I thought we’d jump right in today, so here’s this week’s #FeministFriday Fun Fact:
There is no such thing as reverse sexism.
Reverse sexism is sexism targeted at and enacted against cis men. Or it would be if it existed. Which it doesn’t.
Reverse sexism is typically claimed by a male individual who has received a slight that directly resulted because he is a male.
Claims of reverse sexism may range from the serious to ridiculous, but regardless, reverse sexism does not exist.
I can feel a bit of anger creeping through the computer screen, so please let me explain.
Prejudices against cis males exist. Sexism against cis males does not.
Prejudices against cis men are acted upon. Sexism against cis men is not.
Still confused? Let’s look at some definitions.
Prejudice [prej–uh-dis], noun.
Origin: 1250-1300, Middle English praejudicium.
1. An unfavorable opinion or feeling formed beforehand or without knowledge, thought, or reason
2. Unreasonable feelings, opinions, or attitudes, especially of a hostile nature, regarding an ethnic, racial, social, or religious group
Sexism [sek-siz-uh m], noun.
Origin: 1965-70, sex + -ism, on the model of racism.
1. The ingrained and institutionalized prejudice against or hatred of women; misogyny
2. Discrimination or devaluation directed against women due to sex or gender
They’re similar, but the fact that sexism is institutionalized is what sets it apart from gender prejudice.
Sexism, much like any -ism, is prejudice plus power. Prejudices exist against nearly every group on the planet, but the power to make the prejudices an integrated part of society does not. Our society has been largely controlled by white cis males throughout history; therefore, the power to integrate prejudices against non-whites and non-cis-males into the fabric of society has been active for several hundred years.
Certain prejudices against cis males can be extremely harmful, but their enforcement is not a commonplace part of society. And that’s okay. This #FeministFriday isn’t a rallying cry for white cis males to suffer at the hands of society, it’s a reminder to check your privilege.
The biggest issues with claims of reverse sexism (or any other -ism), is that they’re often used as an attempt to derail conversations of progress. Efforts assisting minority populations to achieve equity can be labelled as reverse discrimination. In this case, cis-males complaining that a privilege they have is being eroded simply because it is their expectation due to their life experiences that the vast majority of attention, effort, and resources will be given to them, and anything to the contrary – towards actual equality – is cause for complaint.
So, again, check your privilege. Do you feel annoyed and left out because there are specialized social clubs, fitness facilities, scholarship funds, and other places that are for women only? Take a deep breath and remember that all of those things exist not to take anything away from men, but because there was nothing available in society for women to begin with.
Please leave any questions or comments below, and see you next week!