How Everyday Discourse Contributes to Sex Discrimination

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.  

2 thoughts on “How Everyday Discourse Contributes to Sex Discrimination

  1. I agree with you and have witnessed first hand systemic injustice for sexism. In high school, we had a girl on our football team and we all witnessed the discrimination first hand. She played football all four years of high school and hardly ever seen any play time. The only time she did was when people would say something to the coach about it. We all knew why she wasn’t getting play time but no one ever said anything until her senior night when she wasn’t put on the field at all. She didn’t get to play due to being a girl and the fact that no one did anything about it really got under my skin.

  2. Hi Sarah,
    I like your post. I saw some people commenting on a female about she being a wonderful wife for men but no man would ever deserve such a wife. I do not think this is a negative comment, but I still feel uncomfortable because those people evaluated female by eligibility for marriage with male. I think those stereotypes towards female had created a hard time for them.

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