I unfollowed EveryDaySexism on twitter a while ago because some things it retweets I really really don’t think are sexist and it was annoying me that every shit thing that happened to a woman was because she WAS a woman, rather than because some shit things happen to everyone. This attitude seemed to perpetuate the rather worrying comfort some find in ‘victimhood’. It seemed to me that in reporting ‘sexist’ things that weren’t sexist, it was playing into the hands of real misogyny and the idea that just because we’re female, we’re weak and feeble beings.
Some things I don’t think are sexist:
- finding women’s bodies sexy
- using regional terms if you normally use that dialect/term (like my own use of the word ‘love’, which I would use mostly with women, but also with men)
- women wearing bikinis on adverts or on the front of magazines
- magazines designed for heterosexual men which contain lots of pictures of naked or semi naked women
- porn (consensual, rather than images of abuse packaged as porn)
Some things I do think are sexist:
- pay disparity between the sexes
- the idea of using rape or sexual assault against women to sell things
- the fact most hosts of chat and game shows are men, not women
- ‘Best Actor’ is a bigger deal than ‘Best Actress’ at award ceremonies
There’s other stuff that’s sexist and other stuff that’s not, but I’m not writing everything here, I have cleaning to get back to at some point!
Some stuff is harder to categorise. I saw a website the other day which had men in poses that are typically only done by women, called Men-Ups and it made me wonder if it was sexist that women are sexy in those poses and men just look daft, and I’m still left wondering. I can see that it is because perhaps we’re conditioned to find “silly” women sexy and the same trait in men off-putting, or perhaps it’s just because these poses and faces highlight things which are sexy on a woman (legs, boobs, mouths) and Diet Coke have it right with highlighting men’s abs, arms and backs as the sexiest parts and we should not equate ‘different’ with ‘ist’?
Then there’s wolf whistling and saying stuff to women in the street. Someone else (though I’ve forgotten the piece and author, I’m afraid) recently wrote about how this too is sexist as these (rude) men would never do this to another man, and that their actual aim isn’t to woo a potential wife (or fuck) but to highlight that they have the power to do this and the woman has no power with which to avoid it. See I kinda buy that, but I also think that to be honest if one of these women replied with “Cute, you really do think I’m hot? Wanna come back to mine?” that the man would JUMP at the chance, which really is quite pathetic in itself. Much like I don’t buy the whole ‘All rape is about power’ (erm, no, sometimes it’s about sex) I do think some sexual harassment is about sex too, but is it sexist?! Or is it just trying your luck?
I had a rather unfortunate incident on the bus today. On my way to meet T for lunch, I was sat near the back, on my own, on a quiet bus. A man got on and was looking for somewhere to sit. He looked at me and smiled and I did that polite kind of smile that you do to be polite but also kinda says “Please don’t sit next to me, please don’t sit next to me”. He came towards me, leaned in and said (he was possibly Turkish or Eastern European, so he perhaps didn’t know the exact translation for what he wanted to say?) “I love you” and tried to kiss my face. I recoiled and faced the window and he went to sit down further towards the back. As he got off, he smiled at me in a really sinister way and made kissing actions. It freaked me out, I was quite shaken. I’m fine now, but it’s left me wondering if this was a sexist incident? I can’t imagine a woman (unless there was perhaps a problem with her knowledge/abilities in social interactions) doing this, but does that fact alone make it sexist?
Anyway, I just wanted to share my ramblings that just because women are usually the victim of harassment and men are usually the perpetrators, I don’t think this means it is always sexist and that it certainly doesn’t mean everything shit that happens to a women (even if a man is to blame) is automatically sexist either. Some things are just shit, done by shit people, which makes people feel a bit shit.