All It Takes Is One Sexist Jerk To Set Everyone Back A Few Years

Illustration for article titled All It Takes Is One Sexist Jerk To Set Everyone Back A Few Years

A new study provides scientific evidence for what many may have long suspected: an individual person's sexist beliefs can actually influence society as a whole. Well, crap.

According to ScienceDaily, researchers asked people in 57 different countries whether they agreed with two statements: "On the whole, men make better political leaders than women do" and "On the whole, men make better business executives than women do." At the same time, they measured gender equality (according to UN standards) in those countries. Then, two years later, they measured gender equality again. They found that countries with high levels of individual sexist beliefs experienced a decrease in gender equality over time. The study authors write,

Multilevel modeling showed that sexism directly predicted increases in gender inequality. This study provides the first evidence that sexist ideologies can create gender inequality within societies, and this finding suggests that sexism not only legitimizes the societal status quo, but also actively enhances the severity of the gender hierarchy.

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It's not so surprising that the beliefs of people within a society could change that society's norms — especially since previous research has shown the dangers of even so-called "benevolent sexism." But study author Mark Brandt points out that some have downplayed this effect: "You could get the impression that having sexist beliefs, or prejudiced beliefs more generally, is just an individual thing — 'my beliefs don't impact you.'" But his team's findings suggest that's not the case. They also hint at one way sexism may grow in a culture: not suddenly, by law or dictate, but insidiously, person by person, so that at first, no one may notice it's happening. This is scary, but it's also potentially hopeful — if individuals can change gender equality for the worse, maybe they can also change it for the better. I'd like to see a study examining the opposite of Brandt's finding — whether egalitarian beliefs predict growing equality over time. If they do, it would be the best scientific evidence yet that the personal really is the political.

Sexism And Gender Inequality [ScienceDaily]

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DISCUSSION

ladyswallow
atomic confetti

We should do some kind of mass project where everyone in the Feminist blogging community goes out of their way to argue with a misogynist.

-Just find someone who is saying sexist shit and call them out.

-It can be anything from rape jokes to comments about a woman's body.

-Explain why what they said actually really does hurt women* (and therefore, everyone)

-Don't get mad or try to tear them down, just explain and leave it at that

-Most people are going to change their minds later, after an argument. So don't expect immediate success.

-Make your arguments free of our favorite one liners.**

*For instance, you could argue that commenting about a woman's body makes the other girls around you worry about their own bodies, creating an environment unsafe for people with eating disorders. Also, by perpetuating the idea that frail = how a woman should be creates an image where women are supposed to be small and weak. Women being "weak" because men are "stronger" is a justification used by people prone to domestic violence.

**Saying something slightly hyperbolic or sarcastic like "Yeah, my ickle ladybrain just obviously can't handle deciding when to have a child" makes sense here because we understand the implications of someone being anti-choice. We understand that it's a violation of a woman's bodily rights and that by saying abortion should be illegal, you are also promoting the idea that women need to be controlled. We can see that, but an anti-choice person can't. So it's better to say away from the normally effective hyperbole in some situations, because wat we want to do is draw clear connections to how certain beliefs and cultural attitude actually make our society a dangerous place for women.

So we want to show them, "You say she shouldn't have been dressed like that, but why? That's not encouraging a rapist alone. Rapists are very particular about how they attack and when. If one in particular did chose victims based on revealing attire, it would be because of cultural attitudes that look down upon women who are out and about, maybe showing some skin or maybe just looking pretty, making ti harder for them to get a conviction. It's also very misleading considering this particular girl's case was rare: Most rape victims are attacked by someone they know. It's safer for women to be walking the streets than walking into her front door, according to true statistic. By spreading misinformation like that, you are helping shift blame to the victims of such attacks, and also helping create confusion of who is actually attacking women: our friends, boyfriends, husbands, fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins. I know you may think you are offering some solid advice to women to protect them, but it's actually quite dangerous."

It's very important to show people the connection between what they said and violence against women, because a lot of sexists actually think they're protecting women and don't even think they're sexist!

Like I said, if someone is going to change their mind about Feminism, it's probably not going to be when you are talking to each other. It will probably be later when they are recounting the conversation and thinking about what they said and what you said.

Bonus: People in the vicinity of the conversation who may be apathetic or uninterested in gender politics may change their mind after hearing your side of things.

More advice for calling people out:

[www.illdoctrine.com]

tl;dr: Let's all mindfuck some asshole misogynist today.