SHETHORITY | Conversations with Caity Lotz & Candice Patton: Sexism

Candice: What’s one of the most pressing ways sexism and gender bias is affecting your life currently? 

Caity: I think the biggest way it’s affected me are the expectations and limitations I put on myself as a result of it. I had self esteem issues when I was younger because I felt like I wasn’t pretty enough and as a result, I was letting people down and had less to offer to offer the world. I feel like little boys were encouraged to be successful, build businesses, invent things, and make their mark in the world. Which, granted is its own pressure, but at least it’s something you can work hard at and have a chance at achieving. Whereas there’s only so much you can do about the way you look. It took a lot of self work but I stopped associating my value with my looks. There’s an amazing quote that nails all of this on the head, “You Don’t Have to Be Pretty. You don’t owe prettiness to anyone. Not to your boyfriend/spouse/partner, not to your co-workers, especially not to random men on the street. You don’t owe it to your mother, you don’t owe it to your children, you don’t owe it to civilization in general. Prettiness is not a rent you pay for occupying a space marked ‘female.’”

Caity: I hope things continue to change and little girls will grow up knowing they have so much more to offer than their looks. I have a 2-year-old niece and I try to always compliment her attributes rather than her looks. So instead of “You’re so pretty” I say “You’re so smart/kind/strong.” I want her to get attention for who she is not how she looks.

Candice: We hear this phrase “toxic masculinity” more and more. I know I’ve experienced it in my personal and professional life. Have you? What do you want young men to understand about women and about toxic masculinity? 

Caity: For those of you not familiar with the term, it’s about the negative effects created when a man is restricting his emotions and actions to adhere to strict male gender role. When men aren’t allowed to express all their emotions it all becomes anger, and they feel pressured to act as the alpha and assert themselves. I think it’s pretty easy to see how that could create problems. I’ve definitely felt the toxicity of it especially in relationships.

We talk a lot about how gender stereotypes negatively effect women, but it can be just as damaging for men. It’s like we make people fit in to a box with a label and if they don’t they are ostracized. So people over compensate and suppress their true-self,  which creates problems for everyone. I think what’s happening right now with gender is going to be really good for the world. It’s like we are tearing down the gender walls and rebuilding it all to be more fluid and accepting.

Caity: I think sometimes about raising a son one day and how best to do it. What do you think is important for him to value and respect about women?

Candice: Our strength for sure. Our complexities. Our boundaries. What about you?

Caity: I hope by being a good mother he would respect women because he would respect me. If you teach him to be a good human he will be a good man (or whatever gender identity he decides to be). I think you would really enjoy this NYTimes article: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/01/well/family/metoo-sons-sexual-harassment-parenting-boys.html

Caity: I didn’t realize some of the negative effects of sexism until I was older and then it was like a flood gate of realizations for me. From major to minor things that affected the way I thought, dreamed, and acted. What was the experience like for you?

Candice: I agree. My experience was similar. I didn’t really understand or see the negative effects of sexism till later in life. I’ve been thinking about feminism a lot lately and how I came to really care about these issues and why I didn’t see it as much when I was younger. And I realized a lot of it came from my father. My dad was always extremely proud and supportive of me. He believed I could do anything I wanted. He treated me just like my brother. My goals and limitations were never set by my gender (or my race for that matter). So I moved through the world subconsciously believing I could do whatever my heart dreamed of. And it wasn’t until I got older and into the real world that I realized other men and even other women didn’t think that way. I was angry. Feminism wasn’t something we discussed in my household, it was just a way of life in terms of women being equal. My parents shared responsibilities. Both parents worked. Both paid bills. And both were respected. And that was my model. So I was confused as I got older and saw that that wasn’t the norm everywhere.

Caity: Speaking of parents, what’s something your parents said to you when you were younger that was annoying but now you get it?

Candice: My mom would say two things that annoyed me. lol

“You can catch more bees with honey than with vinegar” and “Pick your battles.” I think both of them speak to an issue I had when I was younger and something I’ve gotten better about. Naturally I’m a fighter. I believe in righteousness and justice. And boy would I fight. I wanted every wrong (at least in my eyes) righted. In my mind I had the energy to fight every battle and my mom said, “Candice as you get older you won’t have the energy, and you’ll have to choose.” Boy, was she right! I’m tired, girl.

So I’m conservative with my energy and my time. Not everything gets a response. Not everything gets a fight. And not every wrong gets righted. And that’s ok, because when the big battles hit in my life, you better believe I’m coming with everything I’ve got.

Candice: What’s been your relationship with women throughout your life. I know you have a lot of the same friends from when you were in grade school. How important is that to you? And how to you work to maintain those relationships.

Caity: My tribe! I would not be who I am today without my girlfriends. Most of my crew have been friends and entrenched in each other’s lives since grade school. I can’t even describe how grateful I am to have found such supportive, smart, spiritual, curious, and generous friends.  They make me brave because I know they have my back. You (Candice) have met them, they’re the shit right?

Candice: Your friends are amazing!

Caity: I really do mean it when we say we want you in the tribe. We’re always looking to extend the family.

Candice: I accept this rose!

Candice: So you went to Italy recently and said you went to a restaurant that gave your boyfriend a menu with prices and gave you the “lady menu” without prices. How did you feel about this? I know for me there are traditional roles men and women play that I still very much adore and find beautiful. Holding open doors for example. I’m sure for men, as women become more self assured and independent in many areas of their life, it makes it hard for them to understand what things to keep doing and what to not. What are your thoughts on that? And what are a few traditional gender roles regarding men that you still find endearing? 

 

Caity: Don’t forget, at the end of the meal they handed him the bill and me a cute box with cookies in it! I mean I loved it, but then I was like, wait am I not supposed to like it?! It is pretty presumptuous. What if I’m the one paying the bill? Or what if the guy wanted to split and now he feels pressure? I think we’re in an interesting time where gender roles are being blurred or redefined and we’re all just trying to figure it out. So it’s a good time to not be easily offended and have a lot of open dialogue.

It must be confusing for guys. “Treat me like a powerful capable woman, but also treat me like a delicate flower and take care of me. Take charge and be a man, but don’t tell me what to do.” A guy friend told me a woman got mad at him for opening the door for her, which I don’t think is fair. If it makes you feel offended having someone open the door for you than maybe just say, “after you, please” and hold the door for him.

Personally, I love it when a guy helps me with my bags, pulls out my chair, or gives me his jacket when I’m cold. I like the idea that the guy picking up the check, but I recognize that totally unfair to have to do all the time. All the sweet things from old traditions I like, but I’m not into the women can’t work, make decisions, and are basically property of men things.

Candice: I love chivalry as well. I find all of those gestures extremely endearing. I had a boyfriend once who would open the passenger door for me to get in and buckle my seatbelt and then kiss me on his way out. I loved it every single time. I think every woman is different though. For me personally I like a man who enjoys being chivalrous because I don’t think it takes ANYTHING away from my strength. I think once that occurs, then there’s a problem.

Caity: Ya, I do wonder if that means we’re trying to have our cake and eat it too? Though, when I think about it…I guess I do all those things for people as well. If my friend is freezing I’ll give them my jacket, I open the door for strangers, help if someone has lots of bags, etc. When I’m with my boyfriend, he usually prefers to be the one doing these things for me, and it makes us both feel good. Though he doesn’t mind when I pick up the check sometimes lol.

I think it’s just both finding ways to show your love, it can’t be one sided. Both people in a relationship need to feel like you’re taking care of each other.  Those can be “traditional” ways if it works for you or you can mix it up. It’s up for you and your partner to decide.

Candice: Equal pay is such a big topic right now and one we’ve discussed on many occasions. Even recently it was discovered Claire Foy was getting paid less than her male co-star for The Crown in which she was clearly the lead. How do we assure that women are being paid equal to their male counterparts in industries like ours where the lines are blurry?  What’s the biggest factor/hurdle in addressing equal pay?

Caity: It drives me nuts when people think that a wage gap doesn’t exist. There are so many layers to this issue it’s hard to explain, but it goes way beyond women just needing to not settle for less than they should be getting. It happens in every industry but I’ll focus on the one I know best. The entertainment industry works off a quote system, meaning your next job goes off of how much you got paid on your last job. Women and minorities have traditionally had fewer opportunities for leading roles, so less of a chance to get their quote up. So even as the tides start to change our quotes are a lot less so we get paid a lot less.

Candice: SAY IT LOUDER!

Caity: Lol, I’ll keep going then! A lot of the decision makers in the industry, who are mostly white men, either consciously or subconsciously view white men as more valuable than women and minorities. There is this very real feeling of, “You should be grateful, and if you don’t take this offer, we’ll find some other pretty girl that will.” Like it’s just filling the spot of “love interest” or “token black guy”. Like you’re easily replaceable. Now that we’re starting to tell more diverse stories and consumers are supporting it, we are seeing some real change. We still have a lot of catching up to do but I feel optimistic about the direction we are heading. We’ll see!

Candice: (singing) “PAY ME WHAT YOU OWE ME!” I love that song.

It’s an interesting time. I think #MeToo and #TimesUp and other similar initiatives have made people see that women are not afraid to speak up. I think it’s put a lot of industries on notice. Our voices are so powerful. We truly are stronger together. It’s still a complex topic though. I think we are conditioned not to speak about pay. It’s not “polite,” but you know what? Where has that gotten us?

I also think this is where our male counterparts can be a huge help to our fight. If they used their privilege to share information about their salaries and if they used their voices to fight for parity that would be huge asset in the fight for equal pay. 

Caity: I may have gone on a rant there and I don’t want men to feel attacked, because that’s not what the feminist movement is about. So to all the men out there… We love you and value everything you bring to the table. When you see and treat us as equals, it allows us to be the best women we can be for you, ourselves, and the world. We’re all in this together.

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