What is sexism? What is a sexist? These questions have been around for quite some time now, so there are, no doubt, some well-thought-out answers to these questions. But before I consult experts on conceptual issues, I like to do a bit of thinking for myself.
The first thing that occurs to me is that sexism is similar to racism, and that both phenomena occur in different kinds and various degrees. I’m going to think out loud about racism for a bit, and then see whether my analysis of racism applies to sexism.
One could hold a benevolent form of racism that takes pity on black people, that cherishes black people and their well-being, in spite of their alleged inferiority to whites. Children are physically and intellectually inferior to adults, as a general rule, but our response is usually to look on children with fondness and to feel a sense of obligation to provide help and assistance to children in need or in distress. We are the smart and physically capable adults, so we ought to assist children who are weak, defenseless, and incapable of taking care of themselves.