Posted by Pattie on 11/18/2002 09:45:00 AM

Yes, Tish, the herbs have helped. Though when I went back and reread the week of blogging I did, I realized it must seem that the herbs were miracle drugs responsible for me writing five times as much as I had in the last month. Actually, I think I've just been storing up so much in my brain that when I finally got a little energy, it all came pouring out.

Kell said

"Even if people say they aren't sexist, they frequently are, because even the lefty progressives have their own definitions of what is or isn't allowable hatred. I have to worry about who is or isn't sexist, because my ability to survive these sorts of sucker punches is getting weaker all the time. "

This is the point I'm trying to make when I said that debating whether someone is sexist or not misses the point. People often say and do things without realizing that they are repeating ideas and memes that hurt other people. Sexist language speaks through them. Deciding whether that makes them sexist or not gets bogged down in arguements over intentions and characters. I puts the burden of proof on the person who was hurt to demonstrate that the person doing the hurting meant to hurt. It is a top-down approach that further hurts the less powerful in the situation. Rather than argue cases, I have come not to care what the motivation is for the words. I don't give a damn if some nice lefty says something stupid or some hard-ass righty meant what he said. The words hurt either way and the confrontation of culture is needed in order to create other resources upon which people can draw.

Here's a case in point. In an unrelated discussion yesterday (unrelated to sexism), a friend and I were discussing someone she knew who was in a bad marriage, but wasn't leaving because the person felt it was better to be married than to be single. 50 years ago, a conversation between two women about a third woman who was staying in a bad relationship for the sake of marriage would have automatically been admired. Most of the cultural resources available would have supported admiration of the position. However, it would have still been possible to question culture and the decision. In fact, in the 1960s and 70s some people successfully questioned the assumptions of marriage for marriage sake. Now, in the contemporary conversation, we would have felt awkward if we had supported the decision. Instead, we discussed how sad it was that she felt stuck and how obvious it was that she should leave. Now I know that there are backlashes to these new positions and cultural resources supporting the old position are being created as well. But the point is that things changed, culture changed. And the changing of culture made it easier for us to see leaving a bad marriage as a viable option instead of a radical one.

So yes, it is important to be vigilant to sexist language and to find ways to confront that sexism where possible. The ideal would be for men to do this as much, if not more, than women. I would think they would. As Carl said last week on our radio show: "Some men ruin it for the rest of us." If I were a heterosexual man, I would hate sexist remarks because I would be interested in sexual relationships that are honest with people who don't go a little nuts trying to work things out. It seems to be in the best interest of anyone who is interested in having sex to ensure that sexual relationships take place in a free and honest space. I have a growing suspicion, however, that most people, including men, are not interested in real sex. But that will be a discussion for another time.