What is sexism?

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        • What is sexism?

          Linguistic sexism is deeply rooted into the practice of everyday communication, as was insisted at the workshop «What is Sexism?», organized by the Working Christian Youth in Lviv.

          Have you ever been addressed in your workplace as «Beauty» or «Pretty boy»? Is it normal, during work hours, for your colleagues of the opposite sex to pay attention to your looks and not only to your professional qualities?  Is it acceptable if other people state with authority that you are too dressed up?

          The meeting “What is Sexism?” was full of discussions and testimonies with many people there present, relating about the situations that happened to them or to their friends. Primarily, the youth tried to explain, on their own, different terms related to sexism such as «objectification», «slut-shaming», «misogyny», «mansplaining», etc.  Afterwards, they analyzed them in detail «with a dictionary» and shared their impressions.

          Those present were active in discussing phrases, which they repeatedly heard in their life in regards to themselves or to others:

          A singer Ruslana Lyzhychko chops firewood in the Carpathians. SONY DSC

          «As for a woman, she is doing quite well»

          «Compose yourself, you are too emotional»

          «She should be grateful that things didn’t go worse»

          Those present directed their attention to the fact that incorrect expressions are often aimed specifically at women, but, in reality, there are also many stereotypes about men which come out in our speech and behavior.

          Here are some reflections communicated during the meeting.

          At school, for labor lessons, girls and boys, by default, are divided into groups which deal with embroidering, cooking and, respectively, woodcarving. But if a girl would wish to try woodcarving, not every school will allow it. And, vice versa, if there would be a boy wishing to embroider, won’t he be baited for having such an intention by his classmates; will he be allowed to do it by teachers?

          Christopher Yates, who supported his wife’s career growth by keeping the household and writing a novel at home. Photo: Sandy Mangold.

          Ukrainian culture is full of both traditions and stereotypes. A boy, who doesn’t know much about cars, will most likely conceal it, but he may not feel ashamed, while in men’s company, of asserting that all women are bad drivers.

          Yes, we have natural inclinations to professions and occupations in our free time, but they are not always dependent on one’s sex.

          Sexist expressions are based on stereotypes about one or another sex and, in different ways, construct sexual polarization.

          The encounter ended with a lively discussion, between boys and girls, about feminism, even though it was not the direct topic of that evening talk. Boys were questioning what the final point of feminism is, while girls insisted that it consists in access to equal possibilities and in respect towards all of society’s members.

          The organizers promise that, in an upcoming year, they will continue the workshops on topics which are both complicated and important for a clear understanding of young people.


          The social movement «Working Christian Youth» has been active in Lviv since 2007, dealing with the analysis of the situation of young people who work or search for work, and  exploring how work conditions impact the lives of young employees, as well as providing informal youth education.

          Photo: ГармоніяNew York PostTablo ID

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