I have a friend who’s brought the topic of sexism to the discussion table a number of times, and it’s been on my mind as a result. I believe I have a concise way of explaining the cause of our existing sexism problems:
Up until around 50 years ago–i.e. for the last tens of thousands of years–women have been considered “things”, and men have been considered “those who get things”.
The fact that this ancient reality has not been eradicated in the eye-blink of the social equality movement should fail to surprise anyone.
Much of the feminist thinking on the topic favors the the moralistic fallacy–the belief that if something is right (equal rights for women) then it should be found in the real world. Reality is far more cynical than that.
Slavery is natural. Racism is natural. And so is sexism. We are primates pretending not to be, and every step on the ascent up Mt. Moral will be taxed by the gravity of our animal selves. The fact that these things are natural doesn’t mean we stop working against them, but it does mean we can stop looking for less obvious reasons for their existence. Alas, no additional actors are required 1.
So I join you in opposing sexism wherever it emerges, but not in assuming it’s some recently contrived tool devised by evil men. We are still the animals we used to be, and unnecessary mystery greets us whenever we forget this. ::