The 5 Most Sexist Events You Pay For
It's become begrudgingly expected to experience or be witness to sexism in everyday life, smacking you in the face seemingly out of nowhere. It's another issue entirely when you find that somehow you managed to actually pay money for the privilege. In order to aid you in keeping your money from becoming a means to someone else's (or your own) discrimination, minimization, or stereotyping, here is a list of five places your dollars could end up that aren't necessarily the most wonderful use of your hard earned cash.
1. A Ticket to a Lingerie Football League Game
Though the Lingerie Football League is an opportunity for athletic women to participate in an NFL like atmosphere, the chance to play football comes with an egregiously sexist cost that you should think twice before supporting yourself.
Described by the League's media director Stephon McMillen in an article from the Kent Reporter as a "complement to the NFL" where women must be both beautiful and athletically talented in order to be part of the team, the most blatantly sexist piece of the puzzle is the uniforms of the players.
The uniforms and the title of the League itself speak to athleticism and skill as a secondary aspect of the sport. The audience is reinforced that the role of women is still primarily to be beautiful and to be compelled to display their bodies for the viewers' judgement along with performing exceptionally in a very competitive and dangerous sport.
2. The British Ruby Conference
Or any conference that finds their list of panelists to be completely white and male, is probably to be avoided. The 2013 Brit Ruby conference for Ruby programmers was cancelled due to watchdog tweeters calling out conference organizer Sean Handley on compiling a panel of speakers that were entirely white and male.
There is a recognized dirth of representation and participation of people of color and women in Information Technology and Programming. This is less to do with a lack of interest or skill and more a product of systemic racism and sexism still very much alive in society that creates barriers to success for individuals of color and women in these fields. Even with these barriers to involvement, by no means are successful women or people of color elusive unicorns. They exist and they have fresh perspectives, ideas, and knowledge that can contribute to conferences like Brit Ruby.
Laura Beck says it perfectly in Jezebel writing that, "until there's more representation of successful programmers who aren't white and male, there's gonna have to be more outreach, more effort, more leg work. It's imperative to get more women and people of color in the spotlight because that inclusion will breed accessibility." So before you find your money going to attend such a conference, think about all the voices you could be missing out on because diversity took a back-burner to ease of planning.
3. The Mainstream Movies
Anita Sarkeesian over at Feminist Frequency does an amazing job applying the Bechdel Test to Hollywood in order to show how in paying for a movie ticket, you're most likely going to be paying for a reaffirmation of the patriarchal world you live in.
The Bechdel Test is used in order to measure women's participation and representation at a very basic level in media. The three parameters by which it measures are whether a film has at least two female characters in it, if these characters have have names, and whether or not they speak to each other about something other than a man.
It is a bar set extremely low when you think of how many movies there are and how many minutes make up just one film. And yet a huge portion of films fail the test, showing that Hollywood is content to mimic society in its reproduction of a male-centered world and male-centered story lines.
To amend this issue, we need to see more women's stories being told (which shouldn't be too hard with us making up just over half the population) and we need to see more women in positions of power within the media industry advocating for those stories to make it to film. In the mean time, you can seek out and support independent film projects and even major blockbusters that work to tell more meaningful stories about women and their lives.
4. Your Regular Gynecological Visit
In a world where sexism, homophobia, racism, ageism, etc. tend to be intertwined, shelling out money for your next visit to you ob/gyn if you're a queer woman can be one of the more sexist experiences of your day. Illustrated by Natalie over at Autostraddle, queer women often find that anything other than heterosexuality is going to be problematic for some ob/gyn practices.
With all the focus on getting pregnant, not getting pregnant, and STDs transferred primarily via heterosexual sex, the gynecologist is often an oppressive place for varying sexual identities (as questions are left unanswered, unasked, and differing sexual practices minimized and judged). Thankfully Natalie offers up some tools to find queer friendly ob/gyn practices in her work. But it stands as a stark reminder that the medical world even in its removed scientific ways can be impacted by society much like everything else and become a potentially sexist environment.
5. A Friday Night Visit to a "Gay" Bar
It's a special thing to be a queer woman on the hunt for a good gay bar to frequent. Often lamented is the huge amount of sexism experienced by women when they go to gay bars. These bars tend to feel almost exclusively like places for gay men, leaving queer women with slim pickings for their patronage. Zach Stafford writing for Huffington Post paints the all too common picture of discrimination in action with a personal account of a visit to a gay bar and the hateful treatment experienced by a group of lesbians.
Simply because individuals identifying as part of the LGBTQ community have experienced prejudice and discrimination does not mean they are immune from being prejudiced themselves. The folks at Autostraddle have seen this sort of sexism in action and have some handy city guides to help people find the most welcoming spaces in their hometowns.
In a patriarchal world there's no doubt that sexism will hide in some of the most unsuspecting places and in plain sight, but we can do our best to speak out when we see it and to attempt to not unsuspectingly pay for it.