Sexism is Hard to Explain
Kel Campbell

The things that derail conversations, about any topic, not just sexism is when a minor thing is brought into the larger conversation about the major thing and given equivalence. You can see it in any topic from drugs to taxes.

When having a conversation around sexism the inclusion of holding doors (or offering a seat on a bus as someone noted in the comments) with everything else mentioned is where it breaks down.

Holding a door or offering a seat is done to be polite and a regular reminder to put other people before yourself.

Yelling and stares are the result of objectification. Shushing and dismissals are done to demean and control.

This is why the conversations derail when these are lumped together. I grew up in South Carolina and I’ve been raised my entire life to hold doors, give up my seat and offer to help people if I see that they need it. At this point it’s quite literally part of who I am. I don’t limit those habits to women either…it’s just good manners.

The other things mentioned are actions that I would be ashamed of.

When the two are given any degree of equivalence, what you’re essentially telling me is that you see my attempts at kindness as somehow aggressive and at that point there’s very little that we’re going to be able to do to work through it since we aren’t going to see eye to eye on the matter.

So if the world at large wants to have a real conversation about sexism, it would be a good idea to focus on the real problems.

My wife experienced all of the things you’ve described and I know how uncomfortable they made her. She’s never once complained about somebody holding a door and was always extremely puzzled whenever people from outside the area would get upset when others did. It’s one of those things that simply doesn’t make sense and I’m genuinely curious where this idea comes from.

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