Just stop. Stop right there.
Any sentence that starts with the words “I’m not sexist, but…” or “I’m not racist, but…” is likely to rapidly contradict itself.
People often say these words in the mistaken belief that simply saying “I’m not sexist, but…” will be enough to exempt them from the responsibility of the offensive comment they are about to make.
The increasing prevalence of these kinds of statements demonstrates one of the more annoying effects of political correctness, in that people with controversial opinions are more concerned about others thinking that they are racist, or otherwise discriminatory, than scrutinising the actual content of their real beliefs and statements.
“I’m not sexist, but…”, “I’m not racist, but…” is just a plea for acceptance from others, not an attempt to be more accepting and self-aware in good faith. Thus, this genre of false-fronted statements reveals that the speaker is more afraid to be branded as racist or sexist, than to even acknowledge to themselves their own prejudices.
I witnessed one of these “but” comments the other day whilst talking about Brexit (Don’t mention the war). Half-way through my epilogue, which was requested I might add, a man (not using the word gentle here) turns and says: “I’m not being sexist, but you should be thankful that you women are allowed to vote in the first place! Fifty years ago you would be relying on us to make the right decision”.
Firstly, women got the vote in 1918, so that’s almost a hundred years ago…
Secondly, where do I start. You are bloody sexist. Your use of the titular “but” does not condone your statement, nor exempt you from being a misogynistic pig.
However, what brassed me off the most about his comment wasn’t even his ignorant views that women should be thankful for the right to vote. It was the use of ‘you women’.
I started to do some reading regarding women and the vote, and in almost every news article that I happened to read I kept seeing the term ‘Women’s Vote’. The more I started seeing these words the more wound up I got.
All women are different. Women are as likely to vote as differently to each other as men are. I feel the term ‘Women’s Vote’ just bundles us all together as one, which is extremely patronising and offensive. No one, after all, talks about ‘Men’s Vote’.
As women make up 52% of the British electorate, we potentially have a bigger say during elections and referendums, yet we tend to be clumped together as one.
How archaic. I feel like I’m in a scene on the Titanic when the men withdraw to the smoking room for brandy and to discuss politics, whilst the feeble women sit and talk about fashion and other pretty little things.
One of the biggest myths of this so-called post-sexist society is that this kind of overt, interpersonal sexism is a thing of the past. So, as we continue working to dismantle systemic sexism, demoralizing comments about ‘Women’s Vote’, and phrases such as “I’m not sexist, but..”, is a reminder that we most definitely are not ‘singing from the same hymn sheet’. What a shame.