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Manifestations of Sexism
Sexism has many manifestations in contemporary culture. The sexual objectification of women in the media, that is, the portrayal of women in stereotypical roles of seductress or housewife, passive agents to the desires and actions of men is one example of sexism. Pornography has been criticised for its portrayal of women as sexual objects who exist solely for male pleasure by feminists.
Sexism in Politics
The US feminist organisation, the National Organisation for Women (NOW) has argued that sexism is still prominent in contemporary politics: "Female politicians have long struggled with a double standard: while being criticized or perceived as "soft" or "weak" if they come across as too traditionally feminine, they are also accused of being too "hard" or "strident" if they come off as assertive and powerful — traditionally masculine attributes. While these impossible standards are being subverted by successful women politicians such as new House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, many journalists don't seem to know what to do with strong women. These professionals, who should know better, often revert to old-fashioned sexism in describing women leaders (e.g. denigrating women for qualities, like aggressiveness or ambition, that are seen as positive attributes in men), scrutinizing their appearance, and concentrating on their roles as dutiful wives and mothers to the exclusion of their political accomplishments and records on the issues."
Sexual discrimination is one manifestation of sexism. It refers to an action or actions taken against a person, usually in a workplace or the health and education sectors, which penalises them on account of their gender. In some cases, it also entails the promotion of another person at the expense of the other on account of their gender. For example, an employer may prefer to employ a man as opposed to a woman despite the equal merit of both candidates, simply because he does not believe a woman appropriate for the position. Sexism also manifests in salary gaps between men and women. Sexual discrimination is illegal in most countries.
The 'glass ceiling' is another phenomenon related to sexism. It refers to the inability of women to be promoted to the higher echelons of their profession, usually because their gender is considered to be a barrier to promotion. In the United States, the Glass Ceiling Commission, a government-funded group, stated: "Over half of all Master’s degrees are now awarded to women, yet 95% of senior-level managers, of the top Fortune 1000 industrial and 500 service companies are men. Of them, 97% are white." In its report, it recommended reverse discrimination, which is the consideration of an employee's gender and race in hiring and promotion decisions, as a means to end this form of discrimination.