Sexism requires response
POLITICS | Women must actively combat sexist remarks
Published: Thursday, October 14, 2010
Updated: Thursday, October 14, 2010 20:10
According to a recent study, sexist comments during political campaigns have more weight than any other negative remarks. They can lead to dramatic loss in popularity or votes for the woman in question. Generally, these women choose to ignore such comments rather than give them attention and give them more credibility, but some should really be addressing these attacks head on to prevent them from happening again and again. If ignored, these misogynistic comments disguised as political wit will continue affecting practically every female involved in politics out there.
Studying at Wellesley College acclimates us to an environment in which all leaders are women. Unfortunately, outside Wellesley, female leaders are a minority. Many of us may want to pursue a career in politics and perhaps change those statistics. But whether we do or not, this issue affects all of us because political leaders represent women professionals everywhere.
Politicians should become accustomed to being targeted. Their opinions are issues of national debate, their views are contested and sometimes even their private lives are publicly broadcast. Gender, however, is an area that has nothing to do with any of these things and should be insignificant during a political campaign. But surprisingly, these particular commentaries have an enormous impact on the actual standings of candidates.
Women in politics are generally advised not to do anything about these disrespectful attacks. Nevertheless, keeping quiet is not the way to go. Sadly, the responses to these destructive remarks are often a product of instinct, an unconscious reaction to lifelong stereotypes. In order to stop sexism from being a predisposition, we must address the issue up front and with purpose.
Unfortunately, public and legal institutions cannot change if the views of society remain static. Starting to deal with sexism from the top is the only way we can be assured that changes transcend and trickle down to the rest of the female population. Female politicians can make a true difference by not allowing these discriminatory remarks to pass unnoticed but instead calling the population’s attention towards them and not turning away from this matter. We cannot ignore the existence of sexism; instead we must understand how it comes to be and how it can be avoided. If we understand its roots, we will be able to pinpoint the exact moments it occurs and thus implement changes.
If we do not confront the issue of sexism, there is absolutely no chance of us ever breaking the glass ceiling. We have gotten closer to gender equality but we cannot assume the fight is over when it is barely beginning. There is still so much we have to change about the way the world perceives us and our ability to succeed in positions of power. The only way we can do this is to go out into the world and be leaders, both in politics and in the fight against sexism. We must put ourselves out there and show by example that the diversity that comes with gender is actually beneficial because of the differences in perspective.
Previous generations have struggled so that we have the opportunity to lead. We cannot ignore these efforts; instead we must make sure that they are not forgotten. Every time the women who represent us disregard these kinds of comments, they are giving out the message that misogyny is acceptable. We have an impressive past behind us Wellesley women and because of that the bar is set pretty high. It is our job to make sure we live in an environment where we have the opportunity to set it even higher.