Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Comment regarding a “nice guy’s” perspective on sexism

I read a really great response regarding whether or not this commercial is sexist on tumblr and I wanted to post it here.

Some basic background: feedmeastraycat doesn’t think the commercial is sexist and posted a response to the people who disagreed with him. This is part of Above the Fold’s response to that response. I don't want to post the whole conversation, but if you follow the first link you can read feedmeastraycat's whole argument as to why this isn't sexist. Even though I am only interested in Above the fold's response, I don't want to misrepresent what anyone is saying so I thought I should include exactly what Above the fold is responding too.

I really hope that all made sense. (None of the emphasis is mine.)

feedmeastraycat: To say that you’re against sexism, only to follow it by questioning my character and respect towards women solely because I’m a man is a prime example of sexism. Before you try to define my life and views any further, let me tell you a little about myself as a man. I’ve never hit a woman, I’ve never degraded or assaulted a woman, I’ve never condoned either of those things and I’ve made an effort to encourage people to learn more about the sickness of sexism and what they can do to stop it. I’m not an ape, I have the same brain and heart that a female has, and I haven’t watched or cared about a sports game since I was a child.

Above the Fold: Seriously guy? This is bullshit. Let me tell you something, man-to-man. The fact that you or I haven’t beat a woman? That counts for nothing. The fact that you and I have even been so good as to be nice to a woman when it wasn’t strictly called for? That’s not enough to qualify you (or me, or anyone) as a non-arsehole. You know why? Because women get that stuff for free. It’s a matter of course. It’s not something that requires a special effort and a pat on the back for us, every time we do it. “You know what, I have been on the road dozens of times, and I never once deliberately tail-ended someone, and even when someone else blew their horn when they got cut off, I totally agreed with a nod and sympathetic look”. The whole problem that feminism looks at is that the experience of being a woman just isn’t judged as being important or noteworthy. But hey, us guys, look at us, right? We’re nice to people for no reason! Doesn’t that make us great!

Here’s the dirty secret: nice, polite, friendly, politically progressive guys like you and me can reinforce and perpetuate sexism, in fact we often do. So let’s stop pretending that we have some sort of free pass because of our inherent niceness and instead when a woman says “you are behaving in a way that supports sexism” respect her perspective. Because your perspective on sexism? My perspective on feminism? Feminists don’t have to respect it. That’s not how it works because, uhh, we’re not women. So talking about how important it is that feminists “respect” our ‘oh, but as a really nice man I think sexism is bad’ perspective is just bullshit.
I know that was a lot of effort to post a comment some random guy made on the interwebs, but I thought it was perfectly summed up. Many men are quick to dismiss complaints about sexism from women without realizing that that easy dismissal is part of the very problem feminists are fighting to change. I’ve also noticed that some men are bothered by the idea that they are not in a position of authority on this subject. (It’s similar to how white people are quick to say racism is dead or some other nonsense about how talking about racism only perpetuates racism.) Because of that, I am always happy when I read an eloquent response from men to that very line of thought (that men’s opinions about sexism are somehow more valid then women’s).

Update: I just had to add this youtube comment by Haloofculrs regarding the video:

“I will get up an hour earlier than you so I can shower, make breakfast and get the kids ready before you even get up, I will make some fruit for your breakfast so you can stay healthy and alive, I will shave almost my entire body for you and pay someone to rip hairs out of my most sensitive parts, I will work 24 hours a day, every day, I will sit through 2-hour midnight feedings, I will let it roll off my back when I’m treated differently in my workplace. I will work just as hard as my colleagues but make much less than half of them, I will say yes (most of the time) even when I don’t feel like it, I will take your call, I will listen to your mindless chattering about sports, I will listen to your friends mindless chattering about sports, I will be civil to your mother, I will usually ignore it when you leave the seat up (again), I will go see The Fast and The Furious 27: Badass Tricycles with you…


  1. Okay, it might be because I'm PMSing, but I cried when I read that response. Like, YES YES YES SOMEONE GETS IT.

    And not two minutes ago, I saw that one of my blogger friends (a female, no less) now identifies as a "masculinist" and when I clicked on the link she provided, my heart dropped and I lost a little faith.

    Because this "masculism?" This is the BS of the men's rights groups. The ones that try to torture and harass and take away kids from the spouses that they battered. The ones I watched my clients fight against, day in and day out.

    So, thank you, Above the Fold, for restoring a little bit of my faith in humanity.

  2. I followed Britni over.

    And I must say... this is a really great post.

    Above the Fold cuts right to the point. Thank you.

  3. That is depressing. If any of those people really cared about gender equality then they would be feminists (even if they don’t call themselves that).

    And Colleen, welcome and thanks.

  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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