evolutionary psychology is sexist pseudoscience

I hate my psychology class.

I find learning about psychology interesting. But I hate the teacher. I don’t want to call him a professor because I feel that implies a certain respect for his teaching abilities, which are nonexistent.

He is focusing now on using evolutionary psychology as an excuse to disseminate his sexist opinions on the roles of men and women. He literally said in class that women stay inside to cook and clean, and men do more outdoor activities and chores, like taking out the trash and shoveling snow.

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casually reinforcing the gender binary

So I starting going to school again last fall, to a local community college. The only class I am currently in is General Psychology I.

Somewhat of a tangent: I understand the need for the school system being the way it is, but I completely disagree with it, and I have found that it is extremely hard for me to fit it and make it work for me. That is a statement that seems to require a lot of explanation, but that’s not what I am posting about today – in the future I will probably talk about this.

Because of this, I have been trying to take as many online classes as I can. Unfortunately not many of the classes I need to take are offered online, so this semester I am taking psychology on campus. I don’t dislike the professor. He seems like an intelligent, caring person; though I wouldn’t consider him an especially gifted teacher, he seems to enjoy it.

My problem with him is that his speech is sexist.

I won’t say that he is sexist, because I don’t believe it is right to call someone sexist. We live in a sexist society, and I believe our society conditions everyone to be sexist to some degree. It is unfair to call someone a sexist person, because we all are. We can try our best to resist and not behave in a sexist way, and to enlighten others as to their sexist behaviors. Also, people are more receptive to having their behavior called sexist than to being called a sexist person: most people would deny the latter without thinking, whereas a person who doesn’t consider themself sexist may be open to criticism of a specific behavior.

He consistently addresses the class as “ladies and gentlemen.” He often uses stereotypically gendered behavior as examples to illustrate his lessons: he claimed that women shopping is an example of research that we perform daily. Just addressing “the ladies.” He joked about how the men in the class had better not forget Valentine’s Day, or he guaranteed they’d be in big trouble! I hope I wasn’t the only one in class offended by these statements.

I raised my hand at the shopping example and said it was offensive, and asked if he was going to ask the men about their shopping habits as well. His reaction was interesting in that he acknowledged my protest and apologized, yet continued with his example as if he wasn’t quite sure what was wrong with it… He made an attempt to include men after that, but still, every single time he addressed the class, it was “ladies” and then “men.” Never “class” or even “people” or anything, anything at all gender-neutral.

Maybe this seems like a small thing. But I feel like it is evident that if you are using gender-specific words every. single. time. you address a group of people, that you see that group of people only in terms of their gender- that you define them and expect certain behaviors of them based solely on their gender. How could it not mean that? Even if that’s not true (which I doubt), that is the impression you give your audience. When my professor looks at me, speaks to me, he is not seeing me, he is not seeing his student, he is not seeing a person. He is seeing a “lady.”