I went on a camping trip with my aunt’s family this summer. We rented an RV and got to watch the camping company back our RV into the campsite.

Part 1:
The driver of the RV was a woman, middle-aged, and clearly very experienced. My younger cousin commented, “Watch out – she might hit something. Women can’t drive.” He is nine years old.

Part 2:
I was shocked and said, “That’s sexist.” Now, he and his siblings looked shocked. Their eyes were big and round, and all three of them quickly glanced at their mom, who hadn’t heard what I said, then quickly turned back to me. The same kid that had just said, “Women can’t drive,” urgently whispered, “Don’t say that aloud! That’s a bad word!” Me: “What? ‘Sexist’?” He frantically nodded his head. His younger brother (6 years old) and older sister (11 years old) both glanced back at their mom, then slowly backed away. Me: “If you can be sexist, I can call you out for being sexist.”

It is shameful that the same parents displaying everyday sexism by making demeaning comments about women have also taught their children that using a word that brings attention to discrimination is “bad and “wrong” because it shares a root with the word “sex”.

It is disappointing that my three cousins are being brought up to be accepting of and practice everyday sexism themselves. The same people who are supposed to teach them fairness and equality are teaching them to condone demeaning behavior towards half the world’s population.

I miss my cousins now that I’m back home, and pray that they will become respectful to all, irrespective of the sexism present in their home. I worry for my female cousin, who is being told through everyday, casual sexism that she will never be as powerful as her brothers.
Even a woman well into her 40’s maneuvering an RV backwards with expertise is incapable due to gender in the eyes of my cousin’s family.