Am I getting old(er) to the extent that I simply cannot fathom the sentiments expressed in this article?
I have been working at University for over two decades. I have seen all manner of extremism, exhibitionism, sexism, racism … you name it, I’ve seen it. One expects this at a University where there is (or at least there ought to be) a license for free thought, wrapped up in a veritable cornucopia of wildly differing personalities amongst both the student and staff body.
Nonetheless, this quote floored me:
Men were also continuously and unnecessarily sexist, waiting for me to walk through doors and leave the elevator before them.”
I looked up the term sexism to refresh my understanding, and found:
1. Discrimination based on gender, especially discrimination against women.
2. Attitudes, conditions, or behaviors that promote stereotyping of social roles based on gender.
I think there are three key terms here:
Now, discrimination on its own isn’t a pejorative term. It connotes difference. I’d argue that if the difference leads to an act or comment which implies that women are promoted as inferior in any way, then it is wrong. In this instance, surely an act of chivalry or good manners need not be interpreted as an expression of inferiority, weakness or the like?
I understand that stereotyping is a dangerous weapon in the mouth of someone consciously or subconsciously motivated to demean, demote or demography the “role” of a woman in society. Again, I have difficulty understanding how a gesture which could also be understood as consciously or subconsciously honouring and elevating the stature of the feminine gender, should solely be interpreted as an act of sexism.
I’m unconvinced why such an act need also be interpreted as ascribing an inferior feminine position.
Of course, I wasn’t there. It’s possible that she was sufficiently riled by other incidents to the extent that she had become over-sensitised by her feminine identity.
If a man (or woman) suggested that an older person enter or leave a lift first, or opened the door for that older person, would this also be seen as ageism?
Students commonly suggest I enter a lift first, or wait for me to leave a door. My response is either to say “thank you” or “please, there is no need, after you”.
Surely a better approach than to criticise this type of “etiquette” is to say
“Thanks, but there is no need. I’m quite comfortable not being treated differently to males.