Can Women Be Sexist? Here's The Breakdown
The Wonder Woman film has finally come to theaters, and many women are especially excited. This is the first movie in a decade to star a female comic book superhero, played by Gal Gadot, and to be directed by a female director, Patty Jenkins.
So you know what all that butt-kicking girl power means, right? Girl's night!
In fact, the Alamo Austin Drafthouse in Texas decided to go big with a women-only screening of the DC Comics movie, in addition to their regular screenings which are open to the public.
Their event page reads,
Apologies, gentlemen, but we're embracing our girl power and saying “No Guys Allowed” for one special night at the Alamo Ritz. And when we say “People Who Identify As Women Only,” we mean it. Everyone working at this screening -- venue staff, projectionist, and culinary team -- will be female.
Guys are upset, claiming that the screening is sexist.
But women and other men are calling out those who are against the screening.
The sexism claim might be a true matter of concern except that women can't be sexist.
Merriam-Webster defines sexism as
1: prejudice or discrimination based on sex; especially : discrimination against women 2: behavior, conditions, or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex
However, the concept of sexism is even broader than that when it comes to how it plays out in actual society.
Since male privilege breeds entitlement, men can be upset about being merely excluded from a screening in Texas.
Meanwhile, women all over the world are excluded from certain pay grades and positions of power and influence. In our current administration, women can't even get invited to political meetings where decisions are being made about women's health care.
Not getting invited to a women's-only film or any other female-centric event doesn't affect the material, day-to-day reality of men, but women are purposefully kept out of the rooms filled with conversations that directly affect their lives and well-being.
We must also consider safety concerns.
Although the women-only screening seems to have been purely for empowerment and fun girl time, let's acknowledge that there are valid safety reasons for why women might prefer to go without the company of men in certain spaces.
Women are subjected to sexual harassment and assault at far higher rates than men. Nine out of every 10 sexual assault victims are women, according to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).
Sixty-five percent of all women, in a survey of 2000, reported that they have experienced street harassment in the forms of touching, being followed or forced into a sexual act, as reported by StopStreetHarassment.org.
In short, society has taught women that the company of men can be rewarding and full of enjoyment, but — depending on the day and the man — can also be a moment of discomfort.
While men are certainly victims of sexual harassment, they do not experience it at the frequency that women do because the world has not been socialized to systematically objectify men. Instead, it has reared men with a privilege that gives them the freedom to target women with minor consequences, if any.
Not having access to a screening hardly compares to a lifestyle of having your own body autonomy and personal safety limited.
Because there is no system in place that oppresses men quite so systematically, the concept of women being sexist for wanting their own space for a bit isn't just unrealistic; it also undermines their experience as the routinely oppressed.
So let's get back to the real issue, here:
If we want to talk about sexism and Wonder Woman, let's talk about why it took this long at all for a superhero film starring a female heroine to hit theaters at all, when there have been several remakes of male comic book characters.
If we're not discussing that, then there's nothing to see here. Move along.