How to detect sexist attitudes earlier
June 29, 2014 12:38 AM Subscribe
I realized over time that 3 of the men I've known for years have patriarchal beliefs, even though they've always said feminist things. I sometimes remember sexist remarks they've made and then feel worse about myself. What's worked for you in being able to recognize people like this earlier, before you let them into your inner circle?
posted by cheesecake to Human Relations (45 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
I'm a woman. Three of the guys I've known for a long time are very vocal about their appreciation for strong women. Not only do they say how much they admire me (as a strong woman), they go to great lengths to keep up our friendship, investing time and effort. However, after years, I've noticed things that disturb me:
- The only body type they deem attractive is the size-0 leggy fashion-model look.
- They say all the time how they want to date a successful woman, but then either keep dating a string of women with no career, or tell their successful girlfriends that they insist she become a stay-at-home mom in the future.
- Two of them make jabs at me, like "You sound like you'd be a difficult girlfriend" or "Let me quiz you at math to see if you really are that smart" or after I said I hope my project wins a prestigious award, "I don't think it will". I'm annoyed that they drive across town to hang out with me, and then proceed to insult me.
If it's relevant, all 3 of these people give off a clear vibe that they just want to be friends, and are not looking for more from me.
Sometimes, days after hanging out with them, I remember their comments and feel less self-assured. When I recall them raving about the hotness of various size-0 women, it makes me feel fat. Also, I think about how they claim that their priority is an ambitious woman, but then they'll quickly reject their ambitious dates in favor of a super-hot non-ambitious date. It makes me feel like all my personality traits are going to matter less than whether my body is the media-endorsed thinness.
1. I got fooled for a long time because these guys said the "right things". They give lip service to how much they want an ambitious partner who can be their equal. It was years before I pieced together the above. How can I get faster at spotting guys with patriarchal beliefs who spout feminism? What's worked for you?
2. They spend a lot of effort on being my friend, but then insult me. Am I their "beard", i.e. an accessory so they can keep pretending to be a feminist? Do they get a perverse high out of putting down others, and lording themselves over a "strong woman" feels even better than doing it to a less-strong woman?