8 Sexist Things You Should Never Say to a Woman

If you’re a woman, you’ve likely experienced your fair share of frustrating comments and questions from family, friends, and even strangers.

For some reason, many people think that it is totally OK to ask prying questions about a woman’s love life or make snarky comments about her eating habits. And for some reason, people get upset when you don’t give them nicely-packaged answers to their idiotic questions.

Luckily, some men (and women) realize the idiocy of such questions and comments, but unfortunately, there are many others that don’t. Consequently, many of us dread family get-togethers with that uncle who makes too manycomments that toe the line of sexism. You don’t feel like it’s worth correcting him, since you just have a few more hours to get through before another 12-month break from him, but you certainly don’t feel good about letting his remarks go.

In the spirit of not letting others get away with covert sexism, here are some of the many dumb questions and comments that women receive throughout their lives. If you’re a woman, take solace in knowing you aren’t alone in hearing these remarks. If you’re a man, try to avoid saying these in the future. After all, we don’t need you to hold the door for us. We just want to be treated like peers.

1. “You look tired.”

Never say this to a woman, even if she looks like she just walked 30 miles straight without any rest. People throw this one out often (especially if the woman in question goes without makeup one day), but they really shouldn’t say it at all. We ladies receive enough attention on our appearances without your commentary, thank you!

2. “You might scare guys off with that attitude.”

This is an insult to both men and women, since it assumes that all men are looking for a passive female to stand by their side. Some relationships certainly operate that way, and that’s great, but in others, the woman will be more dominant… and that’s OK. Plus, a woman’s sole purpose on Earth is not to find a man. The recipient of this comment might not even be interested in men. And if they are, they might not be interested in being in a relationship. So please, just don’t..

3. “Calm down, it’s just a joke.”

If you say something stupid or make a sexist joke, don’t act defensively when someone calls you out. Own your actions, learn from them, and move on. Saying that something sexist is “just a joke” does nothing besides make you look immature. Instead, be an adult, and take your slip-up as an opportunity to grow, admitting that what you said was insensitive.

4. “You’re not really into sports. Since you say you are, name all 32 NFL teams.”

Ever heard of the WNBA? Women’s soccer? Any female college athlete? Any female kid who plays kickball? The idea that women should have to prove that she actually knows sports is just plain dumb. Why not grab a beer and talk about trade rumors with her instead?

5. “You’re not seeing anyone?” (Often featuring: “We need to find you a man!”)

This is another classic that women often hear at family gatherings. Again, a woman’s sole objective in life is not to be in a relationship at all times. This sexist comment makes it seem like seeing anyone – even someone who treats you terribly – is better than being single.

6. “Why not him? He’s nice!”

This suggests that finding a partner is just about finding “a nice young man who will treat you right.” It’s an extremely old-fashioned idea, and frankly, a terrible way of thinking.

7. “Are you sure you want to order that?” (Often featuring an unwelcome comment on your weight.)

“Yep, and I’m also going to get a side of ‘mind your own business.’” Sadly, this question often comes from other women, but that women-hating-women cycle doesn’t have to continue. Don’t comment on someone being “so skinny” or “a little big,” and don’t comment on their food choices, either. Pay attention to your own life, and let people enjoy their cheeseburgers in peace.

8. “When do you think that you’ll start having kids?”

Do you know what’s especially great? When someone asks you this question after they hit you with #5. Because again, all that women are here for is to get married and have kids, right?

Can we all agree to leave these sexist comments and questions in the past? They’re shallow, insulting, lazy conversation. Instead, ask someone about their interests, comment on something amazing they did (that isn’t related to their appearance), or talk about something that’s going on in the news. There is an infinite number of great things that you can say to women… and none of them involve their appearance or romantic prospects.

How Your Relationship With Your Friends & Family Can Lead To Coercive Romantic Relationships Later On In Life

When we think about people who behave in toxic ways over the course of a romantic relationship, we often think that they’re carrying some baggage from a previous one. But new research shows that, at least when it comes to coercive behaviors in romantic relationships, like controlling a partner, the roots go back far further than other romantic relationships. In fact, there seems to be a clear link between coercive behaviors — like being overly controlling, isolating a partner from their friends and family, and even pressuring or forcing a partner to have sex — and influences from our peers at a much younger age, as well as our parents.

A study published in Developmental Psychology looked at the long-term effects of family and friends during childhood on adult behaviors, by studying a group of 230 adults over an almost 20-year period. Researchers from the Arizona State University Psychology Department started studying participants around the age of 11 or 12 until they were 28-30, and there was something that happened during their teenage years that stood out.

Participants were asked to bring in a friend of the same sex and were videotaped while talking about different topics like friends, dating, drug use, and life goals. The researchers found that both boys and girls would engage in “deviancy training”, where friends reinforce antisocial ideas or inappropriate behaviors — like talking together and laughing about underage drinking or objectifying people they knew.

Interestingly, those who engaged in more deviancy training at age 16-17 were more likely to behave in a coercive or controlling way in their adult relationships when the researchers looked at the participants when they were in the 28-30 range. This was true of both the male and female participants.

“This has not been found using observational research before and also not across this long time period,” Thao Ha, assistant professor of psychology at ASU and first author on the paper, tells Bustle. “Also, the fact that this happens for males and females. Often we only think about the effects of male coercion and deviancy.”

One of the most important things the study found was that the participants’ relationships with their parents also played a crucial role. When the parents were absent or there was a disrupted relationship — a “parental vacuum” — it was easier for deviancy training to take hold and it was more common to see signs of antisocial behavior in their adult relationships. So although there may not be a way to prevent deviancy training from happening, having a stronger parental influence was shown to help keep these from leading to coercive, controlling, and abusive behavior in romantic relationships later in life.

“You learn how to communicate and resolve conflicts within early relationships with parents,” Ha says. “If coercion or disrupted parenting is the norm within a family then it is more likely that this will transfer to other relationships in life. In other words, it becomes normative to resolve conflicts coercively with anger, manipulation, and control, as we found prediction from early disruptive parenting to later romantic relationships.” When parents are present and have a strong, positive influence, there’s less of an opportunity for negative influences to take hold.

While there’s not one single thing that will lead someone down a path of coercion or abuse, it’s only through researching and understanding how these behaviors grow that we may be able to curb them. As this research shows, strong, positive parental role models can make a difference, when it comes to combatting negative influences — and maybe even stopping toxic and abusive behaviors later in life. Communication about sex and relationships is so important, especially during those formative years.

 

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