Sexism, Democracy, and Modernization

The fundamentals of sexism and its relation to democracy

When writing about sexism and its relation to democracy and modernization, I would like to prove how the issue of our discussion supports democracy. Generally, my argument will be quite simple. I would like the readers could draw their attention to the fact that the countries, which parliament is represented not only by men but also by women, are considered to be democratic societies (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, South Korea, Ukraine, the United Kingdom, etc.). On the other hand, I can not say the same about non-democratic countries (China, Cuba, Algeria, North Korea, etc.). Can you?

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I have to point out that there is a certain interdependence between female representation and democracy. As far as all members of a democratic society have political rights (including women), the issue of sexism has no sense. However, a person who is familiar with the history of the world should remember that many years ago women could not even vote; when they finally received the right to vote, there was no opportunity for them to perform politically.

Ronald Inglehart, Pippa Norris, and Christian Welzel (2004) think that “Democratic institutions existed long before gender equality, but today, the growing emphasis on gender equality is an important factor in the process of democratization” (p. 2). In my opinion, equality is considered to be a significant factor of democratization, because, at the end of the 20th century, cultural aspects became extremely important.

Valerie Russell is sure that sexism and racism have much in common; thereby, one can state that sexism is recognized as an extremely important issue. Generally, both phenomena are closely related to humanity. According to Russell (1997), “human liberation means new consciousness of oppression and rising expectations concerning the future. Oppressed people begin the process of liberation by negating the negative of the present situation. And it is this discovery that frees them to discover their humanity…” (para. 6). The same can be said about sexism. Social life is considered to be one of the most widespread spheres of sexism.

Sexism and modernization

While speaking about sexism and its relation to modernization, it is important to keep in mind that the issue is not so easy to discuss. Generally, “Modernity, rationality, technological progress, and good government are achieved in a public realm inhabited by autonomous men” (Reinner, 1996, p. 24). In other words, the modernization process and masculine modernity are interdependent notions. Reinner (1996) says that “When women are discussed by the modernization theorists in any specific way they are presented in remarkably flat terms, and often uniformly oppressed by men and family structures” (p. 25).

The supposition that women have no relation to modernization can be explained by the fact that they are recognized to be the most conservative members of contemporary society. A vivid example of a woman’s precarious position is A Story of Injustice in Modern Iran. Thus, the author states, that “Muslims cannot stone a human being, but when a woman is accused by her husband – rightly or wrongly – of infidelity, she is no longer considered human” (Sahebjam, 1995, p. 151).

Generally, I have to point out that sexism is not easy to understand. Relying on the social dominant theory, “one cannot hope to eradicate ethnic or gender prejudice until we have a better understanding of exactly how these two social phenomena are both similar to and different from one another” (Sidanius & Veniegas, 2000, p. 2). An age-system, a patriarchal-system, and an arbitrary-set system form the so-called social hierarchies.

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The conclusion

“The emergence of a feminist movement in advanced industrial democracies is typically linked to the post material agenda” (Dalton, 2005, p. 15). Thus, taking into account the above-mentioned statement, it can be concluded that there are advanced industrial democracies, that determine whether social inequality supports or negates modernization.

In my opinion, sexism supports democracy and modernization, as the system of government and the implementation of a new ideology (i.e. modernization) have a positive impact on the rights of women. In other words, there is a mutual interdependence between sexism, democracy, and modernization.


Dalton, R. (2005). Social Modernization and the End of Ideology Debate: Patterns of Ideological Polarization. Web.

Inglehart, R., Norris, P., Welzel, C. (2004). Gender Equality and Democracy. Web.

Reinner, L. (1996). Gender and Development. Web.

Russell, V. (1997). Racism and Sexism. Web.

Sahebjam, F. (1995). The Stoning of Soraya M.: A Story of Injustice in Modern Iran. Web.

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Sidanius, J. & Veniegas, R. (2000). Gender and Race Discrimination: The Interactive Nature of Disadvantage. Web.

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