How To Stand Up To Casual Sexism

Casual sexism is everywhere. It’s in every home where the woman does most of the housework. It’s there when your boss calls you Susan and your assistant, Mr. Ross. Why do we tolerate it, and what is the best way to stand up without being labeled ‘difficult,’ ‘selfish,’ or belligerent?

What Is Casual Sexism?

So, what is the meaning of casual sexism? Here are some examples:

How do you react when your partner assumes you’ll clean up the dog’s vomit because you’re a woman and therefore know where the cleaning products are and how to use them? When a man catcalls you in the street, how does it make you feel?

Those times when your boss referred to a coworker as “that bitch from accounts” or told you what a ‘good girl you were, did you complain? Probably not.

Although casual sexism is all around us, we often bury our heads in the sand, trying to ignore it and pretend it’s not there. Unfortunately, it is, and it has a very significant impact on us.

Studies suggest that there is a “clear and damaging link” between sexism and mental health, and who can deny that casual sexism, in whatever form, crushes our self-confidence and provokes feelings of self-doubt, isolation, and alienation?

So, what to do about casual sexism? What does casual sexism mean to us…really? According to an article published in The Guardian a decade ago: “Don’t perpetuate it yourself, call it when you see it and fight any man defending his misogyny or any woman defending her false consciousness.”

That’s easier said than done, though. Standing up to casual sexism in a private environment is one thing, but doing it in the professional sphere can be both intimidating and nerve-racking. Here are some tips on how to overcome those fears and find the confidence to speak out:

How To Deal With Casual Sexism?

What is the meaning of casual sexism in the workplace? If your boss repeatedly treats you differently from your male coworkers, speak up and ask him why. It may be something as simple as calling you by your first name and everyone else by their surnames, but it’s still worth saying something. Chances are, the behavior is so ingrained, he doesn’t realize its impact. Speak calmly and encourage him to reassess his behavior.

Casual Sexism At Work

Women are often given extra responsibilities in the office, from tidying up the workplace to making coffee or organizing events. While “those who undertake such work don’t receive any benefit,” if they refuse, they are liable to be labeled as lazy or selfish. The best way to deal with this is to find a positive solution. Create a roster so responsibilities can be shared equally or, better still, volunteer one of your male coworkers to do it.

Don’t Allow The Private To Be Made Public

A common form of casual sexism is the common assumption “that a life without children is a life unfulfilled.” If asked when you’ll be “settling down,” choose a response something like this: “I would get married and have children, but I’m too busy smashing the patriarchy that tells me that my self-worth lies solely in my ability to be a wife and mother.”


It may not be overtly sexist or blatantly demeaning, but casual sexism “chip away at a woman’s well-being.” We have a duty to ourselves and our mental health to stand up and say, ‘enough is enough. We don’t need to scream and shout, but we do need to draw attention to this behavior – for the sake of ourselves, our mental health, and our futures.