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National Association Against Woman Suffrage

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

Sexism, a term coined in the mid-20th century[1], refers to the belief or attitude that one gender or sex is inferior to or less valuable than the other. It can also refer to hatred of, or prejudice towards, either sex as a whole (see misogyny and misandry), or the application of stereotypes of masculinity in relation to men, or of femininity in relation to women.[2] It is also called male and female chauvinism. Historically and across many cultures, sexism has resulted in the subjugation of women to men. Many men and women espousing feminism, masculism and other ideologies have worked toward dispelling sexist beliefs. Sexual discrimination is the actions that are taken as a consequence of these attitudes. This distinction is not always acknowledged.

Generalization and partition[]

In philosophy, sexist attitudes can be understood or judged on the basis of the essential characteristics of the group to which an individual belongs—in this case, their sexual group, as men or women. 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 a significant degree of homogeneity in the characteristics of men and women respectively, and generally does not take into account the differences that exist within these groups. XY males and XX females who are genetically one sex but have developed the characteristics of the opposite sex during the foetal stage are usually considered with respect to their phenotypes under this system.[3]

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.[4]

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 LGBT

Sexism against women[]


See also: Women's suffrage
See also: Coverture

The view that men are superior to women is a form of sexism. The term 'sexism' is sometimes used by itself to mean sexism against women.[How to reference and link to summary or text] When expressed by men, sexism against women may be called male chauvinism. Related terms are misogyny, which implies a hatred of women, and gynophobia, which refers to a fear of women or femininity.

The idea that men benefit from certain rights and privileges not available to women is referred to as male privilege.

Historically, sexism against women has taken a number of forms.

Legal status[]

U.S. and English law subscribed until the 20th century to the system of coverture, whereby "[b]y marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law; that is the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage."[5]

Not until 1875 were women in the U.S. legally defined as persons (Minor v Happersett, 88 U.S. 162),[6] and women did not receive the vote in the U.S. until 1920[7] and in the U.K. until 1928 via the Representation of the People Act 1928.

Domestic violence[]

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice, women are more likely than men to experience "nonfatal intimate partner violence." [8] Women are more likely to be killed by intimate partners; 30% of female homicide victims are estimated to have been killed by intimate partners, as opposed to 5% of male homicide victims.[9]


Analysis of perpetrators of rape against women has been argued to reveal a pattern of hatred of women and pleasure in inflicting psychological and/or physical trauma, rather than sexual interest. According to Mary Odem and Jody Clay-Warner, feminists and social scientists have argued that rape is not the result of pathological individuals, but rather of systems of male dominance and from cultural practices and beliefs that objectify and degrade women.[10]. Odem and Clay-Warner, along with Susan Brownwiller, consider sexist attitudes to be propagated by a series of myths about rape and rapists.[11][12] They state that contrary to these myths, rapists often plan a rape before they choose a victim,[13] and that acquaintance rape is the most common form of rape rather than assault by a stranger.[14][15] Odem also states that these rape myths propagate sexist attitudes about men by perpetuating a myth that men cannot control their sexuality.[10]

Sexual objectification[]

It is argued that sexual objectification is a form of sexism.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

Sexism in language[]

See Gender-neutral language.


Women in the past have been excluded from higher education.[16] When women were admitted to higher education, they were encouraged to major in subjects that were considered less intellectual; the study of English literature in English and U.S. colleges and universities was in fact instituted as a field of study considered suitable to women's "lesser intellects."[17]

Research studies have found that discrimination continues today: boys receive more attention and praise in the classroom in grade school,[18] and "this pattern of more active teacher attention directed at male students continues at the postsecondary level."[19] Over time, female students speak less and less in classroom settings.[20]


Women have been excluded from participation in many professions. When women have gained entry into a previously male profession, they have faced many additional obstacles; Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive an M.D., and Myra Bradwell, the first female lawyer, are examples.

Discrimination continues today, according to studies done by Cornell University and others.[21][22]

A 2009 study of CEOs found that more men occupying the position were overweight or obese than men in the general population, while the reverse held true for female CEOs. The leader of the study stated that the results "suggest that while being obese limits the career opportunities of both women and men, being merely overweight harms only female executives -- and may actually benefit male executives."[23]

Gender Wage Gap[]

Main article: Income disparity

See also: Male–female income disparity in the United States

Woman have historically earned less than men; the reasons for the current wage gaps are also the subject of controversy.

In the 19th century and for much of the 20th, women were paid less than men for the same work. In the United States, this eventually led to the passing of the U.S. Equal Pay Act in 1963. At that time, women earned approximately 58 cents to a man's dollar.[24]

Today, women in the U.S. are estimated to earn roughly 70 to 80 percent of the income of men.[25][26]. However, unmarried women without children may earn 15 to 20 percent more than males in the same situation, depending upon geographical location in the U.S..[27][28]

Some argue that women's earning less than men is entirely attributable to women's own choices; one line of argument is that women fail to negotiate raises and then "whinge to their colleagues of their disappointment." [29] Feminist commentators respond that even when women do negotiate for raises, they are less likely to receive them and are perceived as unfeminine. [30] Other explanations for the gender wage gap is that women earn less because they are more likely to work part-time, to take a year or more off of work to have children, and because professions considered 'for females' may pay less.[31][32]

A report published by the White House in 1998 claimed that a gender pay gap remains even after taking into account such factors as relative experience, part-time vs. full-time work, differences between professions, and taking time off to have children.[33] Other research has found that even after accounting for parenthood status, education, job title, and other factors, there is still a significant income disparity in men's favor (Blau and Kahn 1997, Wood et al 1993). Research done at Cornell University and elsewhere indicates that mothers are 44 percent less likely to be hired than women with otherwise identical resumes, experience, and qualifications, and, if hired, are offered on average $USD 11,000 a year less than women without children. [34] Exactly the opposite is claimed for men: those without children earn, on average, $USD 7,500 less than men with children.[35]

Studies done of transsexual women show that after their sex-change they earn an average of 1.5% more, whereas transsexual men earn an average of 32% less after their transition from male to female.[36]

Sexism against men[]

See also: Separatist feminism

See also: SCUM Manifesto

The view that women are superior to men is another form of sexism, and when expressed by a woman may be called female chauvinism or femdom. The hatred of men is called misandry, while androphobia refers to the fear of men or masculinity.

Several aspects of society have been viewed as forms of sexism against men.


Wendy McElroy refers to male stereotyping when she claims that in some "gender feminist" views, all men are considered irreconcilable rapists, wife-beating brutes, and useless as partners or fathers to women.[37] McElroy and Camille Paglia claim that certain feminists[attribution needed] they refer to as "gender feminists" view women as innocent victims who never make irresponsible or morally questionable choices.[38]

Other feminists such as Kate Fillion have questioned the idea that women are always innocent victims and men always the guilty victimizers when the interests of each collide with those of the other.[39]


In 1997, the Canadian Advertising Foundation ruled that a National Ad campaign that featuring Nicole Brown Simpson's sister Denise with the slogan, "Stop violence against Women" was in fact portraying only men as aggressors, and that it was not providing a balanced message and was in fact contributing to gender stereotyping. (The murder of Nicole Simpson also included the murder of Ronald Goldman).[40]

Popular Policy and Culture[]

Several airlines have policies requiring all adult male passengers to change seats if seated next to unaccompanied children.[41][42] The acting New Zealand Human Rights Commissioner said Air New Zealand and Qantas could have a case to answer for unlawful discrimination against men.[41] For more information please see Sex_discrimination_against_men_in_airline_industry

It is much apart of western culture that men are less valued than women as the mantra of "women first" still exists to the extent at which men are expected to die for their favor. In January 2009 a US Airways Airbus A320 flight 1549 with 120 passengers on board crashed into the Hudson River. Upon describing the incident and what ensued a passenger stated "At first chaos, but everyone was kind of orderly, man. You know after a while everyone, we just, I just kept saying relax relax, women and children first. And then it just started filling with water, quick." Heading toward the forward exits, and then standing on the wings, the passengers developed their pecking order. Women and children went first into the rafts, then people who had fallen into the river and been plucked out.[43]

In the United States, boys sports teams in colleges have been shut down in order to maintain gender parity with the amount of women who enter sports on campus through Title IX gender equality policy. [44] Young ladies at some campuses have shown solidarity against the ostrasization of boys by creating videos to bring attention to the issue.[45] The Obama administration is investigating the implementation of forced gender parity through Title IX to science, technical and engineering departments in colleges as well. Some organizations have expressed concern to the further denigration for opportunities for boys. [46]

In December 2003,[47] radio-host and masculist Glenn Sacks started a campaign against the "Boys are stupid, throw rocks at them!" T-shirts, on the grounds of misandry. This raised national attention and led to the removal of the shirts from several thousand retail outlets.[48][49] Other T-shrits sold to girls include "Boys Are Disposable" and "Boys Are Stupid". Men's Rights Advocates have expressed concern about the acceptance of these types of clothing in schools. These shirts have also been predicated by guns stating "He had it coming".

Men, specifically husbands and fathers are portrayed in the media as animals or parts of animals such as a horses ass, donkeys or (jack asses) and dogs [50]while commercials in mainstream media further fortify the denigration of men and boys by depicting female power in relation to male disposability into trash cans[51]. Men are also shown in government ads being accosted, and their genitals attacked by women. [52]

British home secretary Baroness Corston has proposed that all women's prisons should be shut down and converted to prisons for men. If adopted by the home secretary, Baroness Corston's approach would see Holloway and about 14 other all-female prisons in England and Wales shut down or converted into jails for men. [53]

In the United States it is popular and lawful conception that men are not meant to have a parental role with their children and as such custody of children in divorce is often rewarded to the mother. "As late as 1971, the Minnesota State Bar Association's handbook advised lawyers and judges that: "except in very rare cases, the father should not have custody of the minor children. He is usually unqualified psychologically and emotionally."[54]

The United States has created the Cabinet Level advisory Council of Women and Girls to oversee all governmental policy and functions of all Cabinet Level offices as to how they affect the needs of women and girls. There is no such high level council for men or boys. Excerpt from a lobbying letter by N.O.W: "This Office on Women should seek new ways to foster the full potential of tens of millions of women and girls of all races and from all walks of life -- through policies, budgeting, inter-agency coordination and special initiatives." [55]

In the United States men by law can not have a full or equal decision making part in the responsibility for conception in the act of procreation. As such men have no right to abort financial responsibility or parental rights on their own accord. Women however are able to exercise the right to abort responsibility of conception by aborting an unborn fetus despite the wishes, religious beliefs or personal life planning and health wishes of the father. Unequal protection under law to reach the same ends (abort responsibility for conception is not afforded to men) The proposition for each sex to make mutually exclusive decisions to abort and for the female to decide to abort or not abort accordingly is not afforded. By implication it is men who are responsible for conception and as such it is therefore something a man does to a woman and is not seen as a mutual act. For a full discussion on this matter, see Male abortion.

Anthropologist Helen Fisher states in her book Anatomy of Love, "The mating game is powerful and primitive. There's a great deal that both sexes need to learn about that. But unfortunately right now all the blame is on men. Sexual harassment is an issue that has been controlled by women."[How to reference and link to summary or text] Dr. Fisher is referring to passive female solicitation of male sexual response by exposure of their bodies. Though passive in nature female way of dress has to potential to be overtly sexual without direct action. Female way of dress is not just something men see but feel as well. As such female way of dress has the potential to be sexual harrasment of men. It is common conception that women should have no responsibility for the cloths they wear and how it makes men feel or how it affects men personally, emotionally or sexually. Though actions of men that are direct or indirect and affect women likewise is classified as harassment.[56]

Domestic Violence[]

The U.S. Center for Disease Control in conjunction with the American Psychiatric Association found that of heterosexual relationships involving violence, 50.3% involve non-reciprocal violence, and of that 50.3%, women were the instigators 70.7% of the time, although "physical injury was more likely to occur when the violence was reciprocal."[57] Men have no laws such as VAWA or Violence Against Women Act that afford them equal protection under law. Linda Kelly states in her thesis, DISABUSING THE DEFINITION OF DOMESTIC ABUSE: HOW WOMEN BATTER MEN AND THE ROLE OF THE FEMINIST STATE in the Florida State University Law Review that domestic violence is equally the province of women.[58]

Mandatory Military Service[]

Many countries around the world make it mandatory for males to join the military, but not females. Men at 18 years of age in the United States are required to register for military conscription to be drafted to war or military service. Women are not required to register with the Selective Service System and have no obligation to serve in the military in the case of a draft.

Sexism against transsexuals[]

Main article: Transphobia

Transphobia refers to prejudice against transsexuality and transsexual or transgender people, based on their personal gender identification (see Phobia - terms indicating prejudice or class discrimination). Whether intentional or not, transphobia can have severe consequences for the person the object of the negative attitude. The LGBT movement has campaigned against sexism against transsexuals. 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.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

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 eliminate the problematic virgin/whore dichotomy of traditional Western society.

Modern feminists like Ariel Levy have claimed 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 women, 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 women are themselves objectifying other women 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, women were given more liberty to express virility while the reverse has not been true for men, 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 women. However, many feminists[attribution needed] believe that this dual identity rather allows men to condemn a women for her sexuality for being either modest or virile (see double standard).


Some individuals[attribution needed] hold the view that pornography contributes to sexism, arguing that in pornographic performances for male spectators, actresses are reduced to mere receptacles--objects--for sexual use and abuse by men.[How to reference and link to summary or text] They[attribution needed] claim that the narrative is usually formed around men's pleasure as the only goal of sexual activity. Some opponents[attribution needed] believe pornographic films tend to show women in particular as being extremely passive, or that the acts women perform are degrading[How to reference and link to summary or text] and solely for the pleasure of their sexual partner, and that this is evidence of sexism. German feminist Alice Schwarzer is one proponent of this point of view, in particular in the feminist magazine Emma. The reverse, where female spectators objectify male actors, has also been identified as sexism. Many opponents of pornography 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 exaggerated expressions of pleasure.

On the other hand, some famous pornographic actresses such as Teresa Orlowski have argued that they do not feel themselves to be victims of sexism against women. In fact, many female pornographic stars and sex-positive feminists view pornography to be progressive, since they earn a livelihood for performing consensual acts. In pornography, women generally earn more than their male counterparts.[How to reference and link to summary or text] Many directors and managers of the industry are women as well. Porn-positive feminists often support their position by contrasting the situation of women in countries with strict pornography laws (e.g., Women's rights in Saudi Arabia) versus women in countries with liberal pornography laws (e.g., the Netherlands). However, in Sweden (which is considered the world leader in gender equality[How to reference and link to summary or text]) civil servants, soldiers and politicians are not allowed to stay at hotels that offer pornographic TV programmes, because of strong opposition to pornography from feminists, women's organizations and politicians. [59]

Occupational sexism[]

Main article: Occupational sexism

Occupational sexism refers to any discriminatory practices, statements, actions, etc. based on a person's sex that are present or occur in a place of employment. One form of occupational sexism is wage discrimination, which is prohibited in the US.[60]

Sexual discrimination[]

See also: Discrimination

Though sexism refers to beliefs and attitudes in relation to the gender of a person, such beliefs and attitudes are of a social nature and do not, normally, carry any legal consequences. Sex discrimination, on the other hand, may have legal consequences. Though what constitutes sex discrimination varies between countries, the essence is that it is an adverse action taken by one person against another person that would not have occurred had the person been of another sex. Discrimination of that nature in certain enumerated circumstances is illegal in many countries.

Sexual discrimination can arise in different contexts. For instance an employee may be discriminated against by being asked discriminatory questions during a job interview, or because an employer did not hire, promote or wrongfully terminated an employee based on his or her gender, or employers pay unequally based on gender. In an educational setting there could be claims that a student was excluded from an educational institution, program, opportunity, loan, student group, or scholarship on account of his or her gender. 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.

Socially, sexual differences have been used to justify different roles for men and women, in some cases giving rise to claims of primary and secondary roles.[How to reference and link to summary or text] While there are non-physical differences between men and women, there is little agreement as to what those differences are.[How to reference and link to summary or text]

The United Nations has stated (2006) that women struggle to break through a "glass ceiling," and that "progress in bringing women into leadership and decision-making positions around the world remains far too slow."[61] The Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues, Rachel Mayanja, said, "The past ten years have seen the fastest growth in the number of women in parliaments, yet even at this rate, parity between women and men in parliaments will not be reached until 2040."[61]

The term "glass ceiling" is used to describe a perceived barrier to advancement in employment and government based on discrimination, especially sex discrimination. In the United States, the Glass Ceiling Commission, a government-funded group, stated: "Over half of all Master’s degrees are now awarded to women, yet 95% of senior-level managers, of the top Fortune 1000 industrial and 500 service companies are men. Of them, 97% are white." In its report, it recommended reverse discrimination, which is the consideration of an employee's gender and race in hiring and promotion decisions, as a means to end this form of discrimination.[62]

Transgendered individuals, both male to female and female to male, often experience problems which often lead to dismissals, underachievement, difficulty in finding a job, social isolation, and, occasionally, violent attacks against them.

See also[]


  1. Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 6th edition
  2. Brittan, Arthur (1984). Sexism, racism and oppression, 236, Blackwell.
  3. "What is AIS?" AISSG. 13 Sep 2006.
  4. Neuwirth, Jessica. "Unequal-A Global Perspective on Women Under the Law." Ms. Magazine. 2004.
  5. Blackstone, William. Commentaries on the Laws of England.
  8. U.S. Bureau of Justice. "Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S."
  9. U.S. Bureau of Justice. "Intimate Partner Violence in the U.S."
  10. 10.0 10.1 Odem, Mary E.;; Clay-Warner, Jody (1998). Confronting rape and sexual assault, i-x, Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Odem" defined multiple times with different content
  11. Brownmiller, Susan (1992). Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape, 480, New York: Penguin Books, Limited.
  12. Odem, Mary E.;; Clay-Warner, Jody (1998). Confronting rape and sexual assault, 130-140, Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources.
  13. Odem, Mary E.;; Clay-Warner, Jody (1998). Confronting rape and sexual assault, Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources.
  14. Odem, Mary E.;; Clay-Warner, Jody (1998). Confronting rape and sexual assault, Wilmington, Del.: Scholarly Resources.
  15. Bohmer, Carol (1991). "Acquaintance rape and the law" Parrot, Andrea; Bechhofer, Laurie Acquaintance rape: the hidden crime, 317-333, New York: Wiley.
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  17. Eagleton, Terry. Literary Theory.
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  20. Sadker, Myra, and David Sadker. "Failing at Fairness: Hidden Lessons." In Mapping the social landscape: readings in sociology. Ed. Sandra J. Ferguson, Susan J. Ferguson. Taylor & Francies, 1999. ISBN 0767406168. Page 350.
  21. Cross, Sam. "Women Excluded from Executive Positions."
  22. Newman, Melanie. "At the top, women still can't get a break from stereotypes."
  23. Julie Moult. Women's careers more tied to weight than men -- study. URL accessed on 2009-04-10.
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  28. Roberts, Sam. "For Young Earners in the Big City, A Gap in Women's Favor."
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  30. "Whining Women To Blame for Gender Wage Gap.",,24326170-2,00.html
  31. Lips, Hilary. "Blaming Women's Choices for the Gender Pay Gap."
  32. Longley, Robert. "Why Women Still Make Less Than Men."
  33. The White House. "Explaining Trends in the Gender Wage Gap."
  34. The Motherhood Manifesto.
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  36. Cloud, John. "If Women Were More Like Men.",8599,1847194,00.html
  37. Wendy McElroy, Sexual Correctness: The Gender-Feminist Attack on Women, p.[specify]
  38. Guests: Camille Paglia & Christina Hoff Sommers Has Feminism Gone Too Far? Think Tank With Ben Wattenberg - aired: 4 Nov 1994 accessed 6 Jan 2006
  39. Kate Fillion, Lip Service: The Truth About Women's Darker Side in Love, Sex and Friendship.
  40. The Power of One, Pamela Bron, Chronicle-Journal, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, April 18, 1997, p. B1
  41. 41.0 41.1 Template:Cite web url=
  42. Template:Cite web url=
  47. Pat Cangelosi. 'NOW Attacks Sacks, Belittles Campaign Against "Boys are Stupid" Clothing'. Canadian Children's Rights Council 1 April, 2004.
  48. Associated Press. 'Retailers pull "Boys Are Stupid" products'. Associated Press 29 January, 2004.
  49. David Crary 'Stores pull "Boys Are Stupid" merchandise'. The Seattle Times 30 January, 2004.
  59. No more hotel porn for Swedish government officials, The local, [1]
  60. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Facts About Compensation Discrimination. URL accessed on 2008-04-23.
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External links[]

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