Everyday Sexism: How Misogyny Hurts Us All

woman with stop hand outThe effects of discrimination can be devastating. Sexual violence, such as rape, increases the likelihood of experiencing posttraumatic stress, and the gender pay gap prevents women from earning what they’re worth. Elliot Rodger’s horrific shooting spree was allegedly due to his anger at women who would not have sex with him.

While this sort of misogyny is extreme, many women experience other forms of sexism every day. In response to Rodger’s sexist rants, women used the Twitter hashtag #YesAllWomen to tell their stories of everyday sexism. These stories aren’t just anecdotes. A mountain of data supports the claim that sexism still harms both women and men.

Rape Is Commonplace

While rape and any type of sexual abuse or assault are some of the most traumatic experiences imaginable, it’s also one of the most common. One in five women reported being raped in one survey, and other rape surveys have found rape rates varying from one in three to one in six women. Most of these rape victims never see justice. The Rape Assault and Incest National Network found that 60% of rapes are never reported to the police, and that 97% of rapists never serve time in jail. Only 37% of reported rape cases are ever prosecuted.

Domestic Violence Is Also Common

We’ve all seen public service campaigns encouraging us to report violence against women, and statistics show that these campaigns are warranted. One in four women will be a survivor of domestic violence at least once in her life. While all violence is wrong and women do sometimes behave violently toward men, women are still clearly more represented among those who have experienced domestic violence. Eighty-five percent of people who experience domestic violence are female, and most never report the crime.

Sex Trafficking Continues in the United States

Sex slavery is a crime that we commonly associate with other countries and with impoverished immigrants. Women are 85% of sex trafficking victims, and 41% of American sex trafficking victims are U.S. citizens. These people, who are overwhelmingly women, endure daily rape and violence, and may spend years trapped in the trade.

Sexual Harassment Is a Daily Experience for Many Women

Studies routinely find high rates of street harassment, and one found that 100% of women reported at least one instance of street harassment. Another study found that 51% of women had experienced extreme harassment, such as being grabbed by a stranger.

Street harassment isn’t flirtation or a simple compliment. Women regularly report obscene comments, and when they don’t respond, they’re often insulted or threatened. Some street harassment is insulting, calling women gendered slurs or insulting their appearance. In her documentary on street harassment, filmmaker Maggie Hadleigh-West documents her own harassment, and confronts harassers about their behavior. Some of them turned violent, attempting to smash her camera or attack her.

Women Are Paid Less Than Men for the Same Work

Women routinely earn less money than men. In 2012, women earned between 75 and 80 cents for every dollar a man earned. The reasons for this are complex. Sometimes women choose less lucrative careers because of social pressures to care for children or because of stereotypes that say women can’t excel at careers in science, technology, and math. But the wage gap isn’t due just to women’s choices or to social pressures.

One year out of school, when women haven’t had time to be penalized for having children or taking time off, the American Association of University Women found that women women earn 77 cents for every man’s dollar—even when they perform the same jobs. These numbers can’t be attributed to differences in interaction styles or women’s decisions not to ask for raises. According to one recent study, when women know that pay is negotiable, they’re actually more likely to negotiate for raises than men.

Getting Help

People who have experienced discrimination and sexism may experience emotional and/or psychological pain as a result of their victimization. Working with a counselor or therapist can be one way to safely find help and guidance. Some women also find strength and allies in support groups, friends, and family members.

Additionally, perpetrators of abuse, violence, or discrimination who wish to change their harmful thought patterns or behaviors may find it helpful to do so with the support of a mental health professional. Therapists are trained to help a person face difficult aspects of his or her psyche or alter unwanted behavior patterns in a confidential environment.

References:

  1. Domestic violence facts [PDF]. (n.d.). National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
  2. Domestic violence: Statistics and facts. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.safehorizon.org/index/what-we-do-2/domestic-violence–abuse-53/domestic-violence-statistics–facts-195.html
  3. Dwoskin, E. (2012, October 25). Why women earn less than men a year out of school. Retrieved from http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-10-25/why-women-earn-less-than-men-a-year-out-of-school
  4. Human trafficking trends in the United States. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.polarisproject.org/resources/hotline-statistics/human-trafficking-trends-in-the-united-states
  5. Leibbrant, A., & List, J. A. (2012, November). Do women avoid salary negotiations? Retrieved from http://www.nber.org/papers/w18511
  6. Rabin, R. C. (2011, December 14). Nearly 1 in 5 women in U.S. survey say they have been sexually assaulted. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/15/health/nearly-1-in-5-women-in-us-survey-report-sexual-assault.html?_r=0
  7. Sexual assault statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.oneinfourusa.org/statistics.php
  8. Statistics. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.rainn.org/statistics
  9. Statistics – academic and community studies. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.stopstreetharassment.org/resources/statistics/statistics-academic-studies/
  10. The simple truth about the gender pay gap. (2014, March 10). Retrieved from http://www.aauw.org/research/the-simple-truth-about-the-gender-pay-gap/
  11. Top ten [PDF]. (2011). Lexington: University of Kentucky Center for Research On Violence Against Women.

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  • Curtis G

    Curtis G

    June 2nd, 2014 at 3:45 AM

    I guess I will chalk this up to being a guy and in some ways very clueless about the things that women have to deal with everyday, you could still say that I am stunned when I read these numbers. As a younger man this wouldn’t have impacted me quite as much because I didn’t have a wife and I didn’t have daughters; but now that I have both it makes me angry to think about how easy I have had it in my own life but that they likley will encounter some form of abuse or discrmination all for being a female. Maybe I am turning all feminist here, but thsi makes me pretty mad and I guess helps me understand a little better what all of the fuss has been about for all these years.

  • Carolee

    Carolee

    June 2nd, 2014 at 3:06 PM

    97% of rapists never spend any time in prison?!?
    Are you kidding me?
    How is it even possible that a society like ours even allows this to be the reality of the criminal justice system?!

  • Isabelle H

    Isabelle H

    June 3rd, 2014 at 3:48 AM

    This Elliot Rodgers’ parents must be so dismayed that their child could carry out a criminal act such as this and I am sure that they are probably wondering what they could have done differently to prevent this from happening. But I think that for some people there was nothing that could have been done differently, they have chosen to turn every rejection in their lives into something negative instead of choosing to learn from it and this is the outcome that we then have. Whether he was angry at women or just angry at the world, this kid needed help, and obviously he never got the kind of help that he needed to prevent this heinous crime.

  • janna

    janna

    June 4th, 2014 at 3:55 PM

    All of these stats really astound me. Especially the one about- well, no I can’t pick out one that that shocks me the most. They are all equally terrible.

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