Sexism and Gum In Your Hair


I had a very strange conversation tonight, that was hilariously nonsensical given the topic and the fervor of the argument. Thinking about it, and chatting with the OP who was sitting back and watching with amusement, I’m looking at it a bit differently now. This is a fantastic illustration of the subconscious, more subtle sexism that permeates our culture due to societal gender norms. Here’s the conversation….

OP: If you get gum stuck in your hair, melt some chocolate and rub it on the gum – it will come right out. Mayonnaise also works.

Interlocutor: If you get Gum stuck in your hair, you have to be a little girl.

OP: O.M.doG. (tilting head to the side and smacking it)… did I just read right? <Interlocutor> made a SEXIST remark?????

Interlocutor:  Only a girl could get gum stuck in their hair. It is not sexist.

This is where I enter, because….who could resist?

Me: It kinda is….

Interlocutor: I have NEVER seen a guy getting gum stuck in his hair.

Me: That must represent everyone, then….

Interlocutor: Lol, you could use the exact same thing to say the opposite. Just because you have seen many men with gum in their hair it must represent everyone then….

Me: And the logical conclusion from that is….it could be males or females. It IS usually children, however, of both sexes, due to less developed dexterity.

Interlocutor: Who has longer hair? it is generally girls. Thus who is more likely to get gum stuck in their hair…

Me: You’ve stated that it must be a little girl. Even one boy getting gum stuck in their hair disproves that, making it a silly statement in and of itself. Also it’s common enough for a guy to get it stuck in their beard or mustache…..

Interlocutor: Have you seen a boy get gum stuck in their hair and i mean themselves not someone else putting it in…

Me: Yep.

Interlocutor: Well when you say hair, unless you specifically state beard or mustache it is generally considered the hair on your head….

Me: Hair is hair, isn’t it? Really, your initial statement made a lot of assumptions, and stuck a gender on it.

Interlocutor: Hair on your head isn’t the same as a beard though is it, 2 different locations for a start…

MeIt’s still hair. The OP didn’t specify. It didn’t specify what hair, or even how it got stuck there. Someone else may put it in. You assumed it was long hair, done by the person with the hair, and that it was on their head. That’s 3 assumptions not specified in the OP to get to your conclusion that it must be a little girl.

Interlocutor: and arent you making assumptions that it isn’t. Have you considered that maybe just maybe it has the part about it being head hair left out…You would be just as bad if as a man you cant keep food in your mouth…

Me: Nope, I didn’t make assumptions. I just denied your assumptions and said it could apply pretty equally depending on the circumstance.

Interlocutor: The biggest circumstance being how long the hair is….

Me: Nope, that’s assuming it’s referring to hair on the top of the head and not on the face. The solution to getting it out of hair works for either.

Interlocutor: If it was hair on face, wouldn’t it just mention men, seeing as how woman (well most) dont have facial hair…

Me: It just mentions hair, meaning it can apply to all types.

Interlocutor: Then it would still mean it was a guy, what girl has more hair (other than on head) than a guy….

Me: The point is that it could be hair on the face OR on the head, making the probability pretty gender neutral.

Interlocutor: But still, a girl will have MORE hair on head (including facial hair) than a guy. So who is more likely to get gum stuck in hair?

Me: Considering facial hair is closer to the mouth, even if less have it, it’d still be a draw.

Interlocutor: Well, we will have to wait for the official study to see who is right.

Me: Right. Either way, it doesn’t HAVE to be a little girl is the point of this whole, strange exercise.

The conversation went on some tangents from here, with my interlocutor gnashing teeth and digging in heels a bit more, but I think this is a great representation of the problem. Our society puts genders in specific roles. Many people fall into that trap, tossing aside logic and making assumptive leaps in order to keep hold of those norms, even to the point of arguing hard for an illogical stance in order to maintain them.

This is really where our battleground is. This is the pervasive problem underlying so many of the problems with misogyny in our society today.

Contributor: Robert Sacerich

Robert is a Philosophy of Science and Bioethics student, as well as blogger and science advocate/activist. He has worked extensively within the secular community for various secular nonprofit organizations and public communication causes.

See his full bio!

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2 thoughts on “Sexism and Gum In Your Hair

  1. Your conversation should have stopped when you said ‘yep’. Because you then had completely refuted the earlier statement of the interlocutor never having seen a boy get gum in his hair. Stamp out sexism when you can! This was a brilliant conversation to read!

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