How To Deal With Sexist Friends

sexist friends comic

hello all,
As nice as it would be to only surround yourself with people who are on your level politically, it’s not always the case. Friendships happen for a lot of reasons — from sense of humor to reasons of convenience (ie your “we have class/work together” friends), and that’s totally okay!
What’s not okay is finding out your friend has some stealth sexism in their worldview that flew under your radar. While “fixing” someone is generally a waste of time, it’s worth a shot to communicate your issues with their words/actions and at least try to resolve them.
There are a couple of good tactics to bring up the subject with a friend without creating a blow-up level of conflict. For example:
  • GIVE THEM SOME HOMEWORK: While it’s not your duty to educate every stray misogynist that barks at your heels demanding you debate them, giving your friend a way to find out the basics is just something you gotta do. Compile a few quick, relevant links and drop them in your pal’s inbox with a thoroughly passive aggressive “this reminded me of our earlier conversation xoxo.”
  • SHUT DOWN THE CONVERSATION: If someone is talking trash about other girls, make it clear that you will not participate in any conversation that does so. Literally just say “I won’t talk to you if you’re going to bring other girls down” and then change the subject. If they keep trying, just walk out. It will become abundantly clear to your subject that their undesirable behavior is not going to get them anywhere, and ideally they’ll suppress it in your presence.
  • BE PERSISTENT! People rarely change their beliefs on social issues overnight, so you’re going to have to keep at it. If you’ve ever trained a dog, you know that consistency is key — giving your pup scraps even 10% of the time is a surefire way to begging central. (Let it be noted that I give my dog scraps)
    You’re literally going to have to speak up every time your friend is sexist, and interrupt them. have the conversation on the spot, or at the very least shortly after. Immediate and jarring feedback will make a big impression.
  • CHOOSE YOUR WORDS AND WATCH YOUR TONE: It’s very very easy to get Fired Up when taking down the patriarchy but: you do not want your friend to feel attacked/defensive. For the first or second “hey that was sexist” convo, use a cool, even tone and choose phrases that give your friend the benefit of the doubt. (For example: “I know you probably didn’t mean to imply…” or “I feel like [that thing you just said] is problematic…”)
    Now, don’t get me wrong. usually I don’t advocate for attacking misogyny with sugar. In this rare case though, your first goal is to persuade your friend to change their mind/cut that shit out, and people shut down if they feel like they’re being yelled at. You’re trying to manipulate them, at least a little bit, and you’re gonna have to channel your persuasive powers. However, if that doesn’t work…
  • KNOW WHEN TO REEVALUATE THE FRIENDSHIP: A little bit of low level sexism kind of happens just from living in a shitty society, and depending on the friend, may actually be worth dealing with on a case by case basis. However, if your friend’s sexism is in any way making them treat you without respect, it’s time to cut the cord. Think about if their sexism is causing them to treat you poorly, if you think it’s likely to change, and make your decision by trusting your heart. It’s hard to do, but if they’re going to be unkind to you because of their own skewed worldview, then they are not your true-blue friend anyway.


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