Sexism is everywhere. We constantly see images, hear phrases, and read words that disrespect, demean, or undermine women. What’s scary is that many women are taught to believe that sexism is a thing of the past. That is is vaulted and sealed up with ancient black and white images of housewives beaming phony smiles over a pot roast. But is sexism really so ancient? Or have we just been conditioned into accepting sexism into our lives?
There is a short and easy answer to this leading question and that is a simple “no”, sexism is not a thing of the past. And within our ever evolving social media world, conditioning is inevitable because this media content (images, video, sound, celebrity gossip) is omnipresent.
One recalls the exceedingly ridiculous amount of sexism employed against Hillary Clinton throughout the 2008 Primary Election. Everything from Clinton’s dress to her voice were criticized, and in a Primary where examples of sexism and racism played out in the media, it was evident that sexism is still very much an inequality within our society.
Or think back to the backlash Kristin Stewart received after admitting to an affair with her married director, Rupert Sanders. The married Sanders, was hardly slammed as hard as Stewart in the tabloids.
Fortunately, we have organizations like Women’s Media Center, that are dedicated to fighting sexism in the media. Founded in 2005 by Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda, and Robin Morgan as a non-profit progressive women’s media organization, WMC aims to make women visible and powerful within the media. The organization also employs media campaigns to hold individuals and other organizations accountable for sexist behavior.
Media is great space where we can start to reshape the images of women portrayed in the media, as well as bring into existence new images of women who challenge sexist ideals (transgender, LGBTQ, and women of color). It is equally important to bring this challenging work into the physical, public sphere to broaden our awareness of everyday sexism and fight to end the conditioning and socialized sexism within our communities.