Reality Check: This is Not Sexism.

Sheera Frenkel posted a twitter thread about the troubles she, as a mother, had trying to get to fill an unexpected guest slot on MSNBC. It’s frustrating and difficult, but she perseveres and manages to get on camera. This is her main complaint:

People are taking this as an example of sexism, and how difficult it is for working mothers. Hogwash. This is life.

Related Posts

17 thoughts on “Reality Check: This is Not Sexism.

  1. I wouldn’t spend one second worrying about anonymous people “taking this as an example of sexism.” It may, or may not be. However, given the current division of labor in most families — that is, that the mother is the primary caretaker of most children — it may well be an example of “how difficult it is for working mothers,” especially here in America, where affordable, high quality, childcare is rare.

  2. It’s not sexism, I agree. But there is a phenomenon in the U.S. whereby women match men about 50/50 in terms of who the bread winner is, and more women are working in time-demanding fields…yet it’s still assumed that women will be the main caregiver to the children.

    Granted, women are partly to blame. My female coworkers were shocked when I mentioned that my husband and I alternate who stays home with the kids when they’re sick or when daycare is closed. The idea that if we *both* work in demanding jobs, and we *both* get paid sic/vacation days, then we should *both* trade off childcare duties was honestly mind blowing to them. One said, “I can’t imagine anyone else with my child when he’s sick!” Well, then, don’t complain when you miss work opportunties and your husband always sails off on his merry way. It’s not sexism – it’s a choice about how your household runs.

  3. “People are taking this as an example of sexism…”

    No. Not all people. Only the people who’s career/life-choice is to grievance-monger wherever possible are doing that.

    It’s generally the same lot who compare, for example, the wages of a pilot and an air steward and, when they’re of the appropriate sexes, hold it up as evidence of a gender pay-gap. (Unsurprisingly it’s not used if the pilot is female and the steward male.)

  4. I seriously cannot agree with you. I don’t often comment but now I feel that I have to when you have people bizarrely saying no it’s not sexism! YES IT ABSOLUTELY IS SEXISM! When a woman does the work and someone else takes the credit – that’s not right. Saying it is or implying that it’s right because it happens all the time just makes you part of the problem. If you accept something that’s wrong as just being the way things are then you are part of the problem. Women not having equal rights as their male counterparts is not acceptable in ANY sphere whether that is voting, signing contracts or accepting credit for doing the work. It’s always been like this doesn’t mean you get to say it’s ok or it isn’t what it obviously is.

    1. It is not sexism that she can’t be on screen because her own circumstances limit her availability.

      1. It is systemic sexism. US culture puts great pressure on women to be the primary caretaker, and in the majority of families still is (SAHM vastly outnumber SAHD by the millions). And it is a snake with its tail in the mouth – women make less money, so they make the primary caregiver job sacrifices (call out for kids sick/school closure/leave early for kids/cant travel) and as a result are paid less because they made those sacrifices. Just because people buy into the expectation doesn’t mean the expectations aren’t biased. Not every hardship women face is direct sexism, but this particular case is the result of indirect sexism.

        1. Right, it’s not sexism in the way that some guy is actively thinking “I’m going to pay women less than men because they don’t have a penis”, but there is a certain amount of implicit sexism in the fact that it’s treated as obvious that her husband can’t watch the kids in the morning because he has to go to work, so she can’t go to work in the morning because she has to watch the kids. That kind of thing is treated as the norm in our society, and that won’t ever change if every time anybody tries to discuss it, we get stuck on whether to call it sexism or not.

          1. If it’s sexism , then it’s sexism on the part of her and/or her husband because as far as I can tell, they are the ones who are treating it as obvious that he can’t watch the kids in the morning even when he is not out of town.

    2. Her – herself – not wanting to get a baby-sitter/other family member to look after her child so she can go and present her conference speech is sexism?

      Yup – I can see how. If I squint, and tilt my head just-so.


      But this is not the sexism you’re looking for.

  5. What’s hogwash is the implication that this isn’t just another way that the system marginalizes working women. Does it need to be an overt and insidious example of direct discrimination for it to be called sexism?

  6. It is not workplace sexism. It might be sexism in her marriage though, and it might be sexism that she herself is perpetuating. That her work is secondary to her role as mother .

    Why can’t arrangements be made for someone to watch her kiddo for the 1-2 hours needed for her to be on air to represent her work? Her career doesn’t get the boost of her being on tv, she doesn’t get the opportunity to promote her work. Her written pieces are discussed by her colleagues, who are then associated with her thoughts & analysis.

    While the colleagues benefit from the situation, the sexism is not theirs – it is the sexism of whomever decided (Sheera/Sheera’s spouse) that the daily mother work is more important than special opportunity to promote professional work.

  7. This is absolutely a result of systemic sexism. Implied gender roles whether or not individual women are choosing them for themselves. There’s an expectation that women are primary caregivers and women who don’t choose to be this are shamed. Power imbalance in favor of career men. Come on.

    1. There is systemic sexism, of course. This is not an example of this.

      This is an example of a married couple who made a decision, and now they have to deal with the consequences.

      The last thing I want is to demand that people structure their marriages in a different way to satisfy quotas.

  8. This is absolutely NOT sexism. What she’s experiencing is the CONSEQUENCE of the arrangement she has made with her husband. Let’s not make excuses and hide behind “implied gender roles” as women have a much larger voice in the household. And it’s only a “systematic problem” when one chooses not to do anything about it.

Comments are closed.

Are you looking for a new HR job? Or are you trying to hire a new HR person? Either way, hop on over to Evil HR Jobs, and you'll find what you're looking for.