As the movement of feminism becomes increasingly accepted and well-known, many people believe that sexism is no longer a pressing problem. However, for this grand misconception to exist, its believers must be hiding in a deep, dark cave somewhere far, far away from civilization because sexism is everywhere. It is in the media, it is in the workplace, and it is in our political system (as exemplified by our most recent presidential election). We can claim as much as we want that because women can do basic things like “vote” and “get a job,” sexism no longer exists. But in reality, this unacceptable and prehistoric mindset on sexism still exists, alive and well, to this day.
Out of the numerous instances where sexism permeates women’s daily lives, objectification is perhaps the most demeaning and, unfortunately, the most common. Being seen only as an object whose existence is exclusively for the pleasure of another has a particular way of ruining your day.
Speaking of which, my day is often ruined by the words of Donald Trump, one of the world’s most publicly sexist people of our time, and, to my disgust, the next President of the United States. Mr. Trump has said many an offensive thing about women, my personal favorite being when he could not come up with a proper response to a question during a GOP debate, so he blamed the female journalist’s “face” for her difficult question. Was this a presidential debate or a third-grade classroom? It was difficult to tell. Regardless of Trump’s political tactics, his words toward women are unacceptable to say the least.
Even worse than his words, however, is the blatant ignorance behind them that perpetuates the norm of treating women badly. When a famous person like Trump says something, the world listens whether we like it or not. The world listens when he says something incoherent about politics, the world listens when he talks about his billions of dollars, and the world listens when he perpetuates rape culture like he is just talking about the weather. This type of toxic dialogue is what keeps women from feeling safe walking to work or riding the subway home alone. When Trump talks about how he cannot stop kissing women and he “[doesn’t] even wait” for permission, playing it off simply as “locker-room banter,” it confirms for men that treating women like objects is the status quo. Perhaps even worse is that it ingrains an idea into the psyche of young women that tells them that this is the way they should be treated, like this is right. Well, it’s not right, and it’s not fair. Why do men continue to teach this sexist way of life to their children? Why is it allowed all over the media? Why was a presidential candidate not disqualified for saying unacceptably explicit and derogatory things about half of the world’s population? It sure beats me, but it might be because the men who say these things legitimately do not think they are saying or doing anything wrong. But maybe I just believe this because I am a woman and I have a small brain. This possibility brings us all the way back around to a big word at the root of it all: the patriarchy.
Ah, the patriarchy, my favorite. Fueled by testosterone and a lack of credibility, the patriarchy has managed to rule the world for the vast majority of history. Male dinosaurs probably saw themselves as superior to female dinosaurs with this world’s track record. But just because the patriarchy dates back to what seems like the Big Bang, it does not mean that it should still be in existence today. Some things, like Crocs and convertible pants, just go out of style.The patriarchy should be at the top of that list. But is it?
Thankfully, we have feminists hard at work trying to close the wage gap, make their way into influential political positions, and enlighten ignorant people of the basic fact that the patriarchy is not something to be perpetuated, but is, now more than ever, something to be smashed.