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National Association Against Woman Suffrage

The sign of the headquarters of the National Association Opposed To Woman Suffrage

Sexism is commonly considered to be discrimination and/or hatred towards people based on their sex rather than their individual merits, but can also refer to any and all systemic differentiations based on the sex of the individuals.

Sexism can refer to subtly different beliefs or attitudes:

  • The belief that one gender or sex is inferior to or more valuable than the other;
  • Female or male chauvinism
  • The attitude of misogyny (hatred of females) or misandry (hatred of males); as well as
  • The attitude of imposing a limited and/or false notion of masculinity on males and a limited and/or false notion of femininity on females, or vice versa.
  • A feeling of distrust towards the opposite or same sex as a whole.

Generalization and partition[]

Sexist beliefs, as a part of essentialism, holds that individuals can be understood or judged based solely on the characteristics of the group to which they belong—in this case, their sexual group, as males or females. This assumes that all individuals fit into the category of male or female and does not take into account intersexed people who are born with a mixture of male and female sexual characteristics. This also assumes homogeneity in the characteristics of all males and all females respectively, and does not take into account any differences that may exist within a group. Additionally, there are XY males and XX females who are genetically one sex but have developed sexual characteristics of another sex at the foetal stage.

Certain forms of sexual discrimination are illegal in many countries, but nearly all countries have laws that give special rights, privileges, or responsibilities to one sex or two sexes.

sex condition of hatred fears discriminatory anti-discriminatory
discrimination of movement of
female femininity misogyny gynophobia gynocentrism feminism
male masculinity misandry androphobia androcentrism masculism
intersex intersexuality misandrogyny androgynophobia LGBTIQ
transsex transsexuality transphobia LBGT

Sexism against females[]

The term 'sexism', in common usage, is viewed by many to imply sexism against females, perhaps because this is the most commonly identified form of sexism. The view that men are superior to women is one form of sexism. This form is often called male chauvinism, chauvinism in a broader sense referring to any extreme and unreasonable partisanship that is accompanied by malice and hatred towards a rival group. A similar term is gynophobia, which refers to fears of females or feminity.

Historically, in many patriarchal societies, females have been and are viewed as the "weaker sex". Women's lower status can be seen in cases in which females were not even recognized as persons under the law of the land. The feminist movement promotes women's rights to end sexism against females by addressing issues such as equality under the law, political representation of females, access to education and employment, female victims of domestic violence, self-ownership of the female body, and the impact of pornography on women. While feminists broadly agree on the aims and goals of feminism, they may disagree on specific issues (for instance, pornography or abortion), tactics, or priorities.

Sexism against males[]

The view that women are superior to men is also a form of sexism. Sexism against males has been referred to as "reverse sexism." Suedfeld criticizes this label, stating that discrimination against men is sexist, and that the reverse of discrimination is nondiscrimination.[1] Androphobia refers to the fear of males or masculinity.

Certain attitudes toward violence in partner relationships may be evidence of sexism.[How to reference and link to summary or text] As part of a 2006 survey for an international study of female students, 60% of 200 women at a Glasgow university said it was acceptable for women to hit their husbands, while 35% admitted assaulting their partner. Eight percent admitted injuring their partners, the highest rate in the study, which involved 36 universities.[2]

A UK men's health group stated that an imbalance of funding for men's health relative to women's health, as well as social attitudes towards men's health, contribute to a lower life expectancy, a higher suicide rate, and a higher death rate from cancer.[3]

Christina Hoff Sommers and authors Nathanson and Young have charged that the modern feminist movement contributed to sexism against males.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Sexism against transsexes[]

Main article: Transphobia

Sexism against transsexes has also only been recently identified, and it has also yet to enter into the public discourse. Traditionally, transsexes are viewed as having psychological problem of gender identity disorder, or more recently viewed as simply being radically homosexual.

Transsexuality refers to the condition of being self-identified with the opposite sex and the LGBT movement has actively fought sexism against transexes. The most typical forms of sexism against transsexuals are how many "women-only" and "men-only" events and organizations have been criticized for rejecting transfemales, and transmales respectively. Transsexed people are also often the target of hate crimes, as the traditional notion of masculinity and femininity is often perceived to be threatened by those who adopt a different sex later in life.

Sexism and sexual expression[]

The expression of sexual intimacy is a part of the human condition. However, various aspects of human sexuality have been argued as having contributed to sexism.

The Sexual Revolution[]

During the sexual revolution, there was a change in the cultural perception of sexual morality and sexual behavior. The sexual revolution has been known as the sexual liberation by feminists since some saw this new development in the West as a leveling ground for females to have as many choices concerning their sexuality as males--hoping to elliminate the problematic virgin/whore dichotomy of traditional Western society.

Modern feminists like Ariel Levy have warned that the current state of commercial sexuality has created a "Raunch Culture"[How to reference and link to summary or text]. This cultural development, (which has largely occurred in the West) the commercialization of the sexual objectification of females, has been criticized as being limiting for men and women. Rather than being liberating, some feminists argue that the "pornification" of Western society has reduced and equated the scope of feminine power to sexual power only. Some feminists argue that females are themselves objectifying other females by becoming producers and promoters of the "Raunch Culture".

Some masculist theorists posit that prior to the sexual revolution the idealized male was expected to be virile while the idealized female was expected to be modest. They note that after the sexual revolution, females were given more liberty to express virility while the reverse has not been true for males, who have yet to be given a choice to be non-virile. They argued that the dual identity of hypersexuality and asexuality is a luxury and special status that only exists for females. However, many feminists believe that this dual identity rather allows males to condemn a female for her sexuality for being either modest or virile (see double standard).


Some individuals express the view that pornography is contributing to sexism, because in usual pornographic performances for male spectators the actresses are sexually objectified. The narrative is formed around male pleasure as the only goal of sexual activity. The German feminist Alice Schwarzer is one representative of this point of view. She has brought this topic up repeatedly since the 1970s, in particular in the feminist magazine Emma. The reverse, where female spectators are objectifying male actors, has also been identified as sexism.

On the other hand, some famous pornographic actresses such as Teresa Orlowski and Tímea Vágvölgyi have publicly stated that they do not feel themselves to be victims of sexism against females. In fact, many female pornographic stars and sex-positive feminists view pornography to be progressive, since they are paid money for performing consensual acts, and also since many directors and managers of the industry are women as well. Porn positive feminists often support their position by pointing out the situation of women in countries with strict pornography laws (ie Saudi Arabia) versus women in countries with liberal pornography laws (ie the Netherlands). This does not however take into account that even though the women taking part in pornography choose to do so in large part because they are given money for it, they will still be seen as sexual trade objects by the viewers and consumers of pornography. Many anti-pornography supporters also believe that pornography gives a distorted view of men and women's bodies, as well as the actual sexual act, often showing the performers with synthetic implants or exaggerative, fake moans of pleasure. Many pornographic films also show the woman as being extremely passive, or performing degrading acts solely for the pleasure of their sexual partner, and the viewer.

Those advocating against pornography often fail to take homosexual pornography into account. The same arguments used against heterosexual pornography could be adapted to homosexual pornography. If it assumed that watching pornography inherently involves objectifying the actors and that objectifying someone is a form of sexism, than homosexuals who watch homosexual pornography would also be guilty of sexism against their own gender. Many people find this argument absurd and falsely believe that this indicates that the arguments used against heterosexual pornography are unsound. Of course not all advocates against pornography make the argument that objectification only equals sexism and vice versa. Many uphold the view that pornography can be objectifying without the viewer necessarily being sexist against members of their own sex.

Still other feminists, outside of the porn-positive feminism and anti-pornography feminism, feared that censoring profit-oriented pornography would lead to censoring legitimate non-profit female expression of their sexual experience. This is because historically, indecency acts in various countries had, in the past, been used to censor sexual educations, which are vital to the sexual independence of females and females taking ownership of the decisions over their bodies. Thus two independent matters get regrettably entangled.

Sexism and linguistics[]

It has been argued that sexual dichotomies exist in language, though it is disputed whether certain language causes sexism or sexism causes certain language (see the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis).

Sexist language and gender-neutral language[]

Nearing the end of the 20th century, there is a rise in the use of gender-neutral language in western worlds. This is often attributed to the rise of feminism. Gender-neutral language is the avoidance of gender-specific job titles, non-parallel usage, and other usage that is felt by some to be sexist. Supporters feel that having gender-specific titles and gender-specific pronouns either implies a system bias to exclude individuals based on their gender, or else is as unnecessary in most cases as race-specific pronouns, religion-specific pronouns, or persons-height-specific pronouns. Some of those who support gender-specific pronouns assert that promoting gender-neutral language is a kind of "semantics injection" itself. Some opponents dismiss this trend as "political correctness gone mad"[How to reference and link to summary or text] and protest against what they see as censorship. Others like misandry researchers Nathonson and Young see the term 'gender' as a biased "front" for what they call "ideological" feminism[How to reference and link to summary or text].

Anthropological linguistics and gender-specific language[]

Unlike the Indo-European languages in the west, for many other languages around the world, gender-specific pronouns are a recent phenomenon that occur around the early-20th century. As a result of colonialism, cultural revolution occurred in many parts of the world with attempts to "modernize" and "westernize" by adding gender-specific pronouns and animate-inanimate pronouns to local languages. This ironically resulted in the situation of what was gender-neutral pronouns a century ago suddenly becoming gender-specific. (See for example Gender-neutrality in languages without grammatical gender: Turkish.)

In those parts of the world, some feminists, who are unaware of the etymology of their own language, complain about what they perceived as "sexist language" with arguments like "traditional language fails to reflect the presence of women in modern society adequately"[How to reference and link to summary or text] similar to the west. However, other feminists, who are aware of historical linguistics, realize that the traditional language in their part of the world is inherently gender-neutral. They instead decide to revive the original gender-neutral usage from over a century ago with reclamation projects. For example, when the sex of something is unknown, is it always referred to as a "he," or when using the term "one," typically "himself" is used also. As well as those examples, in the phrase "him and her," the "him" always comes first. Furthermore, in some combined words such as "postman", the word man, which is clearly not gender neutral, is used, whereas woman, or a gender neutral alternative (which doesn't even exist in many languages), is never used.

Reappropriation and reclamation[]

Reappropriation (aka reclamation projects) describe a cultural process by which certain groups reclaim or re-appropriate terms, symbols, and artifacts that were previously used to discriminate. Within the English language, terms like 'bitch' and 'slut', which had been historically used as pejorative sexist remarks against females. They have since been used to refer to a "strong, independent, unattached female" and a "sexually liberal, hypersexual female"[How to reference and link to summary or text]. Similarly, terms like 'girlie men' and 'tranny', which has been historically used as pejorative sexist remarks against transsexes, have since been used to refer to the varying degree of transexuality for "pre-operation" and "non-operation" as whether they had undergone or will undergo sex-reassignment or not. The success of these cultural process has been disputed.

On the flip side, the word 'dude' as a pejorative has crossed the sexes and is being applied to males. In politics, the term 'girlie men' has also been used by Governor Schwarzenegger to attack his political opponents, who are not transsexes. This has led to Schwarzenegger being accused of being sexist.

Sexual discrimination and law[]

Sex discrimination is discrimination based on sex. Currently, discrimination because of sex is defined as adverse action against another person, that would not have occurred had the person been of another sex. This is considered a form of prejudice and is illegal in certain enumerated circumstances throughout most countries.

There are many types of sexual discrimination depending on the environment. For instance in the employment settings one can claim that an employer had asked discriminatory questions during his or her interview process, an employer did not hire, promote or wrongfully terminated an employee based on his or her gender, plus employers can pay unequally based on gender and sexually harass an employee. In the Education setting there could be claims that a student was excluded from an educational program or opportunity due to his or her gender and a student can be sexually harassed. In the housing setting there could be claims that a person was refused negotiations on seeking a house, contracting/leasing a house or getting a loan based on his or her gender. Another setting where there is usually gender discrimination is when one is refused to extend his or her credit, refused approval of credit/loan process, and if there is a burden of unequal loan terms based on one’s gender.

[[Image:Template:Country flag alias Canada|22x20px|Template:Country alias Canada]] Canada[]

  • [[Image:Template:Country flag alias Ontario|22x20px|Template:Country alias Ontario]] Ontario Human Rights Code 1962
  • Canadian Human Rights Act 1977

[[Image:Template:Country flag alias Hong Kong|22x20px|Template:Country alias Hong Kong]] Hong Kong[]

United Kindom United Kingdom[]

  • Equal Pay Act 1970
  • Human Rights Act 1998

Template:Country alias United States United States[]

Notable U.S. laws regarding discrimination based upon sex in the U.S. include the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibits wage discrimination by employers and labor organizations based on sex, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which broadly prohibits discrimination in the workplace including hiring, firing, workforce reduction, benefits, and sexually harassing conduct. U.S. law has also included discrimination based upon pregnancy in the workplace as discrimination based upon sex with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act embodied in the Civil Rights Act of 1991.

See also[]


  1. Monroe, Kristen R (2002). Political Psychology, 321, Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. "Part IV, Chapter 17: Postmodernism, Identity Politics, and Other Political Influences in Political Psychology, by Peter Suedfeld. "Although the 'reverse sexism' (or racism) label is widely used, what it refers to is not 'reverse' anything. Discrimination against men is sexist, and against Whites, racist, just as discrimination against women and Blacks is sexist and racist. The real reverse of discrimination is nondiscrimination." (p.321, footnote)"
  2. Survey finds male abuse approval. URL accessed on 2008-03-28.
  3. Men 'need more health care'. URL accessed on 2008-03-28.

External links[]

Template:Discriminationfooter Template:Types of Segregation

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