Overcoming sexism 
Richard Parncutt, April 2024

Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.
Marie Shear, 1986

Sexism is a serious problem everywhere and lately things don't seem to be getting any better. In rich Western countries women still earn significantly less than men and have less money to retire on. The vast majority of rich people including billionaires are men. There are still shocking levels of domestic violence and femicide.

The problems in Islamic countries are well-known. The biggest problem in the global South -- and it will soon be the biggest problem everywhere -- is climate change, which is affecting (and will affect) women more than men. That is because women are more often responsible for children (care, food, clothes, education...) and men are more mobile.

To solve any problem, we must first identify the causes. Although sexism is a cultural phenomenon, it has two obvious biological roots:
These obvious differences are not going to go away, and we wouldn't want them to. But they do provide clues for the best long-term sustainable approaches to reducing sexism.
Needless to say, the point is not to make women and men equal. Obviously, they are not. But women and men should have equality of opportunity. We have been talking about it for decades, and progress is too slow. The reason some things happen and others do not might be that people seem to forget obvious things -- like the original causes of sexism and the most obvious ways of overcoming them.

There is also reverse sexism -- disadvantages for men, or at least perceived disadvantages. They include high rates of male homelessness and suicide, the readiness of countries to sacrifice male lives in war, and the simple fact that women live longer. These problems can be addressed alongside other aspects of sexism:
Many women are happy with old-fashioned gender roles. They should be free to pursue that kind of gender conservatism -- but only for themselves, and only in private. They should not be allowed to slow social progress toward equal opportunity, because equal opportunity belongs to the most important social goals, enshrined in the universal declaration of human rights. Gender-conservative women need to understand that giving women and men equal rights generally means reducing or eliminating gender differences of all kinds. Pretending the opposite, as many still do, perpetuates the differences, which perpetuates the discrimination.

The opinions expressed on this page are those of the author