Sexism is discrimination, domination, and oppression based on sex. Both men and women can experience sexism, but sexism against women is more pervasive. The word sexism is commonly associated with assumptions about female physical and psychological inferiority and weakness, and male superiority and strength. Sexism can refer to individual attitudes and actions or to sex-based prejudices institutionalized in social structures. Institutionalized sexism often is referred to as patriarchy. In varying degrees around the world, sexism against women is evidenced by gender wage gaps, devaluation of women’s labor, occupational segregation, violence against women, women’s under-representation in positions of political power, women’s limited access to education, limitations on reproductive freedom, and unequal legal protections. Referring to sexism as a form of domination and oppression implies a serious problem that needs to be addressed with widespread social change. Referring to sexism as a form of discrimination implies that sexism is a less serious problem that can be dealt with on a case-by-case basis. Sexism is a manifestation of social hierarchy based on sex. Sexism is therefore related to other social hierarchies based on categories such as race, ethnicity, and class.
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