I am always surprised when I hear people ask whether women can be sexist; especially as we all live in the age of the internet when nearly all people can be exposed to all things. But surprisingly, there are some people who still remain “unconscious” to the general negative and sexist stereotypes that are held by society, and often perpetuated by women – especially feminists – towards men.
For anyone who still poses this as a real question; let me enlighten you.
People Ignore When Women are Sexist
If you happened to watch the BAFTA’s award ceremony this year, or saw any of the coverage online; you may have noticed that the host Rebel Wilson’s “controversial jokes” got some attention. I was genuinely shocked by her entire hosting performance, which involved the most blatant display of a woman being sexist towards men that I have ever witnessed. At one point Ms. Wilson even joked that she wanted to “have a go” on Tom Hiddleston.
Piers Morgan, the famous journalist tweeted while watching the show:
“Great to see Rebel Wilson cracking all the jokes that would get a man abused, shamed and cancelled if he cracked them”
I literally stared at my TV screen in disbelief; I could not believe what I was seeing. Can you imagine a male presenter standing on stage at the BAFTA’s joking about “having a go” on another female actress?! He would have been roasted alive, accused of sexism, discrimination, misogyny, toxic masculinity, and most likely have lost his job. Yet, somehow, it was deemed acceptable for Rebel Wilson to make sexist remarks against men on a public stage on national TV!?
Even worse, we were expected to applaud this!? I mean, really, in 2022, we must do better. Society needs to become more conscious to how unconscious inequality and sexism faced by men really is; from women.
Sexism Toward Men Is Tolerated
On top of this remark, Rebel Wilson also proceeded to hand out her old bras which had been spray painted gold as “prizes” to men in the audience. And in addition to this, when speaking to Leonardo Di Caprio, Ms Wilson stated “we all know you like them young anyway”.
Is it just me or am I missing something here? It’s almost laughable, that in 2022 a female comedian was allowed to make such an awful display of sexism towards men in such a public way. Furthermore, the fact that these jokes would have been reviewed by producers and Rebel’s own team, yet, clearly everyone thought that this was “ok” enough to present to audiences around the world.
Well, the fact that this script was approved and allowed to be performed in the first place indicates a much bigger problem. It tells us that while men being sexist towards women is not tolerated; that women being sexist towards men is not only tolerated, but it’s deemed socially acceptable. So much so that we have famous women being paid to make sexist jokes live on TV at men’s expense. And this is why the question “are women sexist towards men” is a stupid question.
Female Sexism Toward Men Is Systemic
Unfortunately, women are sexist towards men, and it appears to be a systemic trend within society.
If you want to get an insight into current societal trends, values and even unconscious bias; believe it or not, Disney movies hold a lot of answers.
Recently, there has been a common theme within children’s Disney movies where the girl character breaks the rules, and goes against the traditional roles expected of her. She is then celebrated and supported for doing so.
For example, the Disney movie, Brave, is about a Scottish princess who instead of staying in the castle and behaving like a “Lady”, much to the dismay of her family and community, wants to go out hunting with her bow and arrow. The general gist of the story is that, even though she is a girl she does not want to wear princess dresses, look pretty and bake cakes in the castle. No, she wants to partake in what are considered to be more male activities, such as hunting and fishing.
This causes the princess much conflict and criticism, but she is eventually accepted and celebrated for being who she really is, and for not conforming to traditional stereotypes.
The Disney movie Frozen also has a similar storyline and the famous song “Let it Go” is about the princesses struggle to live her life as she deems fit; again, not conforming to the traditional expectations of her family or society. Similarly, to Brave; Elsa, the princess in Frozen, eventually breaks free from these stereotypical expectations and is celebrated with singing and dancing for doing so.
But what do Disney movies have to do with women being sexist? Bear with me.
While I think that it’s great that Disney movies are reflecting societies increased understanding and equality towards womens’ roles; and furthermore that they are also helping to socialize an entire generation of girls and boys around this equality; I do think that the same level of equality and representation needs to be afforded to men.
Time to Let Go of Traditional Expectations of Men
If society can let go of the traditional expectations of what a woman should be and do; then it also needs to let go of the traditional expectations of what men should be and do.
Unfortunately, a lot of women still hold sexist views and opinions towards men. For example, it’s still very common for women to expect a man to pay for more things, to be the “breadwinner”, to be able to do DIY, or to be responsible for manual labor.
But the fact is that most women are unaware of how sexist these assumptions and expectations of men are. In fact, the equivalent is literally a man expecting women to stay at home, doing the cooking and cleaning. However, it seems that while society has got very good at highlighting and lambasting men for holding sexist views and expectations of women; that it is very bad at holding women to account for doing the same.
The fact is that unfortunately women are still sexist towards men. And what’s worse is that it’s deemed as socially acceptable by society. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have blatant displays of it in mainstream media.
Rebels Wilson’s BAFTA performance can only be described as toxic femininity, and society needs to start balancing the scales of equality. Sexism from women towards men needs to be acknowledged and called out as wrong, just as male sexism towards women is.
We Need to Value Men More
Massive changes in how men are treated, seen and valued are needed. If women have escaped the oppression of society’s traditional expectations; then men deserve to also. The sexist views that men should be breadwinners and do manual labor whether inside or outside the home, are unfair. Men should be able to live however they wish, without judgement. If men want to stay at home and raise their children, this should be equally supported in the same way that women are who want to have non-traditional careers.
Society can’t fight for the equality of only one gender. Equality means equal treatment and fairness for all; the clue is in the name.
Men deserve to be treated with the same decency and respect as women. But, in order to stop sexism towards men, society needs to make systemic changes in attitudes. For this to occur, a new message needs to be communicated to younger generations. Girls and boys need to be socialized against the negative, traditional stereotypes that are projected onto men; and instead shown equality and respect across all gender roles.
So maybe it’s time that we started seeing positive changes like these also reflected in Disney movies, with male characters being supported to rebel against the traditional expectations of masculinity.