Chances are, you’re going to do something sexist. We’re living in cultures drowning in sexism. We’ve been raised with it; we’re swimming in it; like air, we’re so immersed in it we’re often barely aware of it. Makes it rather inevitable we’ll do or say something more or less sexist.
Yes, I said “we.” I’m not exempt. I say or think or do something sexist at least once a day, and that’s just the stuff I’m aware of. Constant battle, this, overcoming sexism.
Does this make me a sexist? Not especially.
And that’s the thing, isn’t it, that you must remember when you’re being called out on something you’ve said or done, some act or omission on your part. We’re imperfect human beings swimming in a sea of sexism, and we’re going to fuck up. Inevitably.
But fucking up doesn’t make someone a sexist. Just makes you a person who did a sexist thing. What makes you something else is what happens next.
Do you apologize and make a course correction? Reassess certain of your assumptions? Continue working against sexism and misogyny rather than, oh, say, running off in a snit to join up with certain of the community who revel in gendered slurs? Then it’s quite doubtful you actually are an actual sexist.
If, on the other hand, you howl in protest and scream about vicious witch hunts and insist the things you did or said aren’t a problem, then you begin to be a bit questionable. And if you really believe you’re not sexist because science proves the sexes are totes different, and besides, you can do whatever you like because reasons, then there’s an excellent chance you’ve crossed the line somewhere and become a really-real sexist. (In which case, do come see me when you’ve had an epiphany and wish to shed your sexist prat nature. I’ll be glad to help. Until that happy day, kindly fuck off.)
Most of us aren’t complete prats. So, chances are good you’re not a really-real sexist, but have merely screwed up. No need to feel like you’re the scum of the earth, because you’re not. No need to get ultra-defensive and proclaim you’re not a sexist from every rooftop, because it’s probably already clear you’re not, and even if it isn’t, it will be once you’ve issued a thoughtful response. You’ve been chastised, not convicted and sentenced. Your life is not in ruins, your reputation is not in tatters; you have not been branded with a scarlet S and banished to dwell forever among the dregs of society.
You’re just in the midst of a learning experience. You can make it out intact, tactfully, and with your non-sexist creds fully established.