I’m sure most feminists have experienced some version of the “it’s just a joke” comment when they take offense to sexism. We’re constantly told to “take it easy, we obviously don’t mean it”. Thing is, BUB, you kind of do. You just don’t realise you do because you’re told that sexism is wrong and the conception in the media is that only very closed-minded people are sexist, so I’ll pretend to be that person, which I’m obviously totes not and that’s why it’s so funny. However, the reason you are making these jokes in the first place is because that idea of woman is still being presented every day to you. It’s often quite subtly done mind you, but it’s there if you care to look.
Ads still portray women as the sole house cleaners, and when men do enter the cleaning products ads, it’s to help us poor lil ladies out! What would we do without Mr. Muscle to remove all those hard stains?
Even our razors are gendered, as men are marketed with dark colours such as blue and grey and to look quite technical with all its “specs”:
While boys get this:
So when you “joke” around saying “get back in to the kitchen, woman” – you mean it. Maybe you don’t literally mean for me to go back in to the kitchen, but you are re-articulating ideas of the ideals of womanhood / gender stereotypes that are being presented to you every day. Instead, you should be challenging them, by reminding yourself how complicated each individual is: that your dad cooks as often, if not more than your mother; that you like to keep your house tidy too; that that woman taxi driver was actually the best taxi driver you’ve had in a long time; that those “salmon” coloured tops, are really just a different shade of pink; that some women, and some men, can’t distinguish between the oven and the microwave; that you actually don’t know how to chop wood, or build a house, or shoot a gun – and that’s okay. Subscribing to gender stereotypes, and thinking that one is better than the other, only limits what you can do in the long run. Open your mind and stop doing what the media tells you to.
And please, stop telling me that my fight against sexism is imaginary. Of course we have come a long way from where we were fifty years ago, but in a world where women are still a lot less likely to get promoted into positions of authority; are often dismissed as hysterical when arguing; when women are still accused of “asking to be raped”; still cat-called from across the street; often too intimidated to walk alone; still pressured to pluck and wax every hair on their body in order to conform to the ideals of beauty – you can’t pretend that there isn’t still something to fight for.