Happy International Women's Day

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Today is also Blog Against Sexism Day, which I like to think of as Sad Irony Day—because basically the only people who participate in Blog Against Sexism Day are the people who blog against sexism every day, anyway. Wah wah wah.

One of the things I was thinking earlier, as I was writing The V Word, is how frustrating it is that so many people believe that sexism is, like, so over. There are far too many men who—because women are legally allowed to do the same things men can, and because most people will at least begrudgingly acknowledge the sexes to be equal—seem to think that women shouldn't have any further complaints, and yet use epithets for their wives' genitals to casually denigrate other men. And there are far too many women who regard feminism as some unnecessary artifact being kept on life support by boring intellectual types who can't appreciate the "girl power" of The Pussycat Dolls and Girls Gone Wild, yet get skeeved out by their pervy, grabass bosses who pay them 76¢ on the dollar.

That we've (mostly) achieved equality under the law and some semblance of sexual liberation doesn't mean sexism is, like, so over. It means that those were the easiest things to accomplish.

The rest is a fuckload harder.

Compared to, for example, eradicating all use of feminine terms to convey weakness, fear, vapidity, or other negative qualities, changing the law so that women can't be fired just for being women was like waving a magic fucking wand—and that's the reality of battling sexism that too many people fail to see. The really endemic, intrinsic sexism expressed in a million "little" ways is what perpetuates inequality—the kind of inequality that makes some guy at the hardware store talk to me like a three-year-old imbecile, but talk to Mr. Shakes like an equal.

There's still a lot left to do, and the first place we can all start is having a serious think about whether we regard sexism with the seriousness it still (unfortunately) deserves, or whether we are perhaps a bit too cavalier, a bit more flippant and ready to roll our eyes and sigh, than we should be, if we're genuinely interested in equality.

UPDATE: By coincidence, I just read this post (via Aspazia), which outlines a liberal man's awakening to the necessity of feminism in the modern world. It touches on many of the same issues I raised, but from a man's perspective, and I highly recommend it. Here's just a snippet:

I’ve always been a liberal guy, yet until recently I was quite strongly anti-feminist. … I certainly don’t think that I was, or that most men are, misogynistic, at least not intentionally so. If you had asked me, I would have told you that both sexes ought to be treated equally. However, I would also have told you that the problem of unequal treatment had been largely solved.

Furthermore, my ideas of feminists were of women who thought that they were better than men, or who wanted things both ways: to be considered equal, yet given preferential treatment.

Although shockingly wrong on both counts, I believe this view to be considerably widespread.

…Why is it so easy to accept the conclusion that there is no sexism any more? I believe it is because sexism is now much less obvious than it once was. If women were denied the vote, or were openly paid less than men, we would easily see that something was badly wrong. But today women are legally protected from both these injustices.

…Social prejudices are even more subtle… I took it for granted that I could walk where I liked, when I liked and be safe. I feel able do so without taking any precautions. Most importantly I would be simply livid if this ceased to be the case.
Really, go read the whole thing.

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