Because she’s gorgeous…1 min read

I offer this real-life, overheard example 1 of subtle sexism in our society:

In the midst of a discussion about the devaluation of college degrees (prompted by this article), a man told me (emphasis mine):

“That reminds me of my sister-in-law. She’s just drop-dead gorgeous, you know. But she got a summer job working as an electrician from her dad, and then later on became an apprentice and still works as an electrician today.

I kept waiting for the sister-in-law’s appearance to have anything to do with the story. It never did.

Nobody commented on it – and few people even realized it’d been said. But the reverse – randomly commenting on a relative’s hotness – would have been very, very strange if the relative was a woman.

I don’t think anything was “meant” by it, or that it was even intentional. I’m pointing at it as a symptom of the sexism embedded in our society.

1 As always, where and when I overheard it, along with who said it, may or may not be completely changed around. The intent is the same.

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  1. August 26, 2010

    I have to thank you for this post. It brings to light one of the many unnoticed sexisms that people often get snarky with me for pointing out! In many cases people will tell me I am overly sensitive, or that we can say things like that now because women have as many rights as men so the gender equality battle is over. At which time I point out why they're wrong. So yeah, great post. 🙂

  2. August 26, 2010

    Why, thank you! Feel free to point to this; I think it's an obligation to use my straight white male-ness to point out exactly this sort of thing… and making sure it gets heard.

  3. August 31, 2010

    I sometimes brain dump and say all kinds of random stuff and could be accused of this. But I understand where you're going, it's almost like the person said, "In spite of not needing to work hard or be smart because she looks beautiful, she does anyway."

    Maybe I should say it of everyone.

    "That reminds me of my friend Mike. He's built like a brick shithouse, you know? Muscles that just glisten with manly dew and locks of blond hair that tousle in the wind. But he got his RHCE and now works as a chief IT security for a consulting firm. No, I am not gay, why?"

    "That reminds me of my niece. Boy, could she fingerpaint and make macaroni pictures when she was six. But she got a medical degree and is now a resident anesthesiologist at John Hopkins."

  4. August 31, 2010

    I am totally for the macaroni art one!

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