Sexism Definition Essay

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Sexism Definition Essay

Sexism as a form of gender inequality in status and opportunities between women and men still exists today. This phenomenon has a particularly negative effect on females, their rights in employment, family, and healthcare. Women are still poorly represented in the executive branch, government organizations, and even higher education institutions (Bock, Byrd-Craven, & Burkley, 2017). Therefore, sexism is a critical issue to be resolved because it has adversely affected the development of society for many centuries; thus, settlement of this problem demands proper policy decisions and adherence to the standards of ethics as well as keen awareness of citizens.

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Historical and Contemporary Aspects

Sexism existed throughout all periods of the history of human development. The matter of sexism is extremely acute, as traditions, beliefs and stereotyped attitudes often propagate it among the public. For centuries, the most noticeable form of sexism was a hostile one, which implied the cruel treatment of women. In particular, it was observable when the females tried to fight for their rights. It was difficult for women to take their positions in the areas that society considered purely male (Willie, Rieker, Kramer, & Brown, 2016). Hence, the women who competed with men to get a good job were often confronted with sexism, namely the vicious attitude on the part of men.

Nevertheless, many people struggled with this kind of discrimination. Their striving was influenced mostly by the women’s movement for equality. The first wave began due to the US anti-slavery movement in the 19th century. Afterwards, females fought against sexism in social and political spheres. In 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in the US that gave women the right to vote (Tutchell & Edmonds, 2018). Therefore, these movements have become the impetus for reducing sexism in the society.

However, sexism continues to be a shameful phenomenon of the contemporary world. A lot of women around the globe have significantly lower wages than men who do the same job. Modern researchers claim that this tendency does not depend on the individual level of women as scholars have argued earlier. Moreover, recent studies have shown that the systematic oppression of females leads to inequality, economic downturn, and the rise of sexism in the society (Willie et al., 2016). Women are often affected by sexism in the process of seeking employment. Thus, sexism in the workplace still impacts the lives of females and their right to equality in remuneration and job opportunities.

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Additionally, benevolent sexism has a negative effect on the rights and responsibilities of women and their position in the society. The public belief that a female should be gentle, sensitive, and fulfill household chores is also one of the forms of sexism. Modern studies have revealed that benevolent sexism devaluates women’s aptitude for personal development and career growth, as it presupposes hostile attitudes. The followers of benevolent sexism promote the idea that a man is more competent and has the right to treat a woman leniently. Men’s actions are perceived as an expression of support. Females are given the role of housewives and nannies who often have to survive on the insignificant incomes of their husbands. Moreover, women in the underdeveloped countries have insufficient opportunities to reach career heights, develop intellectually, and choose their own ways of personal growth (Yi, 2015). The paradox lies in the fact that they have to struggle with hostile sexism in their search for a job. Thus, benevolent sexism leads to the reduction of rights and opportunities of women in various domains.

It is also essential to highlight that the communities in many nations justify hostile sexism against women committed in the intimate sphere. The public opinion emphasizes that a woman becomes a victim of sexual harassment if her behavior contributes to such a situation; in this regard, rape is justified. The same also applies to domestic violence (Willie et al., 2016). Moreover, many females brought up in the traditions of benevolent sexism independently substantiate the cruelty of their husbands. Thus, sexism leads to sexual humiliation and injustice.

Public Policy

Numerous women and governments struggle with the manifestations of sexism, as this kind of discrimination has a negative impact on the economic, social, and political development of countries. The Votes for Women campaign and the Women’s Liberation Movement launched in the UK were the most successful campaigns for equality. Later the Act that permitted females to vote in parliamentary elections was adopted on February 6, 1918 in the UK. The Women’s Liberation Movement held in Britain resulted in the Equal Pay Act and the Sex Discrimination Act. The latter transformed the way women were treated in the society throughout the world, especially in the UK and the US (Tutchell & Edmonds, 2018). Thus, the movements against sexism has greatly changed the public policies in several states around the globe.

Sexism not only manifests itself on the personal level or in interpersonal relationships but it is the part of various cultures all over the world. The underlying reason is the fact that men have more opportunities to gain political power, high social status, and better material resources than women. In many states, females do not enjoy equality in employment, property rights, and education (Bock et al., 2017). Sexism emerges at the national level even in developed countries where equality is legally approved.

The institutional sexism is especially noticeable when there is the use of specific forms of regulation or structuring of social institutions. This type of sexism has its expressions in politics, health, education, and religion. Despite the adopted laws, women are less represented in politics and are more rarely elected to the post of a political leader. Modern studies show that females are more likely to live in poverty than men because of their life situations, which females do not have an opportunity to change (Willie et al., 2016). Therefore, gender stereotypes still make it difficult for women to get proper education, adequate healthcare, and equality in the political domain.

Notwithstanding, it is worth noting that sexism also affects the lives of men. The patriarchate that is prevalent in most countries has established the rigid norms of behavior for men, namely due to the normative and idealized conception of masculinity. The depreciation of a woman’s position is directly related to the increased demands on male behaviors. When a man cannot conform to these stereotypes and attitudes, he is subject to sanctions in the form of ridicule and reproach (Bock et al., 2017). Hence, it is possible to argue that men are also influenced by the drawbacks of sexism.

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Considering medical ethics, Maya Dusenbery (2018), the author of the book Doing Harm: The Truth About How Bad Medicine and Lazy Science Leave Women Dismissed, Misdiagnosed, and Sick states that sexism is particularly noticeable in healthcare. She stresses that medical ethics guarantees that patients have the right to equal care regardless of their sex or sexual orientation. Furthermore, Jenara Nerenberg (2018) claims that women have always been provided with less effective diagnosis and treatment than men. However, numerous problems associated with female health have not been sufficiently researched yet and are often explained by the emotionality of women (Nerenberg, 2018). Consequently, females still do not have equal rights with men in the healthcare sphere.


In conclusion, sexism may assume various forms, including hostile and benevolent ones. Nonetheless, sexism is mostly about women; this kind of discrimination is enshrined in traditions and outlook of citizens in different countries. The issue of sexism had its vivid manifestations during all periods in history, and it is still strongly evident in the contemporary conditions. Thus, sexism adversely affects the lives of both women and men, as it limits their rights and freedoms. Besides, sexism is contrary to the equality of citizens in terms of law and society. The equality in rights and the adopted legislative acts have facilitated the decline in sexism around the globe. However, this problem still has many negative consequences at the personal and national levels.