What is sexism?

Content Warning: some of the links in this post contain articles on underage marriage and such stories on (inevitably) rape may trigger survivors. 

Apparently asking asking women to smile is “sexualisation”. Still can’t understand what makes it ‘sexist’. Commenting on a woman’s “charm” has also been condemned as sexist by the Radio National (RN), on the ABC. The spike of number of child brides in Australia?

*Tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet*. To be fair the ABC has published a few  on – line articles and radio transcripts, such as herehere and here. It’s still a pity that I have to use Google to find any evidence though.


People don’t like the Murdoch media (Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph, etc). I get it. But let’s give credit it where it’s due. None of the mainstream media, at least what I’ve seen, a part from the “Daily Telegraph” and a few other media outlets, commented on the worrying increase of children as young as nine being sent overseas to be “married’, i.e. raped, often by much older men. According to current Australian Federal Police statistics, the number of children taken overseas by parents to be subjected to this is 73. I wrote about it here. I argued that there needs to be much more done when it comes to abuse of children – that’s including dealing with cultures that seem to normalise child rape – at least in cultures where it’s widely practised.


Women have every right to speak up about behaviour that they find uncomfortable. Men should adhere to cues that women are giving on whether their conduct makes them feel OK. To me, that’s personal autonomy – something that everybody regardless of gender should be free to exercise. And others should always respect the boundaries of the ohter person, including in a professional or platonic context.

But how can something like  what looks like a compliment cause such a storm when the media on the whole is very quiet about children as young as nine being raped by much older men? That is ridiculous. It’s wrong! It’s why feminism continuously gets a bad name! Enough’s enough. We need to stop attacking those who mean no harm and start condemning those who do! There should always be mores that are used to protect the vulnerable, including children, regardless of cultural background. Anything less should not be tolerated.

And let’s stop screaming and calling everything sexist! It doesn’t do anyone any favours. Neither does falsely calling people sexist – including someone who you don’t like or strongly disagree with on ideological grounds. Can we, those who call ourselves feminists – and even those who reject the label but agree with the underlying principles of gender equality, autonomy, etc, use our voices usefully and call out atrocities against women whenever they occur? There are good cause for feminism in the world, but so – called feminists seem to constantly miss the mark.


What do you think? Do you label yourself a feminist? Why or why not?