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Isn’t Enlightened Sexism Just….Sexism?

By December 9, 2015 0

Enlightened Sexism is the idea that women have become so equal to men that there is no longer any need for feminism. It can also mean that we are so comfortable with what feminism is, that we have to come to the point where we can joke about it.

This brings up one of the highest-grossing comedies starring a largely female cast- Pitch Perfect.

At first glance, this film can seem like a victory for feminism: the main character is a girl, the team that wins the acapella competition is a girl’s team, the film focuses on the building and relationship-making of a bunch of girls.

Total female empowerment, right?


For starters, every single girl on the team represents a different stigma associated with women. You have the over-sexualized girl, the lesbian, “Fat Amy” (I mean, come on), the preppy girl, and the classically pretty, skinny main character.

Stereotpyes? Stereotypes.

But why?

Do they represent something much deeper than just humor? Are they saying something about modern day feminism?

In short, yes.

These different personas are placed on each girl not only as a way to get the audience to laugh, but also to represent what people expect and think of women. With that, they also show that these representations are very much alive and are in dire need of change.

AKA: Enlightened Sexism.

The film makers were so comfortable giving each girl a different, stereotype-informing personality because, yes, it gave off a positive message, but it also pleased their viewer demographic and showed them exactly what they came for: humor.

Expectations play a huge role part in Enlightened Sexism. A movie was created about a large group of girls and to no surprise— drama and cat fights ensued.

But why?

Why are a group of women associated with drama and fights (cough cough Real Housewives, Bad Girls Club)? Why do we want to see this? Why does this bring entertainment? Have women become so associated with being catty and thinking we’re better than each other?

When you see a woman, you expect certain things of her. When you see certain aspects of this woman, you give a meaning to the type of person she is. When you see what she wears/the food she eats/types of things she likes, you associate certain stereotypical things to her.

Trust me, it exists.

Has anyone ever told you that you were nothing like they expected, meaning it as a compliment? Enlightened Sexism. Has anyone ever jokingly called you a ‘prude’ just because you didn’t go home with a guy from the bar? Enlightened Sexism. Has anyone ever made fun of the way you dressed and called you names like girly, tomboy, preppy?

Say it with me this time: Enlightened. Sexism.

On one hand, maybe feminism has done its job and we are so equal we are able to make fun of it now. But on the other hand, even if we can laugh about them, will these stigmas associated with women truly ever go away?

Until that happens, I would hardly call us “enlightened.” And even if, or maybe when, we do get there isn’t it technically the same as plain old sexism?