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Why is it sexist to say men are better at math yet not sexist to say women are better at communication? Why is there a double-standard in progressive/liberal places even though we like to claim that we support gender equality?
tynamite's avatar Basically women live in a world where they are taught that they are sex objects (1), less suitable to power than men (2), and are inferior to men (3). Given enough time, they internalise these sexist views as correct themselves, so the sexist views the men give them start to become their own beliefs. Below are are good examples of such.

  • As a young woman, how can I shake the feeling that being good-looking is the primary thing that males will acknowledge and praise my existence for?
  • How do I smash the patriarchy? // Patriarchy: Do Indian husbands feel that they are the boss of their family?
  • Is Sheryl Sandberg sexist in saying that women are less ambitious than men?

  1. The first question is internalised sexism as the female OP believes that she is a sex object who is only appreciated for her looks.
  2. The second and third questions are internalised sexism as the female askers believe that the patriarchy is a bad thing.
  3. The fourth question is internalised sexism as Sheryl, a woman, believes that women are inferior to men.

It's your past experiences that shape your world view, so if a woman grows up believing she's a sex object (1) who is less suitable for power than men (2) and inferior to men (3), that's what she's going to eventually "believe" is true as far as society is concerned.

Take a look at this image from a Samsung Galaxy Gear advert, and think about whether it's sexist or not.

galaxy gear

The chances are, if you're a woman you will find it sexist because it reinforces dated sexual objectification stereotypes to you (1) and because the woman isn't allowed to use the watch being sold so she's inferior (3). However, female children won't find it sexist because they haven't been subjected to sexism yet, but female adults will.

No child ever accused Action Man and Barbie of being sexist, but some adults think Barbie is sexist. I challenge you to type in "Action Man is sexist" and "Barbie is sexist" into Google and compare the results.

Now why do women.....

  • Think that Barbie is sexist whilst men don't think Action Man is sexist?
  • Think that the Samsung Galaxy Gear advert is sexist but men not?
  • Think that it's sexist to say that men are better at math but not women with communication?

The truth is they think that way, because women have been subjected to constant sexism in their lives which has caused them to internalise sexism. Below are examples from real life of women experiencing what they call to be sexism, that causes them to internalise sexism.

Becki (1) Sexual objectification
I am 18, and upon returning to school this year after being absent due to suffering Anorexia Nervosa I was told by a classmate that he "couldn't understand why girls like you starve themselves, boys like a bit of meat on their birds" and that "someone should just take them to McDonalds".

The culture that women exist soley for the enjoyment of men, and that everything we do is because of men, is still so overwhelmingly prevalent, even in a generation who are supposed to be more open minded and accepting.

Lauren (2) Women are less suitable for power than men
1. Finished grad school, complete with prestigious award: not a word of congratulations from anyone in the family.

2. Got engaged about a year later: cards, gifts, a barrage of telephone calls from distant relatives squealing with joy and rapture. Never in my life been showered with such approval.


Anonymous (3) Women are inferior to men
My date insisted on paying for me at the restaurant because "he is the man, and the man always pays for the lady". I don't see why I, as a female, could not pay for my meal myself. I find this very old fashioned and think we should move on from this crap. I can pay for my own god damn meal.

These are just 3 examples of sexism that women face in their day to day lives that causes them to internalise sexism, which causes them to find the Samsung Galaxy Gear advert offensive. It's about stopping a pervasive culture rather than the ethics of women liking high heel shoes.

So when Sheryl Sandberg says that men are more ambitious than men or when Christopher Hitchens says that women aren't funny, women do call that sexist and write articles to refute that because his words have undertones which are part of a sexist culture, whereas if they had said the same thing about white people, nobody would of complained as white people don't experience systematic or social racism.

If I said women are shit, that's directly sexist. But if I said that men are better than women at math or that they like shoes with heels, that's indirectly sexist. Just because I am indirectly sexist doesn't mean that I am sexist. It's up to my intent for you to decide whether I'm sexist or not. I could be saying it to show my belief, talk about experiences, to cite research, or to undermine women. Unless you listen to the person saying it within the context they are saying it, you can never know if they were being sexist or not, as it's indirect so it's based on intent.

Now because women have the idea that they are oppressed by men in society and viewed as lesser beings, they would interpret it to be sexist because their perception of the world is to be oppressed and told that you're inferior, so that's what they're used to.

So in short, it's because of women's life experiences of sexism that causes them to internalise sexist believes of themselves to be true as far as society is concerned, which causes them to think that certain things and in this case questions to be sexist.

Let's put it this way. 50% of the population are women, yet there's loads of sexist questions on Quora about them. However a much fewer minority of people are black, but there are hardly any racist questions about blacks on Quora. Think about that and how weird it is. Black people internalise that they're less attractive than white people but don't experience racism off the opposite sex because of it, but women internalise sexism from the opposite sex and do experience sexism because of it.

This video made by white people to stop white genocide, explains some of the racist, or reverse racist undertones white people face but cannot complain about because white people don't experience racism. For example, Black History Month is seen as a good thing (because blacks are discriminated against and disadvantaged), but White Pride is seen as racist and trying to claim you're superior to other races.
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