"The women of Bikini Kill let guitarist Billy Karren be in their feminist punk band, but only if he's willing to just "do some shit." Being a feminist dude is like that. We may ask you to "do some shit" for the band, but you don't get to be Kathleen Hannah."--@heatherurehere


Monday, June 11, 2012

Everyday (Subtle) Sexism

As I go through my day, I often run up against some sort of subtle sexism.  Sometimes it's not so subtle, of course, but oftentimes it's not the in-your-face-angry types of sexism that get under my skin; rather, it's the more insidious kinds of sexism that gets to me.  Of course, as a guy, I'm often not suffering directly because of this sexism--but I would add that a lot of women don't suffer directly from subtle forms of sexism.  Instead these kinds of everyday sexism create a kind of  conceptual background within which we all live, and, to the degree that the background is sexist, we have to live within it. To the degree that it is subtle, it's difficult to call people out about it. 

This picture was put up as a "joke" by a guy that I know to be a smart, worldly man who has done a lot of thinking about (among other things) gender.  It's part of a basic trope that I hear echoes of all the time:  "Women are complex.  Men are simple."  I think it's pretty sexist--it's part of the whole "Mars vs. Venus" line of thinking which oversimplifies sex and gender is so many ways that it's difficult to know where to begin when criticizing it. (Ok, a beginning: There is more variation between individual men and between individual women as regards behavior than there is between women and men. )

I think it's often a good idea to point out this kind of everyday, subtle sexism, because it's exactly the kind of sexism that well-meaning people want pointed out to them--I try to appreciate it when folks point out that I'm using sexist (or racist, or homophobic, or whatever) ideas especially when I'm just not aware of them. Unfortunately, this sort of thing doesn't always play out so well for me; when I pointed out the sexism involved in the picture, it was not well-received, even by a guy who has a lot of experience with social justice issues and oppression.

So what do you folks do when you run into everyday, subtle sexism? 
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