January 14, 2014

WELL, THAT’S HOW SOME PEOPLE WANT US TO HAVE MOST OF THESE “CONVERSATIONS” ON VARIOUS TOPICS: Megan McArdle: You Can’t Have A Conversation About Sexism At Gunpoint.

At some level, many of the people who do this have to know that they’re trying to have it both ways: They would genuinely like to gently convince people that there is much more subtle structural sexism out there than they understand … and they would also like to be able to get their political opponents hounded out of office for making sexist remarks. And though I will not name names, for the very reasons stated above, let me point out that many of these people seem to think that this is what a conversation looks like:

Person A: I have a grievance.

Person B: I am so sorry! What is your grievance?

Person A: Your behavior is sexist. Here’s why. [Insert description of sexist behavior.]

Person B: I had no idea! I feel terrible. I must be a terrible person. I will assiduously try to eradicate this horrible sexism from my soul.

Person A: You are not necessarily a terrible person. Everyone is a little bit sexist. We must all assiduously try to eradicate this horrible sexism from our souls.

Person B: I am so glad we had this conversation. [Hug.]

Actual conversations mean that the person you’re conversing with may have some other reaction than “You’re right, I agree, this is wrong.” But the power of an accusation of sexism, particularly when a woman is accusing a man, is such that it’s very hard to have anything approaching an actual discussion. His side is already scripted, and his lines consist of craven apology.

Men know this, of course, which is why they increasingly avoid such situations. Overall, this is bad for women. Also, I think far fewer people outside of (overwhelmingly female, and sexist, HR departments) take accusations of sexism nearly as seriously as they used to anymore. Inflated currencies lose their value.