I was once sitting around with some guys at work, talking crap, when I dropped an S-bomb. One of the younger guys looked at me in shock and said: “Don’t swear, ladies don’t swear!” My response was to look shocked and to say “Are you freaking kidding me? That’s pretty sexist!”
To put this into context, our work environment was very casual. I think all the guys in our conversation had been swearing before this, so it felt natural for me to do so. I hadn’t even realised I said it! So I called this guy a sexist. And I think he is: to hold me to a different set of values because of my gender is exactly what sexism is.
But, he didn’t think so. In his opinion, him telling me not to swear was not sexist. I asked the other guys in the conversation, and they all agreed with him. They thought telling me to not to swear wasn’t sexist, as I shouldn’t be swearing as a female. At this point, I got pretty grumpy!
Am I the only one that thinks this is crazy? Why on earth is it acceptable for a man to swear, but not a female? And why didn’t any of these guys think this was sexist?
I also find it concerning that in this case, it was someone my own age who had such a strong sexist view. I am quite used to hearing casual sexism from older men, especially in the engineering industry. But I find it worrying that someone young can still have such an outdated sexist view.
Sexism has been quite topical in the NZ media recently, with high profile people being called out for casual sexism. For me, the scariest thing about casual sexism is seeing the ignorance of people my own age. If they think I shouldn’t be allowed to swear as a female, what other expectations do they have? After all, isn’t this casual sexism underlining the rape culture in our society?
I would like to say that this is the only time I have been the subject of sexism, but it’s not. I have plenty more stories, some worse than others. I have never been the victim of any violence (thankfully), but I think my experiences are still relevant to the wider sexism debate. Any level of sexism is unacceptable, whether it be casual or violent.
Do you agree with me? Was this casual sexism, or am I being too sensitive?