An Admittedly Sexist Man Sent Her An Email ... She Was Happy To Respond

Many of us are accidentally sexist, and it's super OK to ask about why your brain thinks that way. In fact, it may be the first sign that you're ready to break some bad habits ... and it's super liberating!

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Cristen: Oh hey everybody, on this week's Ask Cristen I have a co-host you can't see, because he is sitting at my feet sleeping. It's my dog, buddy. Oh, J.K., he's not sleeping as I thought he was. He's just looking very bored. Hello Christopher, Ask Cristen, "Where's my bone?"

Thanks everybody who commented on last week's Ask Cristen video, "How to talk to daughters about periods." Judging by the comments a lot of you left, it doesn't happen as often as it should. Shalini Saji said, "No one told me about periods and I thought I was bleeding to death, so I went to my friend for help instead of my mum, because I was too nervous." One can only imagine how terrifying that must have been. When I got my period, I knew what was coming, but I was just annoyed by it, and also embarrassed to tell my mum. Even though we had had "the talk." The next day, word spread around to my older sisters. They came up to me and were like, "Oh, Cristen, we hear Aunt Flo came to town," and I was like, "Who is that?" Why is puberty so confusing? OrdinaryCat randomly said, "You look like Sarah Silverman."

Hey guys, I'm Sarah Silverman. Insert something offensive that I can't say on this channel.

This week's Ask Cristen question actually came into my Youtube inbox, which Youtube can use if you want to get in touch with me. "I've recently found out that I'm sexist, not because I believe women belong in the kitchen or because men should earn more, both are obviously full of [beep], but because mentally I view women as delicate, for lack of a better word. I will open doors for a woman I am with, or go out of my way to use polite language that I wouldn't use in the presence of my guy friends. Do you have any suggestions to change the way I think about women and show more respect?"

You are already on your way to becoming less sexist, because you're asking the question, particularly, of a woman, and wanting to know how to change your behavior. According to Webster's dictionary, sexism means one: prejudice or discrimination based on sex, especially discrimination against women. Two: behavior, conditions or attitudes that foster stereotypes of social roles based on sex. It's really that second part of this definition that his question centers on. As a feminist, I have no problem with men opening doors for me. Guys, you can open doors for me all day long. I'm going to open doors for you too, because I think in this day and age it is completely fine for humans to be courteous to other humans. When your behaviors are influenced by sexist motivations, i.e., women needing special treatment because we are weaker, which is often termed benevolent sexism, meaning nice things that you might do for women, because you really think that we can't do for ourselves.

It's even those acts of benevolent sexism that continually undergird our place in society. It chips away at this possibility of equality. In the back of your mind, if you're exercising benevolent sexism, you think that we are inherently weaker. You think that we are inherently unequal. It's not the request for us to be treated like men. In the famous words of Cheris Kramarae, "Feminism and this whole request for us to not be treated in sexist ways, is simply rooted in the radical notion that women are people." It's not necessarily a problem that this guy talks to his guy friends differently than he does to women that he might not know as well. He needs to do the sexist self-check of saying, "Well, wait. Wait. Wait. Am I talking to my guy friends differently in this sense of when I talk to my guy friends about women, it's incredibly offensive?

Treat them as though they are objects who are maybe weaker than we are and kind of dumb, and always asking for it?" In that case, yeah. You need to stop doing that. It's the same kind of thing as if when I hang out with my white friends, I talk about people of color in a very discriminatory way, and use racial slurs and epithets, and yet when I'm around people of color, I'm quite nice and quite respectable yet I'm actually a flaming racist, because when they aren't around, I talk about them in a discriminatory way, and that's not okay. You want to become less sexist, racist, homophobic, just treat people like people. Quickly, I want to emphasize too, this is not just behavior limited to CIS-gendered heterosexual men. It's not just them who need to check their behavior. Women, we can be guilty of sexism as well. We can all probably do better in terms of respecting other people. Now, I want to hear from you, what suggestions do you have for this guy, and for everybody on how to become less sexist? Let me know in the comments below, and as always, ask me your questions, so I can give you some answers.

High five everyone, and open a door, and let your rainbow shine light on the world, and everyone can be free to be you and me. I know it sounds cheesy, but seriously, it'll make the world a better place and help uproot rape culture. It's true!

There may be small errors in this transcript.

This video was uploaded by the wonderful "Stuff Mom Never Told You." Check them out on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram.

Jul 25, 2014

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