Yesterday a blog post of mine was linked to by another website. I was appreciative for the link as it continues to drive a lot of traffic to my site; however, the person who put up the link summarized the post by saying that in it the author (me) described “his” experience. It was a sloppy mistake that left me more bemused than offended. Still, it’s a subtle form of sexism to assume someone is male rather than realizing the person could just as easily be female. Without such bias one might take the time to check the author’s gender or choose to use non-gender specific language. (In fact, the site switched to a non-gender specific version of the summary after I politely noted my gender in a comment.)
Presumptive male pronouns are annoying, but sexist comments get much worse than that. The above incident occurred the day after Mitt Romney referenced the important issue of working mothers needing to get home in time to make dinner. It was a few days after Reddit exposed the identity of the prolific troll “Violentacrez” who was notorious for posting pictures of underage girls as well as for his graphic, misogynist comments.
Sexist statements are not all equally offensive, but each one contributes to a world in which women are guaranteed exposure to sexism and misogyny. All women. The young girl whose picture is posted without her consent for the amusement of anonymous perverts. The woman who does the same work as her male counterparts for significantly less pay. The Prime Minister of Australia who is offended by comments from the opposition. Yes, I said the Prime Minister of Australia.
Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the first female to hold that position, recently gave a passionate speech protesting the habitual sexism of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. The speech is a rallying cry for women everywhere. Watch it below. (Update: The previous version of the video got blocked. Hopefully this one continues to work.)