Of Course I’m Sensitive About Sexism

Imagine someone stomped on your foot every day for your whole life, so that it was constantly bruised and bleeding, never getting time to heal before the next daily stomping. Then someone treads on your toe, and tells you that it shouldn’t hurt you, because they didn’t tread very hard, because they didn’t mean it, because your foot isn’t that injured, because they’ve never seen anyone stomping on your foot so you must have imagined it.

 

Imagine you grew up your whole life being told that your value as a human being was measured on your appearance, being a potential partner to the opposite sex, your fertility and your gender performance.  Then someone jokes that you should stop voicing your opinions, get back in the kitchen and make them a sandwich.  Woah why are you taking it personally it was only a joke.

 

Silencing people by devaluing their experience is a common tactic.  Telling them that their reactions are incorrect asserts the implication that their thoughts and feelings are neither worthwhile nor welcome.  Criticising people for the emotions they have as a response to a lifetime of conditioning is like a bully asking you why you are hitting yourself.  If you have the luxury of being emotionally distanced from the discrimination in question then you don’t get to tell people who experience it how they are allowed to feel.

 

Of course I’m sensitive about sexism: I have to live it.