Everyday Sexism — Sexism at Home

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Un-gendering domestic rules and responsibilities.

Institutional sexism is the sexism and misogyny that is built into the systems and norms of society. It exists in the way we approach the different genders, and it contributes to the building of a patriarchal world.

It creeps up even closer than we want it to be. Sexism at home exists when misogyny is perpetuated and normalised by the household environment. The family is the first institution we are introduced to, and often it is rife with sexist assumptions that are thrust upon children, flattening their individualities to fit into limiting gender roles. These early formative years are often infused with gender-based stereotypes, which are harmful to all genders. This is especially harmful for girl children who are made to grow up faster, give up their education, and take upon themselves a disproportionate amount of the household burden at an earlier age. When misogyny is normalised at home, it makes it much harder to recognise and fight against patriarchy in wider structures, outside. Girls are taught early on to believe that they are less important than the males in their family, these lessons of inferiority are ingrained in them from a young age. This has an adverse effect on male children as well as they also face these stereotypes and assumptions of gender expectations, both of themselves and other seemingly inferior genders. Additionally, as household work is seen as unpaid and subsequently not valued as much, girls who are related to this realm are made to feel worthless. These early gender-based divisions adversely influence children who grow up to re-create these toxic cycles and unequal burdens as adults as well.

The idea of sexism at home is difficult to tackle as it makes us ask uncomfortable questions about prejudices and behaviours of ourselves and our family members. When sexism is introduced by a structure that is meant to nurture and support people, it can be especially damaging. Knowing that gendered stereotypes are often forced upon children before they are even born, the scale of wider systemic misogyny becomes more daunting, and the idea of dismantling it even more difficult.

A glimmer of hope can, however, be found in the fact that sexism at home is not universal, and many families are parenting with feminist, inclusive ideals that recognise the individuality in children and the harm that comes from putting them in a pre-determined box. The media, often (rightly so) accused of perpetuating these stereotypes, is also in certain ways, breaking away from these divisive norms.

Advertisements and social media campaigns such as Ariel India’s #ShareTheLoad where a father, sees his grown-up daughter struggle with office and housework without the help of her husband and realises his complicity in the cycle as he never helped out his own wife as well. He acknowledges attempts to make amends by sharing the burden with his wife in his old age. These campaigns serve as conversation starters on equal responsibilities in raising a family, and are a step towards the road to the un-gendering of domestic work and seeing it as an important aspect of survival to be learnt and shared by all.

Additionally, it is important to build an inclusive environment, before patriarchal norms get cemented in the minds of children, and this can be done through supporting NGOs that work towards educating the girl child as through education comes empowerment and opportunities that go beyond the private household domain.

 

Feature Image Credit: Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

 

Devina Buckshee is the National Lead (Gender Justice) at One Future Collective and tweets @DevinaB21.

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Concern Over The Transgender Rights Bill, 2017

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The Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry, however, has decided to re-introduce the first version of the Bill, without the subsequent amendments.

Recently, we had reported on the progress made under the National Legal Services Authority or NALSA judgment and what effects it had on the transgender community. Although flawed, it did present a clear understanding of the limitations of looking at genders through a binary, and understood that transgender people existed in a wider spectrum. The new bill has come under fire for its dated definition of ‘transgender’. It reinforces common misinformation by equating transgender people as people who identify as part male and part female (thus reinforcing the binary as well). This proposed definition violates the dignity, equality, and autonomy of transgender persons guaranteed under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution, a parliamentary committee report that challenges the Bill states.

While this Bill does want to protect transgender people, it fails to identify them correctly and wants to introduce a new ID for them. This ID would enable them to avail benefits, but as previous reports showed, the process of getting an ID was mired with discrimination at every step. Conversely, the Bill categorically prohibits discrimination against transgender people, but fails to account for a definition of ‘discrimination’, or any potential compensation to be offered to the survivor of harassment. The parliamentary committee had addressed this issue for revisions, and had wanted to include policies against workplace sexual harassment for transgender people as well, but this too has been ignored. Additionally, issuing reservations for transgender people that were promised under NALSA, was not re-introduced in the new Bill.

In failing to adhere to suggestions for improvements, the central government has missed a vital opportunity to create the space for transgender liberation and inclusion into mainstream society.

Devina Buckshee is the National Lead (Gender Justice) at One Future Collective.

Featured image: Human Rights Watch

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