The Sexist

Sexist E-mails: “Your blog is as helpful to women as a barrel of nitroglycerin is helpful to a Caribbean cruise”

It's time for another round of Sexist E-mails, in which readers explain concepts that could never possibly be understood in any regular comments section. This time: If sexism were racism, women would be the privileged white people, and men would be the oppressed minority group. It's science. In a two-e-mail set entitled "time to get this cat out of the bag," our reader writes:

Seriously I think that your blog does more of a disservice to women than a service.

You're just driving a wedge between men and women. Men are not women, women are not men. We will never see the same things the same way. You think that you are witty and insightful, so did the guys who wrote Beavis and Butthead.

Seriously if you really want to help women, switch to a gender-neutral approach. You recently posted an entry saying that sexual harassment biases women against all men. ["Cat-Calling, Bystander Sexism, and How Sexual Harassment Hurts Men" - ed.] Realize that it doesn't limit women to bias against *MEN*. It often biases them against common sense and logic as well. Not to mention fairness and good judgment.  Your blog has ssentially become a victim-advocacy blog that perpetuates the PTSD that women suffer...from being women. Women who are by nature weaker and less aggressive and more emotional and more in need of social reinforcement then men.

So why keep kicking those triggers?

Do you think that you're improving the world for women?

You're not. You're just bringing them even more pain and suffering as well as forcing them to wallow in it, and in response they are pushing away men on several fronts and making the situation worse. It's no different than blacks who burn down inner-cities and attack whites on the street in response to white racism. But at least then they're not fighting against their own brothers and sisters.

You want women to utterly lose respect for men, and men likewise to utterly lose respect for women? Keep it up.

Of course, you would have to be logical and honest to realize this.

Why not try this on for size.

Next time before you actually post something on your blog, change the title to "the racist" and change women to whites and men to blacks. And then read it and see how well it works. Your blog is about as helpful to women as a barrel of nitroglycerin is helpful to a Caribbean cruise.

enjoy

E-mail number two:

if anything really puts your blog in its place, it's your "bit" about the female condom ["Sexist Beatdown: 'So I Was Inserting the Female Condom Into My Vagina' Edition" -ed.]

get a grip on yourself, really...stop reacting to life in ways that make the situation worse instead of better. You don't like something about life, that doesn't make it right for you to be a complete cunt about it, anymore than it is right for a guy to be a complete dick about it.

Photo via LSE Library

  • Adrienne

    Beavis and Butthead actually is witty and insightful, if you get the humor.

  • Dorothy

    Don't know about Beavis and Butthead, but you're definitely witty and insightful, Amanda.
    The e-mails on the other hand, not so much.

  • Adrienne

    Not to say everyone has to enjoy the humor, or that those who don't just don't get it, but that I would take it as a compliment if my writing were compared to Mike Judge's.

    Likewise about being called a "complete cunt."

  • Jenna

    Wow, I really enjoy Amanda's posts a lot on a regular basis.

    But these comments are convincing, maybe I shouldn't like them... No, that's a lie, I can't even fake it. That whole black/white male/female comparison doesn't even warrant a smartass joke. I think bullshit speaks for itself.

  • kza

    I think this blog is funny and so is the closing line of the first e-mail. Amanda and that dude should have a morning radio show.

  • http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/blogs/sexist Amanda Hess

    There's really no use being a half-assed cunt.

  • Meegs

    Where the hell does this guy get off slamming Beavis and Butthead? That show was comedy gold!

  • chris

    Umm. Replace women with white people and men with black people? Setting aside all of the wrong that is equating sexism (sexism against menz, no less) to racism, what is this, Mad Libs?

    Come to think of it, that last line sounds like it could've been made with Mad Libs, too.

    "Your blog is about as helpful to women as a (noun) is helpful to a (adjective)+(noun)."

  • Marty

    "Women who are by nature weaker and less aggressive and more emotional and more in need of social reinforcement then men."

    Hehe... I know a few buff butch dykes this guy should meet. I think they would be FAST FRIENDS.

    Hey, also, on a completely different topic, got any comments on this, Amanda?: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/22/science/22women.html

    I know you are a woman, and therefore your weak scientific apititude may make it nearly impossible to comprehend all the mumbo-jumbo boy stuff, but I think it would be just adorable to watch you try!

  • Yvonne

    I agree with other commenters: Beevis and Butthead: hi-larious. Carribean cruises: lovely. Nitroglycerin: helpful. Complete cunts: the only way to go.

  • Emeryn

    If being a feminist and pointing out Stupid Things are stupid...

    Complete cunt here, checking in.

  • http://jemimaaslana.wordpress.com Jemima Aslana

    "So why keep kicking those triggers?"

    Yeah, that's what we'd like to ask of those men harassing us on the streets and elsewhere. Why keep kicking our triggers? Oh yeah, that's right, you enjoy making women suffer. That's alright, then. Perfectly fine. Sorry to interrupt your big manly musings on how to best teach women to not be upset at being threatened with bodily harm.

  • je di

    I saw this headline last week, "If they call you a bitch you're winning." I'd say If they call you a cunt you've won. If your blog was worthless to women then the "mystery misogny"brigade wouldn't be compelled to pull out every ignorant angry trick they have via email & comments. Thanks! -j

  • bellacoker

    Damn! Now I have to spend the rest of the afternoon mentally cataloging all of the ways a barrel of nitroglycerin might be helpful for a person on a Caribbean cruise.

  • Shinobi

    "Your blog has ssentially become a victim-advocacy blog that perpetuates the PTSD that women suffer…from being women."

    So wait... Woman suffer from being women because women keep talking about how much they are suffering from being women.

    I love this... it so clearly illustrates that this guy knows there is a problem and that women are suffering. He CLEARLY doesn't want any of that responsibility to fall on men in general or him in particular, so we should just STFU and stop making him feel bad.

  • http://toysoldier.wordpress.com Toysoldier

    @ chris:

    No, it is an attempt to demonstrate a person's bias. One can do this with any number of groups, the point being that if one replaced one group with another one would find the statement incredibly biased, prejudiced and ultimately unacceptable. For example, from Hess' recent post about cat-calling:

    The fact that street harassment tends to divide white people and black people as classes is no secret. White people who have experienced street harassment often report coping by responding with wariness to all strange black people, in order to fend off possible future harassment. And black people express frustration that they can’t approach a white person in a way they perceive as non-harassing—whether it’s to ask for directions or deliver a compliment—without being regarded as a potential offender.

    Imagine if anyone actually stated something like this today, in 2010. We would call this racist, or at the very least biased.

    That said, such comparisons are ultimately useless as the people who make them usually cannot explain what it is they mean and those it is applied to will never treat any criticism of their views with any seriousness.

  • jojo.k

    I'm so glad he mansplained why feminism is bad.
    IF I HAD ONLY KNOWN! We're just hurting ourselves.

    Clearly the problem is that we don't all have HIS opinion which is, by definition of being his, the only right one.

  • Linda

    It was so nice of him to include blatant sexist remarks in his mansplaination of why women talking about the problems we experience as women because we are women is bad for women:

    "Women who are by nature weaker and less aggressive and more emotional and more in need of social reinforcement then men."

    By nature, really?

  • Adrienne

    @Toysoldier:

    The passage, as you changed it, would not be racist or biased. Amanda was expressing what is commonly felt by people on both sides of an issue, not justifying that feeling or behavior resulting from it. It is true that many white people are wary of people of color because they have experienced or witnessed violence perpetrated by people of color (in addition to the way the media portrays this violence versus violence committed by white people, the biases they may have learned from their parents or community, etc). And many people of color are frustrated that they get profiled and people make negative assumptions about their intentions based on their race or skin color.

    There are circumstances in which one can effectively make connections between the (common or often expressed) experience of one privileged group with another, or one oppressed group and another. But as Chris pointed out, there are many pitfalls with making these analogies. Are Amanda's blog posts really "no different than blacks who burn down inner-cities and attack whites on the street in response to white racism"? That's a pretty extreme leap. And it would very rarely make any sense to "change women to whites and men to blacks" given that women-as-a-group, like people of color, are the marginalized/oppressed/subjugated/suppressed/whatever group.

  • http://deleted je di

    @Shinobi Yeah, like how Freud knew his patients were suffering from incest but decided to blame his patients instead of their parents and now the "electra complex" and "oedipus complex" are part of our vernacular. -j

  • mdesus

    just want to say that beavis and butthead was witty and insightful. No lie.

  • mdesus

    also, and I'm not sure about this, but calling a guy a dick is much different than calling a girl a cunt. I mean for one thing dick is a name, and for another thing cunt is a hilarious word.

  • http://galacticteabag.blogspot.com Alex

    I gotta say, I have used the sexism/racism thing before as an explaining tool - but swapping out "woman" for "black". It works in my social circles because most of my mates can more easily spot when something is racist than they can when something is sexist (not sure why that is, but it seems to work - if anyone has any theories I'd be interested in hearing them)...

  • http://toysoldier.wordpress.com Toysoldier

    @Adrienne:

    I assure you that if any white person actually made that comment, particularly one in a position of authority or power, it would be considered racist and biased. That to an extent it is true does not alter the impact the statement would have.

    As for both side's feelings being expressed on the thread, that did not occur. One saw both female and male feminist perspectives, but not men in general. To the extent that many of the posts on this blog read like "Teh menz are coming! Scurry! Flee!" one could argue that the posts do more to perpetrate the problems than rectify them. There is a great deal of victimology on this blog, and there is a lot of animosity directed at males.

    As for women being the same as minority groups, unless it is an analogy like the above email, such a claim should not be taken seriously. While it is completely preposterous to even think discrimination against women is exactly the same as the oppression of racial groups, perhaps if one ignores reason and ration it becomes understandable that feminists can literally believe that women being denied a promotion is exactly the same as black men being warehoused in prisons or that products for women being colored pink is the exactly same various racial and ethnics groups getting forced into ghettos.

  • MuthaMitch

    @ toy solider

    I don't think anyone made the claim that, as you said "perhaps if one ignores reason and ration it becomes understandable that feminists can literally believe that women being denied a promotion is exactly the same as black men being warehoused in prisons or that products for women being colored pink is the exactly same various racial and ethnics groups getting forced into ghettos."

    I think a good deal of feminist discourse is to examine that a) minorities are not interchangeable, b)systems of oppression operate differently per minority and that c) gender, race, class, ability, sexual orientation etc are not stack-able or interchangeable, but instead interlock. A good article exploring this is Patricia Hill Collins' article "Toward a New Vision (which can be dug up online).

    Feminists DO not literally believe in those equations, and that blanket statement is NOT one I think she be thrown on anyone. And the idea that they were equitable came from the sexist e-mail...which really makes me question how it got turned into being a part of feminist rhetoric?

  • Adrienne

    Toysoldier, you put a lot of words in other people's mouths. I would really like to take your position seriously because you seem like an intelligent person, but the exaggerations make it really difficult to do so. No one is saying that pink-colored products are exactly the same as forcing minority ethinic groups into ghettoes. That's ridiculous.

  • http://mollymuses.worpress.com Molly

    Calling someone a cunt = total loss of credibility.

  • Emily H.

    Never trust anybody who doesn't like Beavis & Butthead, that's why I always say. Also, Mike Judge IS witty & insightful -- that would probably explain why he has gone on to create multiple successful movies & TV series.

  • chris

    @Alex

    I mean, honestly, I know sexism and racism do work in similar ways sometimes, but I try not to compare them at all, especially being on the privileged side of both of them, just because I don't want to accidentally say something ignorant. But at least comparing the way women and black people are treated (as opposed to men and black people) is comparing two groups that ARE ACTUALLY OPPRESSED, albeit in very different ways. I mean, you can't just say "WELL WHAT IF MEN WERE OPPRESSED, THEN THAT WOULD BE OFFENSIVE," like this guy is because... well... yeah. Except they aren't, still.

  • chris

    @toysoldier's first comment

    I think what Amanda was trying to say there, though, is that racism and sexism work at the same time. This guy, on the other hand, is saying "Well if this were a matter of race then you would be a racist!" Except it's not about race, and also that argument is based on the idea that racism and sexism work the same way.

  • Adrienne

    @Alex

    I think it is appropriate to compare two systems or groups at times, though I appreciate Chris's recognition of his privilege and desire not to say something ignorant. I'm also on the privileged side of the race issue, so I will try to be mindful of my lack of knowledge/experience in this regard.

    I think if it works for you trying to enlighten your friends, it's probably okay, since you seem self-reflective and hopefully try to use the strategy appropriately. It can be effective, I think, in a community that values breaking down racial inequality, but perhaps has not done as much work in regards to sexism. Many people in my community are loathe to be thought of as racist, but they may not even believe sexism still exists. It just shows that different kinds/amounts of progress have been made in different areas.

    People run into trouble when they try to downplay the struggles of one group (to which they don't belong, typically) by saying "but the same thing happens to me/everyone!" Another problem is that by setting up one group's experience as an analogy for another's, one could be denying the experience of those who are a part of both groups. If one chooses hir words carefully, I think one can avoid these and other pitfalls.

    There is value in discussing the common struggles experienced by people as a result of living in hierarchies.

  • k

    I love how according to this dude, sexism isn't the problem, TALKING about it is. God forbid we delicate ladies should work ourselves up into a case of feminine hysterics by thinking about the sexist situations we've been in. Nope, apparently all that should be swept under the rug because it's just too explosive to speak of.

    To sorta-quote another commenter on a previous post, it's just so many words to say SHUT UP CUNT.

  • http://galacticteabag.blogspot.com Alex

    @ Chris and Adrienne: Racism is one of those things that I've always tried to be hypersensitive about - mainly because I'm on the priviledged side of the equation there, and I don't want to be part of the problem - and a lot of my friends are the same. However, they're not quite as clued up towards the sexism, because it's much more endemic amongst us, and thus harder to spot. They're mostly all committed to the idea of gender equality, but they don't always get how that works in practice. What I've occasionally taken to doing is asking them to re-asses a comment or situation, in light of the priviledge they *are* used to aknowledging, and then getting them to see that it's the same priviledge, only over a different group. So actually, on a functional level, it's less about comparing women to black people, it's more about comparing two types of privilege and how they work.

  • Former Staffer

    what a pair of anal douches.

  • http://thefeministagenda.blogspot.com/ Rachel_in_WY

    On the other hand, the angry/critical emails I receive never contain such creative analogies, so I give him mad points for that. If you're going to have condescending, ignorant emails inflicted upon you they might as well be amusing.

  • jules

    OH MY GOSH, Amanda these are so good...keep them coming POR FAVOR.

  • Xenu01

    RIGHT OK YOU WERE PUT IN YOUR PLACE, AMANDA.

    Where IS your place? Is it a nice place?

  • rebekah manning

    is it wrong that this made me laugh harder than I have in a month? I mean "If sexism were racism, women would be the privileged white people, and men would be the oppressed minority" come on can they come up with nothing better than that?

  • b-bop

    I guess all those women sold into the sex trade, jailed for not having a male escort, beaten for being a women, raped as a war tactic...etc...I guess they should stop whining as well, because it's so annoying to us who don't experience any of these things.

    All those protestors in Iran are really just kicking salt in the wounds of the Iranian people...honestly, just embrace totalitarian extremist dictatorships.

    We as North Americans are incredibly lucky, but that doesn't mean we should let every little thing slide, like not getting that promotion, not because of any objective work performance, but because of being a woman.

  • b-bop

    I would also like to add that the fact that the individual who wrote to you actually expected that Amanda Hess would be hurt by their remarks and change her perspective...just shows that it's still acceptable to expect that outspoken women be easily shamed by a stern lecture or derogatory insult.

    If that worked, wouldn't life just be so easy.

  • supplementfacts

    Toysoldier, I don't think the analogy between avoiding men and avoiding blacks holds up.

    First, I doubt that avoiding blacks is nearly as effective as avoiding men. Why? Because I doubt there is a significant difference between the risk of interacting with whites only and the risk of interacting with whites and blacks alike. Whereas I think there is an enormous difference between the risk of interacting with women only and the risk of interacting with women and men alike. Consequently, the strategy of always crossing the street to avoid strange men seems like a pretty reasonable way of being on the safe side, not a matter of unreasonable prejudice.

    Second, I think unreasonable overgeneralizing fear is only seriously morally shameful when it contributes to a pattern of systematic oppression. For example, consider people who always crosses the street to avoid dogs simply because they (or someone they know) were bit once and they are now very uncomfortable around dogs. This is perhaps an unreasonable overgeneralizing fear, but there's nothing seriously morally shameful about it, because there's no systematic oppression at stake. At most it's an embarrassing phobia. By contrast, crossing the street to avoid black people contributes to a wide-ranging social problem: black people are very frequently treated like criminals, in a way that seriously disadvantages them. That's why it's important to take this unreasonable fear seriously, and criticize those who fall into it. Now consider fear and avoidance of men: it doesn't seem to contribute to any wide-ranging social problem whereby men are systematically disadvantaged. So it's not that big of a deal; at most it's an embarrassing phobia.

  • Bill C.

    ...so racism, sexism and prejudice are all about "effectiveness", "oppression" and "being safe", not actually about race, gender or hatred?

    So exactly what is the equation that makes it ok for a woman to cross the street to get away from an approaching man that she doesn't know? There must be some coefficients in this equation, and I assume that it's a power law of some sort.

    What's the exact equation?

    Thanks for clearing this all up.

    By the way, what if there are two unknown men approaching and 4 following and 6 just waiting for her to arrive after she crosses the street?

  • Bill C.

    "I’d say If they call you a cunt you’ve won."

    ...and I say that sometimes you can't win for losing LOL

  • http://toysoldier.wordpress.com Toysoldier

    @supplementfacts:

    Whether one considers the comparison fair or not misses the point of the analogy. The point of the analogy was to illustrate that person considers Hess' posts biased. One could switch out women and men with any other group and demonstrate the same thing. The issue seems to be that no one can actually disprove the emailer's point. However, the flaw in the emailer's argument lies not in the analogy, but in failing to understand the purpose of this blog and knowing its audience. In this way, the emailer's complaint is like Keith Olbermann complaining about Fox News and its commentators. The complaints are valid, yet ultimately pointless.

  • supplementfacts

    Bill C.,

    Here's why I bring up effectiveness. If someone thinks that avoiding black people on the street will bring significant gains in safety, but in fact it will do no such thing, then that naturally raises the suspicion that this person harbors unreasonable prejudices about black people. I'm suggesting that this is one reason why avoiding black people can and should make a person come across as a racist. Since the same doesn't hold in the case of avoiding men (for avoiding men really will bring significant gains in safety), this explains why avoiding men on the street shouldn't make a woman come across as a sexist: namely, there's no reason to think such a woman harbors unreasonable prejudices about men.

    As for oppression, I would have thought that its connection with racism and sexism is really clear. So I'm not really sure what I could say that would be helpful.

  • supplementfacts

    Toysoldier,

    But if I'm right that the analogy doesn't hold up, then the emailer's complaints are not valid after all. That is, if my points were on the right track, then I believe I have disproved the emailer's point. So I'm not sure I follow.

  • loki

    "However, the flaw in the emailer’s argument lies not in the analogy, but in failing to understand the purpose of this blog and knowing its audience."

    If the emailer had made the same analogy on a conservative blog, it would still be wrong. Because women don't have all the power and money and inlfuence in society, so *women* would be the blacks, *not* men. This audience may not believe that women as a group are oppressed, but they would wrong. You can babble on about Creationism on a science blog and make specious claims there all you like, but you don't automatically become right when you return to your community of religious dittoheads. Some things are wrong everywhere. This analogy is one of them.

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