A Non-Confrontational Way to Handle Sexism

Direct confrontation, although viscerally satisfying and in some ways, brave, doesn’t always work.  I found a more soft spoken method of dealing with careless remarks by Ash Huang in Lean Out:

I don’t laugh nervously when people say careless things.

This is one I learned from the trolls. When someone makes a racist comment or sweeps someone into stereotype, I ask that person to explain the joke to me. For instance:

A laughing group of random blonde women cross the street in SOMA. A man I’m with says in falsetto: “Ha ha ha, look at us, marketing is like, totally the best!”

Me: “Oh, they’re in marketing? How do you know them? Are they old co-workers of yours?”

Trolling carelessness works because this kind of injustice thrives on community. People are blindly intolerant because they are rewarded for shunning and fearing the Other. When you refuse to participate in a universe where women are weak and inconsequential, women become more than a generalization. The shared joke is no longer funny because there’s no more shared joke to speak of.