It may come as a surprise to some, but sexism is not an issue that is solely perpetrated by men; women can also hold some pretty unfair expectations for themselves and other women.
Firstly, let me clarify that this post is not about what some people like to label as ‘reverse sexism’, in which women are, on occasions, considered to be sexist towards men. Though I won’t focus on the many inaccuracies of describing men as victims of sexism in this post, I would recommend reading this article by the Big Fat Feminist blog on the subject.
All women suffer at the hands of sexism, whether it be economically or emotionally. The impact of sexism can manifest in any number of ways, such as eating disorders as a result of the objectification of women’s bodies.
Body image, for this reason, is often brought up in feminists discussions (I am not suggesting that all non-feminists are sexist. Though, if you believe in the equality of the sexes, why aren’t you?).
Most women could describe times when they have suffered with having a negative body image, whether this be due to the size of their bodies (breast, bum or belly etc.), height, hairiness and hair colour.
Despite the discomfort we feel when comparing our bodies to better ones, we continue to criticise other women – whether they be celebrities and enemies, or even our own family members and friends. But why do we do this?
There are many patriarchal institutions and organisations that use sexist women as mascots to support their misogynistic ideologies. After all, it can’t be sexist if a woman says it…
This tactic is not just used to keep women suppressed, it is also implemented in order to offend many other minorities. For example, when fascist political parties use their token ethnic minority members, in order to rebuke any accusations of racism:
More recently, The Daily Mail has been using their front woman Katie Hopkins as their greatest weapon, for which to fulfill their sexist agenda. Here, Katie uses her Daily Mail platform to offend all women that are larger than size 14, which, considering that is our countries average size, is a lot of women.
However, rather than add credibility to such outdated beliefs as the Daily Mail, what Katie Hopkins’ (and other sexist women) fiercely offensive remarks actually symbolise is how deeply imbedded sexism is in our society.
Sexism is the norm, and women are now speaking out in support of the degradation of their own bodies. But, is it any surprise that women experience such self-loathing, when we are taught from such a young age that men are the superior sex?
Fatism is a great social issue, which largely seems to attack women, who are considered as ‘failures’ if they don’t have Beyonce’s hairless, curvy and yet perfectly toned body.
As a society, we shame these offensive and larger bodies into hiding, by telling them what they can/cannot wear, what they should eat and where they can go. For example, larger bodies should not wear tight clothing, eat fatty foods and they should definitely not go to nightclubs.
A public figure who is frequently a victim of ‘fat-shaming’ is popular YouTube personality Amanda Hackey. Her uplifting videos have earned Amanda an enormous fan following, however, this does not protect her from the hate of ignorant internet trolls:
A popular tool that is used to attack the overweight is the argument that an overweight person’s health will suffer as a result of their size. However, good health is not synonymous with ‘skinny’ and it does not have a specific appearance; I’m sure many of us have slender friends that appear to live off junk food and heavier friends who seem to forever be dieting.
What these critics also seem to be ignoring is the invaluable importance of good mental health. Is it not about time that we focused a lot more attention on our happiness and self-confidence, rather than mere aesthetics?