“But I’m Not Sexist” Isn’t a Good Excuse

The best way to weed out boys on Tinder is to agree with their compliments. The good ones will appreciate the self-love, but the bad ones will call you self-centered. They need to be needed. They want to believe that they hold the key to your confidence: that you are only beautiful if and when they tell you that it is true. If you believe that you are beautiful without their help, their power is taken away. You are unable to be controlled: you are undesirable. For what is a relationship if not an unequal power dynamic?

This is what it has to come to. We live in a world where feminism is a dirty word, where people believe that they are not sexist if they aren’t raping or harassing women, where a self-imposed label is supposed to cancel out sexist behavior.

“I’m not a feminist. I believe in equality.” “I’m not sexist. I respect women.”

Spoiler alert: Just because you don’t identify as a sexist doesn’t mean that it is not true. Anyway, it is not up to you to decide. Sexism already has a predetermined definition: “prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex.” People are unwilling to identify themselves as sexist because they don’t want to take responsibility for their behavior.

We know that being called a sexist is bad. But what about subtle sexism? What about power structure? What about rape culture? Sexism pervades every aspect of our everyday lives, and you’re encouraging it if you aren’t working to stop it. It’s that simple.

If you only identify as a feminist only because you’re “not like other girls,” you are a sexist. Femininity is not a punchline. Asking a man if he’s on his period when he’s acting emotionally is not progressive. Tearing down other women for their traditionally feminine interests is not insightful. Being “one of the boys” is a choice, not a way to show that you are somehow superior to women who like wearing makeup and heels. Judging women for their femininity or assigning feminine insults to men only serves to further the idea that being a woman is somehow lesser. There is nothing wrong with being a woman. There is a lot wrong with being a sexist.

If you identify as a feminist only because you think it will get girls to sleep with you, you are a sexist. Trying to rope a girl in by pleading and promising that “you were always so nice” to her is emotional abuse. You expect her to give you everything, but don’t think about whether or not you have done anything to deserve it. This girl owes you nothing. Next time you walk a girl home, don’t pat yourself on the back for your chivalry. Think about why she feels unsafe walking alone at night. Think about why you don’t. Think about speaking out against harassment when you see it so that she feels she can exist in this world confidently.

Work to fix the system instead. Actions, not words, change the world.

Don’t say “I’m not sexist.” Show it. If we all take a stand against sexism with our actions instead of our words, we can create a more equal world for everyone. See everyone as a person worthy of respect.

Be a good person. Don’t be sexist. Please.

Leana Reich is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania studying Cultural and Linguistic Anthropology. She loves to explore cities, particularly by way of coffee shops and museums, and doesn’t properly understand how lucky she is to have lived at the beach her entire life. She does understand how lucky she is to have such an amazing mom as a role model and appreciates her every day.

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