Thursday, 30 July 2009

Is it really cheeky to be sexist?

Or the time the Globe published Christie Blatchford’s misinformed and deeply disrespectful article about sexual harassment. In the article, Blatchfored suggested that a young crown attorney, who was groped and kissed by a judge in an elevator and then -- not surprisingly –- pressed charges, simply didn’t understand the way things worked and should grow a thicker skin.

But this isn’t really about the Globe. Or even about the mainstream press. It’s about why we, as a society, are so tolerant of sexist behaviour, and so much less ambitious than we ought to be about creating an egalitarian society in which everyone is treated with the respect they need to thrive and flourish.

Why is it “cheeky” to be sexist and “shrill” to denounce sexist behaviour? It seems to me that it will be impossible to get rid of sexism if we are not able to call it wrong and make it unacceptable. And maybe that’s the unfortunate answer to why our society tends to downplay sexism and shame those who name it: we’re either in collective denial about the discrimination, or collectively committed to its survival. I think we can do better.

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