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  • Sara Schwartz, AAHS

Misogyny in Everyday Life

“If girls want to be treated equally, that means men wouldn’t buy them expensive things.”

“Since when are women guaranteed free stuff?”

“Well, if they’re hot.”

This was a conversation with my cis male coworker about a week ago. He believes that legs should be shaved and tummies should be flat, and thus, I’ve written for you the ordinary person’s guide to sexism and misogyny in daily life.

Let’s unpack this. According to this guy, women—”hot” women, that is—should not be upset about their mistreatment because then they would not receive the “privilege” of gifts. Women that he doesn’t find attractive don’t make a difference to him; these women shouldn’t be upset about inequality because they simply don’t matter. He is evaluating a woman’s value based solely on their appearance. Now, let’s be clear: everyone should be upset about gender-based inequalities, not just women because a patriarchal society affects us all.

Now you wonder, how in the world could the patriarchy negatively affect men? According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in 2020, men died of suicide almost four times as many as women, and there’s an important reason for this. We teach boys to be strong, and smart, and to lack emotion. Phrases like “man up” and “boys will be boys” perpetuate the reality that they don’t have to be held accountable for their actions, as long as they never cry or show weakness.

Let’s start at the beginning of time, shall we? In many ancient societies, daughters were killed and sons were praised, right at birth (Jimmerson). In many countries today, such as India, pregnant women worry that their babies will be girls in fear of them being put to death (Vaze). Sons were sent to school, sent to battle, and sent to make money. Daughters were given dolls to play with and table manners to learn. Even now, some of these manners appear—like when I’m told to “sit like a lady.” Being a woman means that I must sit gracefully, legs crossed and mouth zipped.

It is in human nature to learn by imitation. This is why proper parenting during a child’s early years is so important. In many stores, when one shops for children’s toys, there are often two distinct sections: boys and girls. Little boys get to pick from monster trucks, spaceships, trains, and dinosaurs. Little girls get stuffed animals, dolls, and pretend kitchens. From a young age, women are taught to stay at home and nurture, while men are taught to indulge their interests and discover new things (Blakemore). As adults, women are always expected to be married and have kids. (Gant). This is clear from questions like, “When’s the big day?” and “When do you think you’ll have kids? How many do you want?” It seems as if every young girl’s destiny must be marriage and motherhood.

As we grow up, we are subjected to and become accustomed to these misogynistic concepts. Boys are taught to befriend other boys and to be smart and strong. They play rough, and make fun of their friends with phrases like “You throw like a girl!” The fact that we use this phrase with a negative connotation shows what we are teaching boys about girls. Boys then gain the burden of always having to be better, stronger, smarter, and more talented than girls, which can later lead to insecurity and toxic masculinity.

Another harmful concept encouraged by society is the school dress code, which often perpetuates toxic and sexist norms toward female students (Zhou). At UCVTS, we do not have gender-specific restrictions, but it is a problem at many schools around the world. If a girl was to wear a skirt that was above her fingertips, what horrible thing would happen? Maybe boys could be aroused, although I doubt it. If boys cannot contain themselves during lessons, then that’s on them. A girl’s self-expression should not be stifled because we’re worried about boys’ lack of self-control.

Even in adulthood, women face the same preconceptions. Almost everything about traditional weddings is inherently misogynistic. The entire concept of marriage was to transfer the ownership of women from father to husband. Young girls are the property of their fathers, and then they become the property of their husbands. They take the surname of their father, and then that of their husband. In addition, if the couple is to have children, their last names are that of their father. A woman’s entire title, label, and name as a person, are dependent on whether or not they are married. “Miss or Mrs.”? A man’s title has no chains to his marital status because men are viewed as independent people.

Fathers often try to find acceptable suitors for their daughters, but this comes at a cost. An acceptable wife is always hairless, refined, quiet, and trusting. The white wedding dress is to represent the woman’s purity, and virginity because they are seen as dirty, which is subsequently unworthy if they’ve had sex before marriage. The double standards are prevalent—after a girl has sex, they are often shamed and seen as a disappointment. However, when a boy has sex, they are typically praised and celebrated (Endendijk et al.).

When it comes to sex, the large majority of preconceptions are misinformation. People often believe that men should be dominant while women should be submissive and obedient. Women are supposed to be skinny, clean, smooth, soft, and beautiful. These standards are ever-present in fashion and photography communities, but they can be seen everywhere, especially on social media. Women can feel as if they don’t live up to these impossible beauty standards, they are undeserving and not good enough.

One important example here is body hair. As homo-sapiens, all humans grow body hair in various parts of the body. Hair can be found on heads, under chins, and on arms and legs. If this is natural, why is the female beauty standard hairless legs? Well, it began in World War II. While the men were fighting, razor companies advertised to women at home that they should shave so they could be “sexy” and “beautiful” when their husbands came home. The beauty industry took advantage of women’s confidence to make more profit. (Edwards).

In addition to consumer manipulation, the markets pressure women into buying more expensive products—the pink tax. The pink tax represents how the costs of the same product are different for men and women, and razors are a perfect example. It was found that although the products are essentially the same, women’s razors are marketed at a price 66% higher than men’s (Chang and Lipner). Products marketed toward women are more poise and much more expensive than those for men, undermining women’s buying power (Maloney).

In a healthy heterosexual relationship, the woman often deeply values the feeling of safety around their partner. (Lynn). The reason for this is that men tend to make us feel unsafe in the world, especially when it comes to walking home alone. It has been shown that over 80% of women experience sexual harassment in their lifetime. (Chatterjee). Men can stare and drool like hungry sharks on chum. This makes women feel like objects, or like some kind of desired prize, and we lose a little bit of our personhood each time it happens.

“You should smile more, hon.”

Want me to smile? Say something funny.

Often women are afraid to speak up because they feel they will be shot down, or perhaps they don’t want to risk it, which is completely understandable. When we try to speak up, we often hear that we’re just being dramatic and emotional. These undermining words are used to belittle us and our opinions, to tell us that it doesn’t matter what we think. Additionally, when we’re explaining objective facts, men try to tell us that they know better even if they’re totally wrong. They feel they can do that just because they’re men; this is known as mansplaining. This is when a man tries to explain something to a woman in a way that is condescending, overconfident, and often completely incorrect. Women experience misogyny throughout their lives, sometimes in the form of mansplaining from male colleagues.

In my experiences as a woman, I can see that a patriarchal society affects us all. It makes men feel like they will never feel man enough, making women feel inadequate. To be a true advocate for change, education is the first step, so thank you for taking that first step.

Works Cited:

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “Suicide Statistics.” American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 2022,

Blakemore, Judith. “What the Research Says: Gender-Typed Toys | NAEYC.”, 2019,

Chang, Michelle J., and Shari R. Lipner. “Gender-Based Stereotyping and Cost Discrepancies for Razors.” International Journal of Women’s Dermatology, Feb. 2021,

Chatterjee, Rhitu. “A New Survey Finds Eighty Percent of Women Have Experienced Sexual Harassment.” NPR, 21 Feb. 2018,

Edwards, Phil. “How the Beauty Industry Convinced Women to Shave Their Legs.” Vox, 22 May 2015,

Endendijk, Joyce J., et al. “He Is a Stud, She Is a Slut! A Meta-Analysis on the Continued Existence of Sexual Double Standards.” Personality and Social Psychology Review, vol. 24, no. 2, Dec. 2019, pp. 163–90,

Gant, Michelle. “Young Women across the Globe Share the Pressure They Face to Get Married and Have Kids.” Upworthy, 12 July 2019,

Jimmerson, Julie. “Female Infanticide in China: An Examination of Cultural and Legal Norms.” UCLA Pacific Basin Law Journal, vol. 8, no. 1, 1990,

Lynn, Julie. “The 14 Things She Needs from You to Feel Safe.” Medium, 19 Aug. 2021,

Maloney, Carolyn. The Pink Tax--How Gender-Based Pricing Hurts Women’s Buying Power. Joint Economic Committee, Dec. 2016,

Vaze, Sonia. “Un-Natural Selection: Female Feticide in India.”, 2021,

Zhou, Li. “The Sexism of School Dress Codes.” The Atlantic, 21 Oct. 2015,

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