By Olivia Haas and Alexandra Feldhausen
To those that read the title and know what we are talking about. You KNOW what we are talking about. For those that don’t have a clue, we will let you in on the secret: there are sexist people at SIPA. Many of them are masking themselves as nice liberals that are past the need for feminism or the necessity of self-reflection. They are attending our events, lurking our halls, trolling our whatsapp groups, taking over our classrooms, and mansplaining their way into our conversations.
For those that know, this is a list that puts a name and description to what you are already well aware of, the many variations of male entitlement to space and conversation. For those that don’t, now you can keep your eyes peeled and minds reflective, because these types could be much closer than you think…
The Mansplainer (the Condescender): “Don’t you love it when people explain things to you that you already know?,” said no one ever. This classic rendition of the sexist tends to think that everyone knows less than he does. While this need-to-explain trait bridges gender lines (we’ve done it. we’ll admit it.), this particular person tends to be a man who typically only, or primarily, explains unnecessary things to women. Sure, sometimes it is hard to be fully aware of another’s knowledge base, but there are also some things that people just know. Examples of things that have been mansplained to us: birthday candles, National Geographic, the fact that there are elections this year, and my college major (after I told the person the name of it and that I had just graduated). If this hasn’t happened to you, ask a woman the nonsense that has been explained to her. We absolutely dare you.
Interrupter: The title really explains it all. STOP DOING THIS.
Man-Only Talker/The Disregarder: This person refers back only to the men in the conversation. It doesn’t matter how many women are there or who asked the questions. It’s as if the women, and often especially women of color, do not exist. FYI boys, women are just as (if not more) interesting in conversation than you are.
The Freeloader (Type: CEO Complex): The type that contributes little to the front-loaded parts of a project, but then insists on being the one to give the presentation. They pass ideas off as their own and present them with confidence, and are subsequently rewarded not for their competence, but for their confidence in owning the ideas of others. That’s, honestly, super rude. Give credit where credit is due.
The Flirter: This person is tricky, because until you have confirmed it with other people it’s very difficult to know if it’s just you. The Flirter has an incredible knack for taking very platonic, normal conversation and transforming it into flirtation. Example:
Woman: “Hey, how is Macro going?”
Man: “Oooh, why do you want to know? Why are smiling like that?”
Woman: “Um, this is just my face.”
Man: “Haha ok… it’s going alright. How are yoooouu doing? I have heard you’ve been studying really HARD.”
Honestly, sometimes I am not even mad. I am just impressed, but also, STOP IT. Read the signals, check the body language, if she seems like she is just asking you about Macro, she is probably just asking you about Macro. Sure, modern dating is difficult. At the same time though, we are all adults, and as an adult, it’s your responsibility to make sure that you are reading the room. If you are wondering if someone likes you, you can always say something like, “Hi, I think you’re a really lovely person. Would you like to go on a date with me?” It’s just a thought.
The Devil’s Advocate: Honestly, why do people want to advocate for the Devil? He’s the freaking DEVIL. This person will take on the hegemonic perspective, when you already get the hegemonic perspective. It’s ALL AROUND US. Still don’t understand? Read “An Open Letter to Privileged People Who Play Devil’s Advocate.”
The “Ally”: We have saved this one for last, because it’s one of the most pernicious and dangerous ones at SIPA. The “Ally” is a designation for those men that really “get it.” They say they are feminists; they vocally advocate for women’s rights; and they attend gender-centered club meetings. On paper, they are really great, and in some ways, women that know them feel they should be grateful for their presence and advocacy. It’s wonderful to have some men finally recognizing people’s full humanity.
And that’s why it’s so terrible when they do all the things that the other sexists on this list do. These men often fail to recognize that they are a part of the problem, because how could they and their ‘woke-ness’ in any way also perpetuate misogyny? Words mean nothing without action, and their actions are often exclusionary, dismissive, or dripping with entitlement.
So, there you go! A list, albeit incomplete, of the sexists to watch out for. We understand we have not named all women's experiences (at SIPA or otherwise) nor the specific ways in which trans or gender queer people experience discrimination, but we have tried to give names to things we have seen, heard about, or experienced.
Anyway, since we only have one month where we get to talk about this feminist nonsense, we have to start it off right. Happy Women’s History Month!