A friend was talking with colleagues the other day about sexism and discrimination that they’ve witnessed at work. They knew what they were seeing/hearing was wrong, but felt they didn’t have the right words to challenge it. He asked me to put together those words, and TA DA!!! here are some words:
Statement: I don’t hire women in their 20s because they go and have babies.
Response: Actually, with every person you hire there’s always a chance they’ll leave because they’ve found a better job. However, when someone goes on parental leave they don’t actually leave the company, so the company benefits from the retention of knowledge.
Further: The business case for paid parental leave: Employers who provide paid parental leave show their commitment to their employees, and in return they get greater employee productivity and loyalty, higher rates of staff retention, and employees have increased job satisfaction. It’s hard to argue against that.
Statement: That’s reverse sexism.
Response: Actually, reverse sexism doesn’t exist. Sexism is prejudice or discrimination based on gender. Something is either sexist, or it isn’t sexist.
Further: Sexism = power + prejudice based on gender. Any group in society can be prejudiced, but if they don’t also have power, then their prejudice can’t disadvantage anyone.
Statement: Someone tells a joke in which the punchline is sexist, or involves someone getting raped.
Response: Reply, “I don’t get it”. And keep repeating this until they explain exactly how it’s funny. It’ll make them look stupid.
Further: Some jokes about rape can be funny. This one by Tig Notaro is freakin’ hilarious (via Blue Milk). Also, telling someone their joke isn’t funny isn’t taking away free speech, because you can say whatever you want.
Statement: People are promoted on merit, not gender.
Response: Actually, that’s not true. In our society, male experience is considered the norm, and female experience is considered something that isn’t really important. It’s the case in politics, in the news, in popular culture, and in the workplace. Even when women “do ‘all the right things’, they are unlikely to earn as much or advance as far as their male colleagues” (50.1KB pdf).
Further:Yale researchers presented scientists with identical resumes for a lab manager position. One had a male name, the other a female name. The scientists rated the female applicant “signficantly lower” than the male in terms of competence, hireability and whether they’d be willing to mentor this person. The female was also offered a much lower starting salary. As Ilana Yurkiewicz writes, “We are not talking about equality of outcomes here; this result shows bias thwarts equality of opportunity”.
Further further:“Exposure to sexism is the greatest threat to the work performance of women” and Hidden Gender Bias in the Workplace.
Statement: I’m a feminist and I am anti-abortion.
Response: Actually, you’re not a feminist. You can’t support women’s rights while also seeking to remove their rights. If you’re opposed to abortion, then don’t have one. But let other women make their own decisions about what is right for them.
Further: If you are concerned about Australia’s reasonably low abortion rate, then lobby your local MP for longer paid parental leave, for cheaper childcare and more childcare places, and for real flexibility in workplaces that allows mothers and fathers to balance paid work with parenting. Mind you, if you are genuinely pro-life – rather than being against safe abortion – then you’re already doing that, right?
Statement: Feminists are ugly man-haters.
Response: Dude, have you been living under a rock? Feminists are HOT!
Let’s make this list Bigger! Better! Suggestions below and I’ll update the post.