking and fucking. And I saw what daily life with him would be. Cooking, fucking, cleaning, babies. Over and over. No partnership. No give and take. I was going to be smothered. I would never have to worry about money again, but I would also never be treated as anything more than a servant. Maid, cook, whore, incubator. I wouldn't even get the fake power brides get in having my dream wedding (to elope in Rome or Venice with no one around but us). He said it would HAVE to be a big traditional wedding with all his gazillions of relatives. I cringed at the thought of being the center of all that patriarchal madness, dressed up like a giant cotton ball of virginal whiteness and marched down an aisle to indentured servitude.
Once you've seen it, you can't unsee it.
Needless to say, that ended. I couldn't pretend it didn't exist.
I see sexism everywhere because sexism is everywhere. I don't need to go looking for it. I'm a girl, it finds me whether I want it too or not.
And I am not a constant victim. I am fighter. A warrior queen in the battle against the patriarchy. My weapons are words and facts and thoughts.