Women are vastly underrepresented in leadership positions all across the board, from Congress to CEO positions. Why? Women have had all the same rights as men for less than 100 years, and even though we are equal on paper, all the underlying discrimination still exists. Think of being a white male as the ultimate head start in American culture. Everyone else is still catching up. Here are 10 of the many reasons why sexism is not your friend:

1. Having to fear walking alone at night

Granted, I don’t think anyone feels safe walking alone in a Walmart parking lot at 11:30 p.m, but it is a little different for women. I have been told to keep my keys between my fingers, Wolverine-style, to carry pepper spray, to have 911 dialed before I leave the building, to ask someone else to walk me to my car and even to wear my hair down so that an assailant cannot grab my ponytail. I know first hand that boys are not told the same things. Why should they be? We are not facing the same threat. Women are afraid of being kidnapped, sexually assaulted, or raped. Men are afraid of being mugged.

Not to minimize how terrifying being robbed actually is, my point is that women fear that their bodies will be stolen from them while men fear that their wallets will. Think of how many women you’ve seen nervously walk alone at night while their eyes are darting around on high alert. I’ve felt that fear before, and if you ask any other woman she would tell you the same thing.

2. Catcalling

I’ve had enough catcalling experiences in my life to know that it will never happen if you are with other guys. The moment you’re alone or in a group of girls, you become fair game. But wait, why am I complaining? It’s just a compliment right? I can’t believe how ungrateful I was for a second there, let’s move on to the next point.

~NOT~

Catcalling is not a genuine compliment. Catcalling is when a woman is minding her own business, and a stranger makes her uncomfortable by commenting on her appearance in a sexual, rude, aggressive or inappropriate way. A compliment has the intended purpose of making someone feel good about themselves, catcalling is meant for a guy to mark his territory and objectify strangers for his amusement. I don’t think many things are more intimidating than walking alone in broad daylight and having a group of boys shout you down and tell you all the things they would do to you. That is harassment, and if you don’t think so, then go tell your mother what a compliment that is.

3. Assertive = Bossy ?

I’ve spend most of my life characterized as "bossy." Because of that, I’ve gotten used to my assertive nature being dismissed by boys as a PMS symptom (I don’t think they know that periods don’t last 17 years.) I can almost hear the collective sigh from all the ladies reading this. If you are a guy reading this, throw that out of your list of reasons why she’s mad at you. Even if it is, it isn’t. Ok? But real talk, being a female debater is one tough job. Every time I’m in a debate round, I have to strike the balance between being ”ladylike” and actually doing what all of my male counterparts are there to do: debate. I am already looking forward to a lifetime of being a bossy lawyer lady.

4. Gendered advertising

Ok, so not that bad in comparison to the other items on this list, but it’s a real pet peeve. Why do we need lady pens, lady razors, lady deodorant, lady tissues, lady tea, lady beer or lady tool sets? It’s all the same! If I have learned anything living with two brothers, it’s that if something is pink, it’s probably twice as expensive. The pink tax is real.

5. Sexual objectification

The commodification of the female body leads to every other item on this list. Women’s bodies become marketing tools and entertainment. When we dehumanize people, every other injustice is justifiable. Example: bikini clad women being used to sell… everything.

6. Sexism Hurts Men Too

Feminism is not just for women! Hyper-masculinity is pervasive in American culture, and it manifests itself when we tell boys not to cry because it’s a sign of weakness. Bringing up boys to believe that they can never express their feelings teaches them to “man up” instead of open up. When boys are shamed for “getting in touch with their feminine side,” it is usually because they display emotion, which for some reason has become a feminine characteristic instead of a human one. Also, when we treat men like they can’t control themselves, that is demeaning. To say that a rape victim is at fault for her revealing clothing is to say that a man was just too weak to control himself when that is not the case! Grown men, just like everyone else, are entirely capable of controlling themselves. But society gives them an excuse through victim blaming.

7. Modesty

This goes without saying, but the idea of modesty is pretty skewed toward women. In my school, there is a strictly enforced dress code for girls that specifies skirt length, shorts length, shirt type, style of tights, etcetera. Boys are allowed to wear impossibly short shorts while teachers patrol the hallways with yardsticks to measure the length of girl’s skirts. Modesty codes are rooted in the idea that girl’s bodies are a distraction for boys. This only serves to feed into the mindset that women’s bodies are actually for men and not for themselves.

8. Rape culture

The term “rape culture” was coined by feminists in the 1970s to describe the way society blames victims instead of rapists and perpetuates a culture that justifies rape. So when stories such as Brock Turner’s surface, it’s no wonder that sexual violence is such a problem on college campuses. When rapist Brock Turner went to trial, the first questions asked were, “What was she wearing? How drunk was she? Why wasn’t she more careful?” All of this while Brock Turner, who had used and abused another human’s body for his own pleasure was sentenced to a measly three months in prison. It is not a woman’s job to protect herself from rapists, just like it is not every person’s job to protect themselves from serial killers. We can only stop rape culture when we stop protecting rapists. End of story.

9. Double standards

There are plenty of double standards between men and women, and chances are you may have noticed some. Women are expected to be strong but not intimidating, stylish but not promiscuous, and successful but not intimidating. A man with a lot of female friends is a cool guy or a player, while a girl with lots of guy friends is trying too hard or a slut. Have you ever noticed how virginity is a much more important trait in women than in men? Yeah, me too.

10. "You Owe Me"

I saw this awesome video on Buzzfeed (I promise this is going somewhere that isn't cat related) and it made me think a lot about what my night life may be like someday. What I mean is that, being 17, I've never met a guy in a bar or gone on a blind date where I feared for my safety. I advise you to watch the video (here), but I will give you the lowdown: woman goes on first date, guy buys her a few too many drinks and insists on driving her home, guy pushes woman too far, woman wants to say no but thinks about how she owes it to him for being so nice, woman realizes how ridiculous that ideology is and fights back. It is very common for men to act like buying a woman diner is payment for what he will get later, but what is the difference between that and prostitution? My body cannot be bought for a seafood diner, if anything it would be big bowl of pasta, but not even then. Women need to have greater self-worth than to let themselves be guilted past their limits and men need to reject the idea that dates, nice behavior, or gifts are a down payment. A guy won't stop if you don't say no, and to say no you have to know what you want and why you are or aren't saying no. Granted, he might not stop even if you say no, but that's what fists are for. Bottom line: Always know your limits and don't let anyone act like you owe them any piece of you.

11. Women oppressed worldwide

Even if every other item on this list sounds like the ramblings of a privileged white girl with nothing else to complain about, remember the millions of women around the world who are still oppressed. Remember the women who live as sex slaves, who cannot leave the house without a man, who are not allowed to speak unless spoken to, who are killed for dishonoring their family, whose bodies are mutilated in the name of purity, who live every day to serve as their husband’s slave, who are denied education and who are told that their worth is limited by their gender. Those women need feminism.


So next time some meninist frat boy gives you a hard time about sexism, shut him down like the badass feminist you are.