I am so tired of ironic sexism
It’s not banter
It has been said before, by women far cleverer than me, that as the years go by, sexism evolves and becomes capable of blending into your surroundings, like a chameleon. It will be virtually unnoticeable until you accidentally bump into it and realise, wow there’s a whole load of sexism over there, absolutely bucket loads of it, why is nobody else seeing this? It is right there. LOOK.
Of course, there is still the big and obvious sexism and crimes against women, like the pay gap, like the fact one in six women will be sexually assaulted, like the fact two women a week are killed by their partners. And I haven’t got space or time to go into all the other sexism infused with other bigotry that women of colour, queer women, disabled women, trans people, have to deal with on top of that. But then there’s this other kind of sexism. The kind that pretends to be on your side, when in fact it is laughing at you with the other sexists, only it thinks it is being polite by waiting until you leave first.
I am talking about ironic sexism. Or any form of ironic bigotry, but we haven’t got years on our hands, so let’s focus on sexism. Ironic sexism, is when someone says something sexist, or pretends to be sexist, but they aren’t sexist, you understand, because it’s a joke and if you don’t laugh along you are just sensitive and uptight and you need to lighten up a little. It’s just banter, love. Let’s call a spade a spade. It’s sexism. Whatever way you slice it, dress it up, cover it in sauce, it’s sexism, sorry to break it to you. You aren’t being ironic, or groundbreaking, or cutting edge. You are being an ass. Women don’t need a reminder of sexism; we don’t need it rubbed in our faces any more than it is already. When someone makes a sexist joke ironically, I am reminded of all the sexist comments I receive un-ironically.
Caitlin Moran makes the comparison of being in a horrible car crash years ago, and then having a friend who would greet you every morning with ‘hey! How you doing? God do you remember when you nearly died in that horrible car crash?’. At first you might think, oh this person is acknowledging my pain, that’s nice, but when it happened all the time you would start to think ‘this is a raging pervert who wants to remind me about bad things that have happened and see me get upset about it’. It is the same with ironic sexism. Bringing it up all the time doesn’t help anything. You aren’t easing the pain or helping to talk through it. Maybe it did the first couple of times, but when it is as constant as ironic sexism is, you have to come to the conclusion that people just want to remind women of their inequality. For their own amusement.
I wrote a feminist article a year ago, and people called me a fat ugly lesbian, they called me a feminazi (because asking for equally rights is apparently comparable to Nazism) they said I should get back in the kitchen and make them a sandwich with my big lesbian hands. The last one did kind of make me laugh. It was so perplexing. I fail to understand what the difference is between those comments and the comments made by people who add ‘joking’ at the end. How does that change anything?
Here is the thing about every sexist comment I have ever received. It upsets me more than I would ever give anyone the satisfaction of knowing. When someone writes me a comment like that, they get a sick kind of pleasure out of knowing they put me down, reminding me that I am apparently not equal. I wasn’t good enough because I was a girl. And I felt that. It was a sick reminder that I am not equal in society. So let’s put an end to Ironic Sexism and all forms of ironic bigotry. I’m all for making a joke about everything, but not when it only further serves a patriarchal system.