This Notion Called Reverse Sexism Cannot And Does Not Exist

One of the main arguments I hear against feminism is that it promotes reverse sexism or that this whole movement or idea is “sexist towards men”. Now, these arguments come from people who do not understand how oppression works and from people who believe that feminism is about ‘hating men’. Let me begin by saying that reverse sexism does not and cannot exist.

I will start by explaining the concept of systematic oppression. On a very basic and simple level, we can state that systemic oppression is when society has normalized and engages in, over a long period of time, unjust treatment towards a specific person or group based on gender, sex, race, class, caste, ability and sexual orientation.

It is called systematic or institutionalized because it’s methodical. It is based on a system of societal norms, functions, and activities, coming together to oppress one whole social group. Institutional oppression happens when laws, customs and practices cause inequality based on social groups.

Also, oppression flows in one direction only, from the oppressor to the oppressed. It is about the oppressor being in a great social power than the oppressed. Women are not in a socially higher position than men, and hence, it not possible for women to oppress men. As long as men are the dominant group, they can’t be victims of sexism.

Many people give the dictionary definition of sexism which goes like, “discrimination on the basis of one’s sex”. This simply implies that both men and women can be sexist towards each other. What we don’t seem to realize is that the complex concept of female oppression and sexism cannot be discussed in one sentence.

oppression flows in one direction only, from the oppressor to the oppressed.

Women can, as Melissa A. Fabello writes in her essay, Why Reverse Oppression Simply Cannot Exist, make stereotypical assumptions about men, they can be prejudiced towards men, they can discriminate against men based on those prejudices. But women simply cannot be sexist towards men. Their assumptions or prejudices about men do not give them a higher social position and nor is it based on years of oppression.

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This does not mean that prejudice or discrimination against men is morally correct or justified. Nor is it a solution to sexism. However, the concept of sexism is based on the fact that there exists a diverse social arrangement that privileges men over women and enables their automatic access to intellectual, material and spiritual resources. In simple words, these basic resources are something women have to fight for, whereas, they are more or less given to men.

Related to this is another concept that sexism benefits men. The whole concept is about men having it ‘easier’ (although that is the wrong use words). Garda Lerner in her study The Creation of Patriarchy has argued that patriarchal society was an important precondition of slavery.

Humans first introduced permanent inequalities in their society by establishing unequal gender relations. The subjugation of women provided the model for subjugating fellow human beings. Now, these permanent inequalities were established to gain control over another social class or group so that the group or class that is acting as the oppressor can benefit from it. That is the whole point of oppression.

Also Read: Why Do Women Living Feminist Lives Have A Problem With The Feminist Tag?

This is one of the fundamental reason that why women cannot be “sexist towards men”. Keeping in mind all the prejudiced notions that women have about men, women do not benefit from these notions. They do not put women on a higher social pedestal than men. Women do not get the upper hand while it comes to obtaining material or intellectual dominance or superiority in society.

However, the whole rejection of reverse sexism does not mean that men are not victims of sexism or patriarchy. We all are. There are unfair expectations and pressures on men in our society as a result of patriarchy.

It is a well-established fact that not all men are powerful or oppressive in a patriarchal society – men from non-dominant communities, gay men, men who are seen as ‘feminine’, and men who covet and desire femininity. This also encompasses the reality that the institution of sexism has constructed a standard of what ‘masculanity’ is and men who do not come under this narrow definition of it are discriminated against.

In spite of all this, men are not culturally, politically, socially or economically oppressed by women. The fact remains that all men can and do lay claims to resources and power far more easily than the women in their society or communities.

rejection of reverse sexism does not mean that men are not victims of sexism or patriarchy.

For example, gay men are highly discriminated against and looked down upon. But as long as they do not defiantly display their sexuality, they continue to enjoy access to masculine and public spheres of influence and power. On the other hand, lesbians are oppressed not only because of their sexuality but also because of their gender. Here oppression works on two different levels.

One last argument that people give against feminism is that if doesn’t promote misandry than why is it called ‘feminsim’ and not just simply ‘equality’? Obviously, equality is important and as human beings, everyone deserves it.

However, there are particular things that happen to me because I am a woman, not because I am a human being. By calling it a movement for equality, we are disregarding the struggles that women face on a day to day basis, because of their gender only and no other factor.

This does not imply that other factors of oppression and discrimination are not important, but they are not gender specific. Feminism highlights the basic idea behind the struggle for women’s rights, as it acknowledges the gender-based prejudices that exist in our society.

In conclusion, I will like to add that sexism is when a certain gender or sex is systematically oppressed and discriminated against to the point that the oppressors have a dominant position in society, from where they can handle and manipulate the resources present in society. Hence, the notion of reverse sexism cannot exist in society.

Also Read: Why Call It Feminism, As Opposed To Humanism Or Egalitarianism?

Featured Image Credit: Art by Tatsuya Ishida (via Feminist Current)

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  1. >However, the concept of sexism is based on the fact that there exists a diverse social arrangement that privileges men over women and enables their automatic access to intellectual, material and spiritual resources. In simple words, these basic resources are something women have to fight for, whereas, they are more or less given to men.

    Can you tell me where I can get these? See, when I was raped by a woman, no one gave me any resources. In fact they laughed in my face. Spiritually I was blamed for getting raped because no one would believe it was rape. Intellectuals spit on me and told me it wasn’t the same. And when I sought out material help from the police, they laughed in my face.

    When my brother was beaten by his wife, the intellectuals said he was probably at fault, despite never striking her, because women’s violence is self defense. Materially, domestic violence organizations denied him any help whatsoever, accusing him of being the abuser. Spiritually, there was no help available to him.

    So where are all these resources that we can be given? One wants to know.

  2. This whole article is based on a definition of sexism that only applies on an institutional level. It’s a more specific example of the base definition, but the original still stands. Saying that it doesn’t simply because someone came up with a different definition is straight up dumb. I mean you have basically come up with your own definition of something and now claim that everyone else is wrong because you say so. Besides, I find this whole “You can be prejudiced but not sexist” -thing just a very silly game of semantics rooted in people wanting to hog the words “sexism” and “racism” for themselves for whatever reason that I just can’t comprehend. I mean is it really so important for these people to have their own special word to show everyone how they are the most underprivileged people around? Can you not make that distinction without seperate words and definitions?

    • They cannot do this, because the whole modern concept of sexism is based on the fact that a woman is always a victim, and a man is always an oppressor. The very fact that a man can also become a victim of sexism will instantly raise many questions about the ethics of feminism, including their widespread use and propaganda of anti-male prejudices.

      For the same reason, many black activists fear the concept of reverse racism like fire, as it would cast doubt on many of the practices of black nationalists. Basically, we are dealing with sexist and racist hypocrites, who are most afraid in life of being in a situation where others will understand that they are behaving in the same way that they blame others.

  3. Reverse sexism, that is when a privileged & entitled gender (Indian Women) discriminates against men.
    And yep, that does not exist!

  4. That is bs how it was said that gay women were discriminated because of their sexual orientation and genders while gay men were only discriminated because of their sexual orientation. That is completely messed up how you can say that. I am a liberal person and an LGBT activist and I can say that gay men are the ones who are discriminated because of their gender. Gay women hold hands but no one even cares while gay men are harassed and discriminated against. Don’t be delusional, men are the subject of sexism when it comes to homosexuality. That can be because they are often seen as more feminine, which is OK for you too show as a reason, but they probably still identify as a man. That can be because of hatred against femininity, and that is factual but that phrasing was literally just a scribble. Plus, gay men are not always feminine and that is a stereotype and misinformation about LGBT people, which should not be even the topic of an article that supports the idea that “Men can never be discriminated against because people can’t make sounds with their mouths”. LGBT people most likely will not agree that gay men are less discriminated than gay women ?.

    • Pretty sure a slew of derailing arguments doesn’t constitute a rebuttal but okay.
      “Gay women hold hands but no one even cares”

      In what world is that even remotely true?

      If something wasn’t talked about that’s not a fucking crime lmao It’s talked about in other relevant articles.

  5. ‘Oppression flows in one direction only’. With all due respect, this is flawed. Most gender-based ideologies or prejudices are a source of oppression including sexism, feminism, chauvanism, patriachalism, matriachalism (which does exist). These are patterns of culture that made sense to people in their life context, but in this modern world there are so many exceptions. And people live those exceptions for a whole lifetime. Both men and women want liberation from excessive identification with any of these ideologies because they are a source of oppression.

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