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social sciences

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Sexism: At Present and In the Future

The past forty years have seen hard-fought struggles against sexism by women's movements in the United States and abroad. Indeed, feminists have made significant gains in advancing women's rights. Some people even claim that we are living in a "post-feminist" era. Yet there has been considerable resistance every step of the way.

In fact, both because of and in spite of the work of feminists, anti-woman backlashes have occurred at all levels of society. In popular culture, as evidenced by films, television, music videos, magazines, and books, traditional male and female gender norms (particularly the hyper-sexualization of women's bodies) continue to be exalted. In the courts, legal challenges to women's right to determination over their own bodies and reproductive systems continue to be mounted. In the workforce, women continue to earn less than men for doing equal work. Women (and children) also continue to make up the majority of those living in poverty. And whether in the home or in public, violence against women (sexual or otherwise) continues to increase.

Sponsor Message.

A number of writers and activists argue that because it is institutionally-embedded, the only way to end sexism and to create a non-oppressive reality is to dismantle patriarchal society itself. To accomplish such social change necessitates cooperative and coalition-building relationships between men and women committed to social justice, and a revision of the core (sexist) values that underlie our society.

Andrew Matzner

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literature >> Overview:  Camp

Combining elements of incongruity, theatricality, and exaggeration, camp is a form of humor that helps homosexuals cope with a hostile environment.

social sciences >> Overview:  Compulsory Heterosexuality

Compulsory heterosexuality is the assumption that women and men are innately attracted to each other emotionally and sexually and that heterosexuality is universal, a view that leads to an institutional inequality of power that privileges heterosexual males and denigrates women, especially lesbians.

social sciences >> Overview:  Patriarchy

Patriarchy, literally "the rule of the fathers," is a social system in which men hold positions of power and women are oppressed and glbtq people are treated negatively.

social sciences >> Overview:  Stereotypes

Stereotypes usually include inaccurate and negative assumptions about groups, thus contributing to racism, classism, sexism, and homophobia.

social sciences >> Overview:  Women's Liberation Movement

The Women's Liberation Movement, which flourished during the 1970s, constitutes the largest and most widely publicized social movement of women in history.


Faludi, Susan. Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women. New York: Crown, 1991.

Frye, Marilyn. The Politics of Reality: Essays in Feminist Theory. New York: Crossing Press, 1983.

Jeffreys, Sheila. "The Queer Disappearance of Lesbian Sexuality in the Academy." Women's Studies International Forum 17.5 (1994): 459-472.

Johnson, Allan. The Gender Knot: Unraveling Our Patriarchal Legacy. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1997.

Schacht, Steven, and Doris Ewing. Feminism and Men: Reconstructing Gender Relations. New York: New York University Press, 1998.


    Citation Information
    Author: Matzner, Andrew  
    Entry Title: Sexism  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated December 31, 2004  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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