The personal website of Chris Coyier

The Five Stages of Understanding Sexism

I regularly think back to this article by Jess Zimmerman on Time.com. Particularly this bit where she speculates on men’s path of understanding sexism:

  1. Sexism is a fake idea invented by feminists
  2. Sexism happens, but the effect of “reverse sexism” on men is as bad or worse
  3. Sexism happens, but the important part is that I personally am not sexist
  4. Sexism happens, and I benefit from that whether or not I personally am sexist
  5. Sexism happens, I benefit from it, I am unavoidably sexist sometimes because I was socialized that way, and if I want to be anti-sexist I have to be actively working against that socialization

I think about it when some new nasty gender-related news thing happens and you can see the reactions coming in from people at all these different levels. #3 sticks out for me, with the “UGHCK, OTHER PEOPLE are so awful.” style reactions, which are trying to be sympathetic but smell a little of “Good thing I’M ABSOLUTELY NEVER LIKE THAT. Go me!” I’m 100% guilty of this. I think I float around between #3 and #5 and actively wish I was better about it, but don’t do as much as I should.