This is by far the most uncomfortable thing I have ever written, probably because this will be the most vulnerable I have ever been with people, including myself. I am a sexist. It has been a long painful road of denial getting here, but here we are. Recently, walking around my dorm I was scrolling and Twitter and came across a retweet from my mom on my timeline claiming criticism of Gigi Hadid pushing a “fan” who grabbed her was sexist. Immediately, before I even opened the tweet, I thought to myself, “ Really mom? Not EVERYTHING is sexism. Come on.” Then boom! A lightbulb went off in my head! Holy sh*t! This is exactly the same reaction that so many white people, (and unfortunately some Black people), have when they see news and tweets exposing racism. I opened up the tweet and guess what? Gigi Hadid’s critics in the situation WERE being sexist!
There is no way to completely communicate how impactful and important this moment is for me in my development into a decent human being. We all know how the saying goes, ”The first step is admitting you have a problem.” This is the first step in my program. I am admitting that I have been sexist in action and word, and I don’t just need to change, I want to. Admitting you have a problem does not make you a terrible person, we need to understand that. Owning up to sexism is not me saying that I hate women, or that I think women are not equal to men, this is me admitting that as a young man I have been raised in a society that has conditioned my gender to have varying degrees of learned sexism. This is instilled in us through seemingly virtuous things like dress codes for our female classmates in school, being told over and over again that “Boys will be boys”, and insufficient and sometimes non existent sexual education. If we admit that it means that we are ready to get serious about doing and being better. Admitting our bias does not make us any less of a “man,” to the contrary it makes us fuller human beings.
This discussion is more important than ever given the election cycle we currently find ourselves in. Over the last few months it is as if the “lights have been turned on” and the nasty underbelly of our nation's institutionalized sexism is being fully exposed. How many times over the past year have we seen the “Trump That Bitch!” Hillary Sucks Worse than Monica signs? Our nation’s nasty underbelly isn’t just being exposed, it’s being championed! This is all a part of this anti-political correctness that has moved to the forefront of society. Signs at rallies displaying messages such as “Don’t be a p***y vote for Trump”, and “Better to grab a p***y than be one”. Rather than moving further along with eradicating these biases and views from our consciousness, we are moving further and further along, making this type of divisive vitriol mainstream and “acceptable.” It’s time for us to make a change.
I have worked incredibly hard personally to make strides in order to get to the point where I can say that I will never be silenced again in the face of racism and racial biases, but what good is that if I do not apply that same promise to not stay silent when it comes to my own biases? Just like how we need white people to be on the front lines fighting for civil rights in order to truly make substantial, long lasting progress, so too do we need men, ALL men, to stand up in the fight against sexism. Whether it is paying attention to not compliment the women in your life just by letting them know how cute and pretty they are but for their intellect and skills, or when you witness sexism in your life speak out and speak up! It is young men in particular that need to be on the front lines changing this culture. I and all the young men like me, have to hold each other accountable for this and not just accept this social conditioning that so many of us have fallen victim to.
We get so defensive when called out on our biases that we fail to listen, because all our energy is immediately spent trying to prove why it’s not true. If in our whole lives, we never take that breath and look in the mirror when we have our biases called out, we will never evolve. Being challenged on this does not mean someone is always trying to say you are a nasty, racist, sexist, evil person, (this does not apply to you Donald, in your case that is EXACTLY what we are trying to say.). We all have implicit biases just waiting to be unlearned. I’m finally taking that breath and allowing myself not only to be challenged but to be changed. I’m changing my mindset and embracing my role in championing a more inclusive future, I’d encourage you to do the same. We will ALL be better for it.