Dustin Hoffman says yes. I saw this posted on Buzzfeed for a few days and just now got around to watching it. It’s short. It’s three minutes. In it he talks about the premise of the movie Tootsie, where he dressed as a woman, albeit a not that stereotypically attractive woman. Notice what he says and how he chokes up around the 2:30 mark.
It’s amazing to see a man affirm what women have known and have suffered for for centuries. There is an assumption in our world that to be attractive a few things must be in place: long hair (have you ever seen a Victoria’s Secret model with a pixie cut?), big boobs, a proportionate waist-to-hip ratio, flawless skin, legs where you ankles are more narrow than your calves, etc. I don’t need to itemize what everyone knows. Look at the cover of any magazine. Why do women always appear nearly naked and men with clothes on? Because women are judged on appearance and men are judged on their worth. Have you see Alan Thicke’s latest video? Naked women and a man in a suit and tie and a button down shirt. What does that say? It says, look at the woman’s body, that’s what’s important, but listen to the man singing, he can offer something. Personally I think he’s an awful singer, but you get the point. Women are to be looked at and men can be covered up because their physical attractiveness isn’t that important to their success and what they offer the world.
This is sexism. It’s not always conveyed as a woman being denied a CEO job. Sexism is when the world treats you differently just because a few genes collided to give you a vagina instead of a penis. And then the world heaped different unrealistic expectations on you.
This starts so early on. How many of us interact with a young girl and say, “Oh Ellie, your shoes are so sparkly. Oh Lisa, I love that bow in your hair. It’s so pretty”? Yet, when we see boys we talk with them about what they do, about action. “Oh Ben, that car is really cool. How fast can you make it go? Oh Jack, I heard you ran around the playground five times this morning.”
Start noticing. Take a minute to change your patterns. Stop sexism.