By Sarah Goulder
Although we have made great strides in creating a more inclusive and progressive world, there is still much work to be done to limit (and hopefully one day eliminate) sexism, homophobia, and overall hate. The ways in which these injustices manifest today is much more subtle than it once was. For instance, the kind of inequality that Simone de Beauvoir references in The Second Sex is much more obvious and severe than what is seen today. However, her ideas on othering and its consequences still apply to sexism and other areas of prejudice. Currently, the things we say, how we act on social media, and what we see on television and film all contribute to the persistence of systemic injustice in the modern world. Specifically, I would like to focus on sexist and homophobic discourse in everyday life and in american media, as both of these areas contribute significantly to the perpetuation of discrimination and bias.
A recent encounter with a terribly unoriginal and sexist joke sparked my interest in writing about this topic. A friend of mine recently said a version of the “make me a sandwich” joke about another woman. My blood started to boil, but I remained silent and let it go because I knew that my friend was not an actual misogynist. In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have. That type of “joke” is an example of why sexism and gender discrimination still exist. Casual comments rooted in prejudice (whether it’s sexism, racism, or homophobia) are indicative of a much larger issue how we reinforce everyday bias and discrimination. Here is a link to a blog site that does a good job of explaining why this particular joke is problematic. Going beyond sexism, the way we speak (and where we do it) have real world consequences that many people would rather not acknowledge. This article discusses a few recent(-ish) examples of celebrities and comedians, like Stephen Colbert that have engaged in “casual homophobia” by using anti-gay tropes and language. Despite our intentions, casual prejudicial discourse prevents us from moving forward culturally and makes it difficult to create political and legal changes to unfair policies.