Valhalla High School

Opinion: Sexism and the growing gender divide

Women are no stranger to oppression. Be it via the workplace or within the family, there is no question sexism has played a major role in the shaping of women’s history.

But sexism is not limited to one gender or the other, its spectrum is broad and far-reaching, seeing as either gender has found themselves categorized under social constructs which create expectations that either end might deem offensive or unattainable. In so many words, pressuring anyone to be someone who they are not is indefensible.

That being said, sex is a defining factor in how we relate to those around us. What does not make sense, however, is our tendency to pit ourselves against one another. Too often, we build each other up, just to break the other down, and too often, we are our own downfalls.

Women’s rights have definitely progressed, but the fight is far from over. We have yet to see the balance between full-time working women who still earn just 78 cents to a man’s dollar. It is still seen as tradition for the woman to change her last name according to her spouse’s. A woman is always expected to be mindful of every action she makes, so as not to attract unwanted attention from potential predators.

Many aspects of womanhood are disadvantages that derive merely from being a female where males are still, in some cases, considered dominant in both mind and body. Yashar Ali from the Huffington Post theorized that women undergo “emotional manipulation that feeds an epidemic in our country, an epidemic that defines women as crazy, irrational, overly sensitive, unhinged.” But where biology remains unchanged, the mind can be re-taught to treat both men and women with equal respect. That is where activism on behalf of women’s rights should begin to play a role.

Of course, every group has extremists that act according to their own agendas. And, in the world of feminism, those extremists are commonly referred to as feminazis—a term popularized in the 1990s by radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh’s book “The Way Things Ought to Be.”

Limbaugh basically belittles the very establishment of feminism, explaining that he “…prefer[s] to call the most obnoxious feminists what they really are: feminazis. Tom Hazlett, a good friend [of his] who is an esteemed and highly regarded professor of economics at the University of California at Davis, coined the term to describe any female who is intolerant of any point of view that challenges militant feminism.”

Comparing feminism (a movement directed towards equality for both genders) to something synonymous with genocidal soldiers responsible for the deaths of thousands, compromises the entirety of the movement as a result of actions made by atypical members advocating for female supremacy. Therein, the name that is supposed to back the cause is invalidated.

But where there is misogyny, there is misandry.

Generally viewed as illegitimate, sexism against men is a reality. Maybe not as prevalent as discrimination among women, but a reality nonetheless.

From domestic abuse to custody battles, men are undeniably unequal in regards to legal disputes involving women. According to Noah Berlatsky in The Atlantic, “…men as men are disadvantaged. Men, for example, receive custody of children in only about 10 percent of divorce cases in the United States.”

Because women are often recognized as the primary caregivers, and men the primary earners, custody battles usually award the mother full or joint custody while the father is left paying child support. Similarly, because statistics show that women are much more likely victims of domestic abuse than men, many claims against women are overlooked.

Considering most data supports the validity behind these kinds of outcomes, it is hard not to try and qualify the fact that several men are wrongly accused of domestic abuse and punished too swiftly for crimes not committed, or have completely lost the ability to see their own children, for the sake of the many. But the truth should always take precedence, regardless of gender.

And, like feminazis, so called meninists have emerged to promote men as the superior gender.

Though many self-proclaimed meninists tell anyone who asks that everything they say is a joke, they are joking at the expense of women everywhere. Amy Coker, columnist for The Independent Florida Alligator, defined them as a “pseudo-movement [that] is teeming with contradiction and inconsistency. In claiming to protest gender discrimination against men… [meninists] tend toward aggressive and hateful language regarding women on forums, perpetuating that which they claim to protest.”

I am all for satirical social activism, but this new wave of meninism just discredits the movement for gender equality as a whole.

Sexism is a very real presence between men and women. Neither group should demean the value of problems faced by the other, because, in doing so, our supposed common goal as a society, absolute tolerance and complete parity is undermined.