Sexism means discrimination based on sex or gender or the belief that just because men are superior to women, discrimination on the basis of gender is justified. Sexism is a form of oppression. From where is it that we start to differentiate? Schools.

Be it the use of misogynistic language or asking “strong boys” to help lift desks – every single day, it becomes easier to encounter sexism in schools. One of the most prominent sexist ideology is the fact that girls are supposed to dress so as to not make boys uncomfortable or distracted. Is it really a girl’s fault if the boys are struggling or are distracted in class just because the girls are showing some shoulders or flaunting their legs? Girls have around 7 restrictions on what they can choose to wear to the school while boys have only 4. Girls get dress coded regularly while boys do not.

This perpetuates the thought that it is the victim’s fault for getting assaulted. Threatening them with suspension, calling parents or any other rigid punishment, solidifies the gender mould for students. Girls grow up being taunted on how to dress up, what to wear and are told that no man will marry them if they disobey. Is marrying a person the ultimate goal of a woman?

 “Male fantasies, male fantasies, is everything run by male fantasies? Up on a pedestal or down on your knees, it’s all a male fantasy: that you’re strong enough to take what they dish out, or else too weak to do anything about it. Even pretending you aren’t catering to male fantasies is a male fantasy: pretending you’re unseen, pretending you have a life of your own, that you can wash your feet and comb your hair unconscious of the ever-present watcher peering through the keyhole, peering through the keyhole in your own head, if nowhere else. You are a woman with a man inside watching a woman. You are your own voyeur.

Margaret Atwood, The Robber Bride

Every woman leads a life of extreme thinking and trying to live within the constraints of patriarchal expectations. We often shape our lives modifying our own selves to serve male fantasies. However, it begins at school.

In classrooms, everybody expects women to act like the epitome of goodness and ethereal beauty. Girls are described as “disrespectful” if they talk back or argue while it is “regular” and “inquisitive” for a boy to do so. If boys can be angry and frustrated half the time, so can the girls. Girls should not feel ashamed to express their anger. I’ve seen teachers remark, “At least the girls should be docile, huh?” What do young students like me infer from that? We infer that girls are supposed to be kind while boys can have fun punching each other in the classrooms.

I have witnessed at least one sexist phrase every single day in my life as a student. The sexist lingo continues to reinforce the patriarchal values and it looks like nobody is making an effort to unlearn the stereotypes. Here, I would like to list some extremely sexist statements to make it easier for us to identify them and confront & call the people out who make such statements:

  • “You throw like a girl!”
  • “Man up!”
  • “Boys will be boys”
  • “Take it like a man”
  • “You run like a girl”
  • “Girls can’t do math”
  • “Fight like a man”
  • “Boys should not cook”
  • “Girls do not take up computer science”

There are just so many more to list. The burden to eradicate sexism is on us. Let’s fight back.