Sexism is commonly considered to be discrimination and/or hatred towards people based on their sex rather than their individual merits, but can also refer to any and all systemic differentiations based on the sex of the individuals.

Sexism can refer to subtly different beliefs or attitudes: the belief that one gender or sex is inferior to or more valuable than the other (male and female chauvinism); hatred or distrust towards the opposite or same sex as a whole (misogyny and misandry); imposing stereotypes of masculinity on males or femininity on females.

Generalization and partition

Sexist beliefs, as a part of essentialism, holds that individuals can be understood or judged based solely on the characteristics of the group to which they belong—in this case, their sexual group, as males or females. This assumes that all individuals fit into the category of male or female and does not take into account intersexed people who are born with a mixture of male and female sexual characteristics. This also assumes in the characteristics of all males and all females respectively, and does not take into account any differences that may exist within a group. Additionally, there are XY males and XX females who are genetically one sex but have developed sexual characteristics of another sex at the foetal stage.

Certain forms of sexual discrimination are illegal in many countries, but nearly all countries have laws that give special rights, privileges, or responsibilities to one sex or two sexes.

sex condition of hatred fears discriminatory anti-discriminatory
discrimination of movement of
female ? femininity misogyny gynophobia gynocentrism feminism
male ? masculinity misandry androphobia androcentrism masculism
intersex intersexuality misandrogyny androgynophobia LGBTIQ
transsex transsexuality transphobia LBGT

Sexism against females

The term 'sexism', in common usage, is viewed by many to imply sexism against females. This form is often called male chauvinism - the view that men are superior to women is one form of sexism. Related terms are misogyny and '''', which refer to the hated and fear of females or feminity.

Historically, in many patriarchal societies, females have been and are viewed as the "weaker sex". Women's lower status can be seen in cases in which females were not even recognized as persons under the law of the land. The feminist movement promotes women's rights to end sexism against females by addressing issues such as equality under the law, political representation of females, access to education and employment, female victims of domestic violence, self-ownership of the female body, and the impact of pornography on women.

Sexism against males

The view that women are superior to men is also a form of sexism. Sexism against males has been referred to as "reverse sexism." Suedfeld criticizes this label, stating that discrimination against men is sexist, and that the reverse of discrimination is nondiscrimination. Androphobia refers to the fear of males or masculinity.

As part of a 2006 survey for an international study of female students, 60% of 200 women at a Glasgow university said it was acceptable for women to hit their husbands, while 35% admitted assaulting their partner. Eight percent admitted injuring their partners, the highest rate in the study, which involved 36 universities.

Transsexuality (also known as transgender) is a complex condition that is defined differently by different people. Transphobia refers to discrimination against transsexuality and transsexual or transgender people, based on the expression of their internal gender identity (see Phobia - terms indicating prejudice or class discrimination). Whether intentional or not, transphobia can have severe consequences for the object of the negative attitude. The LGBT movement has actively fought sexism against transexes. The most typical forms of sexism against transsexuals are how many "women-only" and "men-only" events and organizations have been criticized for rejecting transfemales, and transmales respectively.

Sexism and sexual expression

The expression of sexual intimacy is a part of the human condition. However, various aspects of human sexuality have been argued as having contributed to sexism.

The Sexual Revolution

During the sexual revolution, there was a change in the cultural perception of sexual morality and sexual behavior. The sexual revolution has been known as the sexual liberation by feminists since some saw this new development in the West as a leveling ground for females to have as many choices concerning their sexuality as males--hoping to elliminate the problematic virgin/whore dichotomy of traditional Western society.

Modern feminists like Ariel Levy have warned that the current state of commercial sexuality has created a "Raunch Culture". This cultural development, (which has largely occurred in the West) the commercialization of the sexual objectification of females, has been criticized as being limiting for men and women. Rather than being liberating, some feminists argue that the "pornification" of Western society has reduced and equated the scope of feminine power to sexual power only. Some feminists argue that females are themselves objectifying other females by becoming producers and promoters of the "Raunch Culture".

Some masculist theorists posit that prior to the sexual revolution the idealized male was expected to be virile while the idealized female was expected to be modest. They note that after the sexual revolution, females were given more liberty to express virility while the reverse has not been true for males, who have yet to be given a choice to be non-virile. They argued that the dual identity of hypersexuality and asexuality is a luxury and special status that only exists for females. However, many feminists believe that this dual identity rather allows males to condemn a female for her sexuality for being either modest or virile (see double standard).


Some individuals express the view that pornography is contributing to sexism, because in usual pornographic performances for male spectators the actresses are sexually objectified. The narrative is formed around male pleasure as the only goal of sexual activity. The German feminist Alice Schwarzer is one representative of this point of view. She has brought this topic up repeatedly since the 1970s, in particular in the feminist magazine Emma. The reverse, where female spectators are objectifying male actors, has also been identified as sexism.

On the other hand, some famous pornographic actresses such as Teresa Orlowski and Tímea Vágvölgyi have publicly stated that they do not feel themselves to be victims of sexism against females. In fact, many female pornographic stars and sex-positive feminists view pornography to be progressive, since they are paid money for performing consensual acts, and also since many directors and managers of the industry are women as well. Porn positive feminists often support their position by pointing out the situation of women in countries with strict pornography laws (ie Saudi Arabia) versus women in countries with liberal pornography laws (ie the Netherlands). This does not however take into account that even though the women taking part in pornography choose to do so in large part because they are given money for it, they will still be seen as sexual trade objects by the viewers and consumers of pornography. Many anti-pornography supporters also believe that pornography gives a distorted view of men and women's bodies, as well as the actual sexual act, often showing the performers with synthetic implants or exaggerative, fake moans of pleasure. Many pornographic films also show the woman as being extremely passive, or performing degrading acts solely for the pleasure of their sexual partner, and the viewer.

Those advocating against pornography often fail to take homosexual pornography into account. The same arguments used against heterosexual pornography could be adapted to homosexual pornography. If it assumed that watching pornography inherently involves objectifying the actors and that objectifying someone is a form of sexism, than homosexuals who watch homosexual pornography would also be guilty of sexism against their own gender. Many people find this argument absurd and falsely believe that this indicates that the arguments used against heterosexual pornography are unsound. Of course not all advocates against pornography make the argument that objectification only equals sexism and vice versa. Many uphold the view that pornography can be objectifying without the viewer necessarily being sexist against members of their own sex.

Still other feminists, outside of the porn-positive feminism and anti-pornography feminism, feared that censoring profit-oriented pornography would lead to censoring legitimate non-profit female expression of their sexual experience. This is because historically, indecency acts in various countries had, in the past, been used to censor sexual educations, which are vital to the sexual independence of females and females taking ownership of the decisions over their bodies. Thus two independent matters get regrettably entangled.

Occupational sexism

Occupational sexism refers to any discriminatory practices, statements, actions, etc. based on a person's sex that are present or occur in a place of employment. One form of occupational sexism is wage discrimination, which is prohibited in the US.

Gender gap (or gender wage gap) is a term that refers to differences that exist in pay between men and women . The gender gap constitutes a well-documented, but highly disputed phenomenon. Though there is little debate as to whether or not women earn less than men do, the exact amount of womens' earnings in comparison to men's is debated. According to the National Committee on Pay Equity, in 2006 women earned 76.9% of what men earned (based on US Census figures of median earnings of full-time, year-round workers). They state that African-American women earn 71.8% of what all men earn, and that Latina women earn 59.6% of what all men earn. These and similar figures have been challenged by a number of critics for being too low. In 1999, Wall stated: "Because the average woman works fewer hours per week than the average man, defining the wage gap in terms of weekly earnings, as the Department of Labor usually does, inflates the wage gap artificially." He stated that in 1999, women earned an hourly income that was equal to 83.8% of that of men. Blau et al. state that the gender pay gap in the United States is larger than in most other industrialized countries.

Sexual discrimination and law

Sex discrimination is discrimination based on sex. Currently, discrimination because of sex is defined as adverse action against another person, that would not have occurred had the person been of another sex. This is considered a form of prejudice and is illegal in certain enumerated circumstances throughout most countries.

There are many types of sexual discrimination depending on the environment. For instance in the employment settings one can claim that an employer had asked discriminatory questions during his or her interview process, an employer did not hire, promote or wrongfully terminated an employee based on his or her gender, plus employers can pay unequally based on gender and sexually harass an employee. In the Education setting there could be claims that a student was excluded from an educational program or opportunity due to his or her gender and a student can be sexually harassed. In the housing setting there could be claims that a person was refused negotiations on seeking a house, contracting/leasing a house or getting a loan based on his or her gender. Another setting where there is usually gender discrimination is when one is refused to extend his or her credit, refused approval of credit/loan process, and if there is a burden of unequal loan terms based on one's gender.


Hong Kong United Kingdom United States Notable U.S. laws regarding discrimination based upon sex in the U.S. include the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibits wage discrimination by employers and labor organizations based on sex, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which broadly prohibits discrimination in the workplace including hiring, firing, workforce reduction, benefits, and sexually harassing conduct. U.S. law has also included discrimination based upon pregnancy in the workplace as discrimination based upon sex with the Pregnancy Discrimination Act embodied in the Civil Rights Act of 1991.

See also

External links

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