Sleepwalking Into Sexism – By Harriet Page #IWD

As the title says (and quote marks imply) – by HARRIET PAGE. Not me. Direct comments to the FB link.

It has been a bad few weeks for feminism, both for me on a personal level and for women across the world. Indulge me while I list a few reasons why:

Seth McFarlane thought it was ok to reduce the artistic expression of women who chose to appear naked in movies to little more than a voyeuristic ditty about boobs. One of my friends, a man I like and respect, told me I was overreacting when I expressed my anger at a sexist joke.

A member of the House of Lords was revealed to have sexually harassed a number of women throughout his career. Members of his party knew about this, and chose to do nothing.

…It’s a short list, rather than a comprehensive one. It’s a list that some might see as trivial compared to what might have been on there; like the fact that a 15 year old girl in the Maldives who was raped by her stepfather is facing 100 lashes of the whip for engaging in pre-marital sex, or that Oscar Pistorius shot Reeva Steenkamp dead, and the reaction of the media was to print pictures of her posing in a bikini.

I don’t want to talk about those things though; not because I don’t think they’re important and not because I don’t find them heart-breaking, because I do. All but the most hard-line misogynists would, I think, condemn such abuse. And that’s my point; because what I want to talk about is not the obvious misogyny that we can all agree to despise, but rather the unconscious behaviours and attitudes that go unchallenged because in this country there is a taboo about breaking the silence on the wearying, everyday grind of normal, legitimized sexism.

And so I want to talk about the men who claim to stand on the side of equality but, through their words, actions and inaction, perpetuate the culture of sexism. I want to talk about feminism’s false allies; the men I call the sleepwalking sexists.

Read the entire post here via Facebook (sorry, you’ll need to log in).

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About Kylie Sturgess

Kylie Sturgess is a Philosophy teacher, media and psychology student, blogger at Patheos and podcaster at Token Skeptic. She has conducted over a hundred interviews including artists, scientists, politicians and activists, worldwide.
She’s the author of the ‘Curiouser and Curiouser‘ column at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry website and travels internationally lecturing on feminism, skepticism, and science.

  • Gen, Uppity Ingrate.

    This is a most excellent post. Thanks for sharing it, Kylie. I especially found that this resonated with me:

    And then, as if that wasn’t bad enough, when we read the above story and rage at the impossible awfulness of a twelve year old girl thinking that she has to let sexual harassment go because it’s just what happens, we’re expected by sleepwalking sexists to still, STILL, be nice. As women, we have to watch our behaviour every single second for fear that we make a generalisation, or express frustration, or tell someone that their behaviour is sexist. Because the SECOND we slip up – or just decide we can’t be bothered to worry about our tone, or about mangling sentences to make it clear we are not speaking about ALL men, or about flattery and ego stroking – even usually reasonable men will see this as an illustration of everything that’s wrong with feminism. We must be flawless, all the time, because on the one occasion that we’re not we will be pilloried as feminazis, as aggressive, prejudiced bitches whose very existence discredits the entire feminist movement.

  • Kilian Hekhuis

    Damn, I hate that… No Facebook for me. Why would anyone post something on Facebook making it inaccesible for the other 6 billion in this world?

    • Kylie Sturgess

      Sorry, I didn’t want to cut and paste the whole lot… probably took more than generous already. But it’s good!

  • Karen

    Thank you for posting this! So difficult to find stuff on Facebook

    • Kylie Sturgess

      You’re welcome!