Sexism Expectations Versus Reality

How gender falsely plays into society’s roles

Photo courtesy of NPR.

Photo courtesy of NPR.

Gabrielle Brown, Staff Writer

Are men and women treated equally in America? Maybe on paper, but not in reality. The Guardian recently reported statistics from Pew Research that indicate 68 percent of women believe that there is discrimination against women in America today compared to only 41 percent of men who agree. Furthermore, in a presentation by Georgetown University’s Women’s Center what is expected of women is considered nearly unachievable in real life.

“Women are expected to be many things. They should be young enough, but not too young; old enough, but not too old; creative, but not crazy; passionate, but not angry. Women, in other words, are caught between social expectations and a much more complicated reality” (Oakes).

Laws across the country limit or ban teaching on systemic racism, sexism, gender and sexuality, and LGBTQ+ topics according to a summary of the 2023 Organization of American Historians Conference on American History.

The Stanford University Student Affairs webpage defines sexism as “discrimination or prejudice based on gender or sex, typically against women. The term has origins in the feminist movement and refers to the incorrect belief that men are inherently more valuable than women or superior in some way” (Fighting Sexism).

Three Lancaster High School students weighed in about how sexism in today’s society affects them and their day-to-day life. LHS junior, Riley Semmens said she thinks society’s expectations create sexist assumptions.
“When I am wearing makeup or a nice outfit people immediately expect that I have done it for other people’s viewing pleasure. I don’t wear makeup for anyone other than myself,” she said.

LHS junior Riley Semmens, Photo courtesy of Semmens.
LHS junior Riley Semmens, Photo courtesy of Semmens.

“Society wants us to see men and women. The reality is that there are no actual labels that qualify to all women or all men, everyone is different especially when it comes to personalities,” said Semmens.

Although there will always be sexism in the world, there are ways to promote awareness.
Semmens stated that to help battle sexism in the world, accept those instead of trying to change them.

“We can try to accept people as they are. When someone expresses themselves with either their physical looks or verbally we should not try to make them feel less confident, accept them for who they are and let them strive in their confidence.“ said Semmens.

LHS senior Destiny Hollyfield spoke about how the problem of sexism starts at a young age and that she is confident that she could complete the same tasks as her male classmates.

LHS senior Destiny Hollyfield. Photo courtesy of Hollyfield.
LHS senior Destiny Hollyfield. Photo courtesy of Hollyfield.

“My fifth grade teacher wanted help putting up chairs. I had just begun helping whe she told me to sit down and let the boys handle it, even though I could do the task just fine,” she said.

Hollyfield continued with her opinion that people should examine the stereotypes they hold to prevent sexism and respect people as human, rather than male or female.

“If people went out of gender norms, others would be more likely to participate in activities that may be specifically deemed a boy or girl activity. People can learn to be more respectful to those of the opposite sex,” said Hollyfield.

In an article in The Guardian, author Margie Warrell stated that double standards are embedded so deep in American culture, that people don’t recognize when they are reinforcing them. Excusing negative male behavior that boys will be boys or judging women who lose their girlish figure promotes sexism.

LHS junior Dominic Rager. Photo courtesy of Rager.
LHS junior Dominic Rager. Photo courtesy of Rager.

Yet there is another side to this controversial issue. Some people believe that taking a risk by conducting themselves with behavior outside the gender norms can be dangerous.

“People may get bullied or even killed just for going outside of the gender norms,” said Dominic Rager, a junior at LHS.

On the other hand, Rager noted that sexism is wrong because it demoralizes women. “It brings women down and makes them think they can’t do certain things,” he said.