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how not to be a sexist jerk

With all the furore and discussion that’s been kicked up around Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech and Tracey Spicer’s letter to Mr Sexist, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it all means. I’ve been trawling message boards and online newspapers to see what’s being said. What’s come out of it is that 1: people who comment on online newspaper articles love a bit of moral outrage, 2: my favourite football team is in a serious pickle and 3: sexism and feminism are still big confusing items for many people.

Now, if you are sexist or think feminism is just a bunch of hairy, shouty lesbians, fine. Do us a favour though, and please take a look at these ways to not be a big jerk about it.

The biggest issue most people have with feminism is that it seems that women want everything. Not only do we want to be considered equal to men, but we still want men to buy us dinners and jewellery and hold the door open for us. MADNESS. Women need to make up their minds. Check out some of the comments on this article about whether we do ask for too much

The thing is that all these commenters seem to be confused about what equality is. They think that women deserve equality if we act like men. That’s not equality! That’s to equality what One Direction are to the Beatles. A poor substitute that tries, but misses the mark. What most of us actually want is equal value placed on feminine traits and masculine traits, whichever sex happens to be displaying them at the time.

So yes, I would like to be appreciated for my intelligence and business skills (assuming I develop those at some point in the future), but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be made to feel feminine and lady-like sometimes (assuming I develop those traits at some point in the future). Or just stop taking women’s choices on how they want to act as somehow tied directly to your masculinity. That works too.

Some sexist people don’t even know that they’re being sexist. Maybe they’ve gone so far down the political correctness route that they’ve ceased making sense. Politically correct doesn’t automatically equal true. Sometimes, it just looks patronising and awkward. That first one is a big jerk trait. Let’s stay well away from being patronising. The sort of thing I’m talking about here was displayed on that hard-hitting current affairs program, Today Tonight. They did a little good news story on women who had started businesses that they ran from home. These women not only had started their own successful businesses, but… drum roll, please… They had children. Plot twist! They are not only entrepreneurs but mums as well! And the term ‘mumtrepeneur’ was born.

People running Today Tonight, you don’t have to make up a feminised word. It is an impressive feat but now you’ve made it about her being a woman, rather than about her business or her skills. Good save.

Little things that will help you to avoid being hated from more open-minded people and those of us whose views have progressed since the 1950s include:

  • Try not to generalise. It’s not ALL women who have rejected your clammy advances in favour of alpha males, or ALL men who are undermining your pleas for equality. Generalising just makes you look confused, makes your argument less convincing, and you miss out on lots of lovely people who might actually be able to prove you wrong.
  • Don’t use homosexuality as an insult. No-one who has their head in the modern world is going to be insulted by that, because being gay isn’t a bad thing. If you’re going to insult someone, at least do it well.
  • Stop taking jokes so seriously. It’s one thing for someone to make a joke about their girlfriend making them a sandwich and a very different thing to actually think that she should. Know the difference and accept that sometimes politically incorrect jokes are funny. Awkward, but funny.

I’ll leave it here as this is at a serious risk of getting to be a rant that just ends in me repeating myself over and over again until I burn up in a fiery blaze. A pink blaze, for good measure and because I like being a hypocrite. Basically, if you are a generally sexist person, whether you are directing it at women, men or a person’s preferred gender for special night-time activities, think for a moment about whether it’s actually you that is the problem. And then shut your hole.

By Amy Sincock

This article first appeared on the author’s blog, here.

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