Getting to grips with basic terms: “sexism”

Since I started reading and thinking about gender issues and MRA and PUA etc. I came across certain terms that seem to be used so incongruently that I have a hard time to make any sense of them.

Still the biggest puzzler: “sexism”. Wikipedia defines:

Sexism, also known as gender discrimination or sex discrimination, is defined as prejudice or discrimination based on sex; or conditions or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex. Sexist attitudes are frequently based on beliefs in traditional stereotypes of gender roles. Sexism is not just a matter of individual attitudes, but is built into many societal institutions. The term sexism is most often used in relation to discrimination against women, in the context of patriarchy.

Sexism involves hatred of, or prejudice towards, a gender as a whole or the application of gender stereotypes. Sexism is often associated with gender supremacy arguments

The important bits of the definition:

  1. prejudice based on sex
  2. discrimination based on sex
  3. conditions or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex
  4. Sexism is (…) built into many societal institutions.
  5. Sexism involves hatred of a gender as a whole
  6. Sexism involves prejudice towards a gender as a whole
  7. Sexism is often associated with gender supremacy arguments

Right…

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1) It is epistomology 101 that you will never be in possession of all the facts (or all the opinions or in general: all the information that might be relevant).

Therefore it is impossibe to be ultimojudicial. Every judgement you make, by the very nature of human understanding, is prejudiced. You judge before you know everything you might need to know.

At first look this implies that “prejudice” is a word void of meaning.

But that is not the case, it is just a very slight misnomer. It should be too-early-judice. Or alternatively too-careless-judice.

This means that “This is prejudiced” is no Yes/No question. Any answer is an opinion that needs to be argued.

Most people accusing someone else to be prejudiced feel that they are absolutely right in doing so. Considering the “too-…” in my definition, they feel or think they are proper judges as to what “too early” or “too careless” in the given context means and that the other violated it.

Which means that any accusation of prejudice that hasn’t looked into and discussed the case that the other might indeed have given enough time and care regarding the context of his statement is prejudiced.

Basically what I want to say here: using “prejudice” as an accusation is a two edged sword. You can’t just claim. You have to argue to be not guilty of the same crime.

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2) This opens a new can of worms. What does “discrimination” mean?

Discrimination is the prejudicial treatment of an individual based on his or her membership – or perceived membership – in a certain group or category.

Ok, one doesn’t only have a prejudice but one also treats another according to that prejudice.

I wonder if the definition is missing something. Shouldn’t it be “to their disadvantage”?

Dictionary.com defines it thusly:

treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit

No omission in wikipedia then.

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3) This is aimed at the “Question: A woman has a car accident; who is guilty? Answer: The women. What was she doing outside the kitchen?” attitude.

No further questions for the moment.

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4) OK. This probably involves the “discrimination” bit of the definition, i.e. institutions treat humans differently depending on which sex they have.

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5) “Hatred” That’s new. But all in all nothing more than an exaggerated form of 1)

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6) Isn‘t this the same as 1)?

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7) X is better than Y. Got it. Also “All X are better than all Y”? Implying “No Y can be better than any given X”? Probably.

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So, what would be examples of sexist attitudes/statements?

“I won’t let you drive my car because you are a woman” (1)

“Women can’t drive” (6)

“Men are violent” (6)

“If a man hits he does on average hit harder than a woman” (No sexism, but empirical evidence)

“Women like drama” (No sexism, but empirical evidence)

SCUM (3, 5, 6, 7)

Affirmative Action (2, 4)

Men liking pictures of scantily clad women – A silly person might argue for (3). But what stereotype or social role would that be? “Beautiful women are prettier than ugly ones”? “Sexy women are nicer to look at than plain women”? More likely something along the lines of “Women are expected to be sexy”. But if that is sexist then so is this: “Men should not cheat” or “Men should man up“. (A nice answer to the manning-up idea is here)

Men not being allowed to sit next to children on a plane (1, 2, 3, 4, 6)

to be continued

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