Sexist Advice

13 02 2009

So over on Feministing, there is a conversation going on about the worst college advice people have been given which made me think about the sexist advice I’ve been given throughout my life, specifically because I am female. Even if they were well intentioned comments told to me by people who care about me, the sexist undertones and implications are offensive. Here are some examples:

– Don’t walk by yourself late at night. Try to get a guy friend to walk you, or walk with a group of your girl friends.

– When you go to parties, cover your drink, or don’t drink from open containers.

– Don’t wear such low cut tops or short skirts!

All of these pieces of advice are indicative of a victim-blaming rape culture in which women are responsible for protecting themselves from the actions of others that they cannot control. They all insinuate that if you follow them – if you don’t walk by yourself late at night, if you cover your drink at parties, if you don’t wear “slutty” clothing – then you will be less likely to be raped or sexually assaulted. However, wanting to go out on your own late at night, drinking at parties, and wearing a short skirt or a revealing top is not asking to be sexually harassed or assaulted. I understand that these preventative measures are part of well intentioned risk reduction and safety planning, but it’s just sad that so much focus has to be on what not to do in order to not get raped, and so much of the emphasis is placed on what potential victims should do to stay out of harm’s way. What about putting accountability where it belongs, on the perpetrators or the potential perpetrators? Women should have the right to go out and do as they please without worrying about being raped or sexually assaulted.

Other examples of sexist advice:

– Don’t carry heavy things, ask _______ (insert male figure: father, brother, boyfriend, guy friend, random male acquaintance, etc.) to help you.

– You should ask _______ (again, insert male figure) to help you fix your _______ (bike, computer, printer, heat, etc.)

– Don’t do _______, it’s not lady-like. / Be ladylike.

What are some pieces of sexist advice that other people been given?


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3 responses

13 02 2009
natasha

“if you don’t want dudes hitting on you and shit then don’t get all dressed up or whatever.”

this is true because when i get dressed in the morning i’m thinking about all men on earth.

13 02 2009
feminist2

Yes, I agree – We can only be held responsible for our own actions – but our choices and actions should not hold us accountable for the misbehavior and wrongdoing of others. NOTHING we do, say, or wear EVER invites or justifies sexual harassment and/or violence.

13 02 2009
feminist2

I also hate being told, “You just haven’t found the right man yet” or “We need to find you a boyfriend.” Of course, because that would solve all of my problems and then I’d live happily ever after.

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