I have noticed prevalent sexism in social media conversations, especially on WhatsApp. Unfortunately, I notice sexism very easily and I am very sensitive to it. I notice it multiple times a day, in many WhatsApp messages. I receive, jokes which people forward to me, comments they make on various social media platforms, traditions they talk about, traditions they praise about, and many other things. I tirelessly try to point it out to people around me, especially to people from my own family because first, I should make my own family aware of this prevalent sexism before I try to change rest of the world. Many times people who forward or say those things don’t even realize that there is something sexist in it. The main reason behind this mindset is a deep cultural history of sexism in every society. Developed nations are taking conscious efforts to remove this sexist mindset but in countries like India with strong patriarchal culture, these things still go unchallenged. To give a simple example about this, yes I have to receive a single husband-wife related joke in Indian groups where a wife is not depicted as a money spender, totally dependent on the husband, non earning partner. By default, every joke or message has this image of the wife, occasionally there might be a message to praise sacrifice of women and laud their tolerance and dedication towards their partner, but this is again very stereotypes description of women.
I always wonder why people don’t try to offer somewhat different perspective? Why don’t even women take notice of such stereotyped depiction of their image? Maybe it is true that in developing countries like India there are still many wifes who are dependent on their husbands. It is not because they are any less capable of working outside their homes, but because their family structure or social and cultural settings doesn’t allow them to accept any job. They are so consumed by household work, which is equally important and valuable that they can’t do any other work. Traditionally, household work is valued as much as it should have been, and hence the image of stay home wifes is that they don’t earn anything. This notion also results in the image of wifes as a creature who survives on husbands hard earned money without doing any hard work of their own, and all these jokes and sexist TV serials just reinforce this image on men and women’s mind generations after generations.
This sexist behavior and attitude need to be questioned, I do it from my side. I get into trouble because of this, many times people get annoyed because of my net picking small things. But the reality is, that these small things slowly build a sexist attitude in boys and girls which subsequently becomes part of cultural nuances of our society. These things then create rigid barriers, glass ceilings, gender stereotypes, and many other things which stereotype gender roles. The only way to remove sexism is to point it out and make people aware of it. If even after that they want to continue with those jokes and that attitude it’s their choice, but at least make them aware that they are being sexist. This is one basic thing we all can do to curb the prevalent sexism around us and our own family or friend circle or social group is a good place to start this.
Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.