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Sexism holds negative implications for society


“It’s funny.” After being asked by Jourdan Rodrigue, a female reporter for the Charlotte Observer, about routes and plays, Cam Newton displayed sexism blatantly by replying, “It’s funny to hear a female talk about ‘routes.’” Immediately the media audience buzzed with gasps at Newton’s disrespect, not only to the reporter but to all women, by underestimating their intelligence. Cam Newton later apologized publicly and was seen wearing a pin of Rosie the Riveter, a famous icon used in World War II to promote women taking action during the war; however, despite his apology and feigned support of women through a hat pin, the issue is not solved. Cam Newton’s comments are simply the latest in an age-old issue for sexism against women and hold problematic implications about the value of women in society.

Cam Newton’s comment not only was a blatant show of sexism; it reflects the underlying societal phenomenon where women are inherently underestimated. There are endless texts and publications on the enigma that is the human brain: Some divide the topic by gender, leading to discussion on the “female brain” and the “male brain.” Disguising sexism as science has engrained certain beliefs into the collective thought of our society; women may be seen as able to multitask but are weaker at judgements and overly emotional, thus reinforcing old stereotypes of men as the ultimate leaders and thinkers. The consequence of such beliefs is that they hold each gender to lower expectations, and with a survey from Microsoft revealing that young girls become “disinterested” in STEM subjects between the ages of 11 to 15, there’s nothing “funny” about an entire gender being disregarded from the same level of competency as what is expected of men.

Cam Newton’s comment, paired with the underlying structures that typically cause women not to pursue more (simply because they are regarded as less and have less expected of them), holds greater implications for social and cultural norms. Conformity to social expectations, gender roles and stereotypes, or a lack of role models ,impacts the degree of empowerment that a gender experiences. In the field of sports journalism, specifically “sportscasting,” there is a major lack of women–undoubtedly because many sports operate in a hyper-masculine, aggressive, “locker room” talk culture. Other fields, such as STEM and business, also suffer from gender inequalities as women are not represented equally to their male colleagues.

Cam Newton’s comments gave many a glimpse behind the illusory curtain of a progressive, modern society where numerous movements for gender equality exist. Cam Newton’s comment was not a simple slip-up; it was a reflection of the engrained beliefs of a society that still struggles to approach gender equality in different arenas. Ultimately, people should work to change perception of gender rather than stifle themselves as empowered leaders simply because of what outdated beliefs dictate about gender.

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