Let’s start off by looking at an explanation of why the “power” is in there (Kristi is discussing racism, but the same argument applies to sexism): That ‘+ power’ portion of the equation is one of the most important parts.
This is not to say that the disenfranchised cannot be prejudiced, because many of them are, but without power, they are not actually working within the systematic framework of advantage created by the majority to privilege themselves.
Thus it is only “racism” if the person is capable of using that framework; otherwise, it is prejudice.
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Short definition: Sexism is both discrimination based on gender and the attitudes, stereotypes, and the cultural elements that promote this discrimination.
Given the historical and continued imbalance of power, where men as a class are privileged over women as a class (see male privilege), an important, but often overlooked, part of the term is that sexism is prejudice plus power.
Thus feminists reject the notion that women can be sexist towards men because women lack the institutional power that men have.
If you’re here, chances are you’re familiar with the feminist definition of sexism = prejudice + power and chances are you think that, in itself, is sexist.
A running theme in a lot of feminist theory is that of institutional power: men as a class have it, women as a class don’t.
Obviously the power dynamics do shift around depending on the culture and the time period (not to mention the individual, the other privileges that the person does/does not have, etc etc), but ultimately the scales remain tipped in favor of men in general (if you disagree with that statement, please go read the Why do we still need feminism? What this imbalance of power translates to on an individual level is a difference in the impact of a man being prejudiced towards a woman and a woman being prejudiced towards a man.While both parties are human, and therefore have the same capacity to be hurt by the prejudice, whether they like it or not, the men have a whole system of history, traditions, assumptions, and in some cases legal systems and “scientific” evidence giving their words a weight that the women don’t have access to.Consider this analogy: Personally, I mean in the little picture, this [assertion that men can be victims] is absolutely true.As in the example below, a woman can absolutely fire a man because she does not like men…this is where we use the term “prejudice.” This is mainly because she doesn’t have anything institutional to back her up.In the big picture, we are talking about grand narratives that say XYZ about women, or where certain behaviors are enacted disproportionately against women. For instance, the overarching trend of not wanting to hire women between the ages of 25 and 35 because it’s assumed that either a) she wants a family or b) she has a family and will the primary caretaker of the family so she will make a bad employee.