These 48 comments to women and girls show that sexism knows no age.
A new video from Huffington Post shows how pervasive and lifelong sexism is for women.
It covers everything from “you look so pretty” to “you must have been beautiful when you were younger,” to show that whether you’re 8 or 80, if you’re a woman, you just can’t escape sexist comments.
In two minutes, the video shows the progression of what women hear from society as we age. Apparently, the only thing that doesn’t change as we get older is how stereotypical, patronizing, and demeaning these comments are.
Here are some “highlights” from the video that will have women young and old shaking their heads in recognition.
As a young girl, you’re already being evaluated for your sexual appeal later on.
Not only do girls start hearing comments about their appeal to (and effect on) boys and men at an absurdly young age, but these comments also imply that a young girl’s sexuality is the domain of her dad and, later, of other men in her life.
The video shows how these comments progress as girls get older: “Don’t wait after school, you’re going to distract the boys,” which becomes, “Don’t be a slut,” which becomes, “No guy wants to have sex with a virgin,” which becomes, “How much did you have to drink that night?” and finally, “What were you wearing that night?”
This is rape culture in a nutshell.
As a teenage girl, people assume your interests based on how appealing they are to prospective (male) partners.
Young girls may start out thinking they can excel at or be interested in anything: math, music, sports, art, video games, you name it. As girls get older, though, they’re often discouraged from taking part in stereotypically masculine interests.
It’s not necessarily that woman and girls are told this outright. Most people aren’t that direct; they aren’t going to say: “Don’t play video games. Video games are for boys.” They discourage those behaviors in more subtle ways by expressing surprise that a woman or girl likes a stereotypically masculine thing like whiskey or football (two other examples in the video) and then imply they must only be interested in it because it is appealing to boys or men.
As though women can’t just like things because we like them.
Apparently, men dictate not only women’s sexuality, but also our interests and hobbies. Assuming that to be true … why, that’s sexism, my friend.
As adult women, we’re told not to draw too much attention to ourselves. In a rather crude way.
This is a heartbreaking bookend to the first girl who appears in the video saying, “Don’t be so bossy!” a common refrain girls hear growing up.
Women are taught at a young age not to be assertive, not to lead, and to let others take the lead, which is why so many women say sorry so much and don’t feel confident negotiating for equal pay at work.
Even prominent feminists like Sheryl Sandberg, in trying to promote women in leadership positions, inadvertently stigmatize a “bossy” woman.
As married women, we hear assumptions about the role we play in our relationship.
At this point, the video starts getting into tired debates about gender roles between husband and wife, with judgmental questions like “You’re not taking your husband’s last name?” to “Does your husband mind that you make more money than him?”
And if your husband, the person who is ostensibly equal to you in your relationship, does something stereotypically feminine like cooking dinner, you just know you’re going to get this in response:
Because of sexism, society is still surprised to learn that, in heterosexual relationships, women CAN be the primary breadwinner, and that men can share in domestic chores. It’s 2015, but many women still face questions about their relationships that are right out of the 1950s.
And these assumptions hurt both women and men.
As an elderly woman, you’re way more likely to hear that you were beautiful than that you still are.
More than women’s intelligence, humor, empathy, or any other non-superficial qualities or accomplishments we have, at the end of our lives, we’re still valued for our looks. When (or if) our looks “fade with age,” we receive pity.
Most heartbreaking of all is when you compare what an elderly woman hears to what young girls are told so often:
We’ve come full circle, haven’t we?
That’s sexism. It’s pervasive, it’s subtle. We often don’t realize we’re reinforcing these behaviors. But now that we know and can see them laid out like this, don’t you think it’s time we break the pattern?