The View from Venus: How I Know Sexism Exists

Published on February 27, 2012 at 8:35 pm

By ANDI BOYHAN
Women’s Initiative
csrwomensinitiative@gmail.com

Some people my not think sexism is a problem in their lives.  We all know that women are still getting paid less than men, and we have had discussions about how show-business likes to depict women, but it really goes much deeper than that.  Sexism is all around us – in our school, in the streets, and even within our groups of friends.  Some people just do not notice it, but once you start looking you realize it is everywhere.  Over this past semester, I have noticed more and more how the fact that I am a woman changes how I am treated, and how people perceive me.  Here are five ways sexism has affected my daily life, and I am sure it will soon seem all too familiar.

1. What does your father do?  When riding the CDTA, you are bound to strike up a conversation every now and then with a stranger.  One rainy morning, I happened to sit next to an old businessman who decided he wanted to talk to me.  Fine, nothing wrong with a friendly chat, right?  So first he asks me if I am a student, to which I obviously reply ‘yes’.  And what is his next question? ‘What does your father do?’ What does my father do?  WHAT DOES MY FATHER DO!?  What does that have to do with anything?  How does his occupation effect this conversation?  And how do you know my father does anything?  How do you know my mother is not the one bringing home the bacon, and that my father does not fry it up in a pan?  If you are asking about me, ask about ME.  I am not my father, and what he does has little to no effect on me.  Of course I did not say this; instead I politely replied ‘Oh, he does something with computers. I’m not really sure.’  But the question really irked me, and I actually have not been able to stop thinking about it since.  I just do not see why he asked me that and why he would assume my father even did anything.

2. Will you give me a hand?  It is no secret that Saint Rose has a lot of ladies.  In fact, it is about 60% female.  I do not know about the art department specifically, but I think that three is about the average amount of males in my art classes.  Now, not all of these males are exactly ‘buff’, and do not get me wrong, not all of the girls are super muscular either, but I definitely would not say that all of the guys are stronger than all of the girls.  And yet, whenever there is something that needs to be moved, or if a shipment comes in, who do you think gets asked to help out?  I may not necessarily WANT to participate in manual labor during class, but I am certainly just as capable and so are most of the other females in the room.  Just because someone is male does not mean they are any better at picking up a bag of clay or pushing a chalkboard.  If I were one of the guys being constantly asked to move this or carry that, I would not be pleased, and as a female I am personally insulted that I am not considered just as qualified to do these mundane tasks that only require a slight amount of energy.  I mean really, do you think my female arms are so fragile they cannot pick something up?  Or maybe you think I am going to trip on my skirt?  Or will not be able to see with all of my beautiful, flowing hair in the way?  I am NOT going to break a nail nor am I going to hurt myself.  ASK ME FOR HELP!