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Teaching through condescension doesn't work

I love stuff like this, "16 Questions For Men That Reveal The Casual Sexism Women Experience Every Day", in the sense that I despise it. Human interaction is messy and too often hideous. That isn't a shaky limb to walk on. However, in my experience, "gotcha" as a teaching tool is unlikely to convince people who don't already agree. It is built on challenging smug assumptions by making its own smug assumptions. It strengthens defensiveness rather than opening doors.

The list opens with this (links omitted):

Sexism can be hard to point out when it's so engrained in our everyday lives. Clementine Ford, however, found an awesome way to highlight casual sexism with a simple hashtag.

Even though I disagree with the tactic, which is mostly (but not entirely) on how Huffington Post packaged these questions, the goal of challenging sexism deserves answers. First, the two tweets from Clementine Ford that kicked this off:

Question to the male writers/speakers etc out there. Is it common for you to be called an ‘attention seeker’? Or do just women get that?

A: Common? No. Men and women have told me this in debate, though.

#QuestionsForMen: When you have a hostile disagreement with someone, is it common for them to say you’re angry because no one will fuck you?

A: Common? No. Men and women have told me this in debate, though.

And 16 of Huffington Post's favorite #QuestionsForMen tweets (source article has the links):

Q1: Have you ever been told your business ideas are cute? #QuestionsForMen

A1: No.

Q2: #QuestionsForMen Are you comfy with the federal government & Christian conservatives holding decision making parties in your "boy" parts?¹

A2: About that... This routinely happens with "boy" parts. So, no, I am not comfy with others holding decision-making parties for my "boy" parts. Yet, others already made my decision.

This question is why the smug, closed-mind "gotcha" approach is stupid. You want me to think outside the box² you think I'm in? Think outside the box your question shows you're in.

Q3: #questionsformen do you walk home with your keys placed in between your fingers? are you constantly looking over your shoulder?

A3: No.

Q4: @clementine_ford #QuestionsForMen how often do you have to fake laugh at stupid/cringey/creepy/sexist things older men say regarding you?

A4: I've experienced those comments based on me being a ginger. I doubt the things said were as stupid/cringey/creepy/sexist as what is said to women.

Q5: #QuestionsForMen have you ever been late to work because you've had to change streets 5 times in 5minutes to avoid being catcalled by women?

A5: No. Again, I have had people bother me with rude things about being a ginger as I've walked. But I doubt the things said were the same. Nor has it happened a lot.

Q6: Do women jump into your face calling you fat, ugly, or that you "should get raped" for expressing an opinion online? #questionsformen

A6: I've been called names equivalent to fat and ugly for expressing an opinion online. I have not had threats of violence, sexual or otherwise. I have witnessed (and challenged) threats of violence against women and their children for expressing an opinion online.

Q7: #QuestionsForMen When out having a few beers, have you ever said "no" to a woman & then been hassled by her for the rest of the night?

A7: No.

Q8: #questionsformen In a job interview have you ever been asked how you will juggle work and home?

A8: No.

Q9: Do you get told 'you'll change your mind eventually' when you say you don't want to have children? #QuestionsforMen

A9: No. I have been told I should be thankful to my parents for having me circumcised as a healthy infant, even though I oppose it for myself. Similar in the sense that my opinion about myself isn't relevant to what society may expect of me?

Q10: #questionsformen anyone not hire you on the basis of "you're a man - you'll be having a family soon and need to devote time to that." ?

A10: No.

Q11: Do you send your mates a message to let them know you've gotten home safely? #questionsformen

A11: No.

Q12: If you take a leadership position, do you worry about being seen as bossy? Are you called bossy? #questionsformen

A12: No. No.

Q13: #questionsformen when you achieve something great, do you expect the female reporter to say, 'give us a twirl, who are you wearing?'

A13: No.

Q14: #QuestionsForMen Have you ever been basically told that going home with a woman means that she’s entitled to rape you?

A14: No.

Q15: @clementine_ford #QuestionsForMen How often are you expected to provide an explanation for why you didn't change your name to your wife's?

A15: Never. (My wife didn't take my last name. I couldn't care less.)

Q16: Have you ever had a coworker refer to you as sweetheart? #QuestionsForMen

A16: In the context implied here, no.

Sexism exists. In many ways it's systemic. We need to fight it. I don't have all the answers on how. I'm not perfect. I'm paying attention.

**********
¹ This person responded to someone who answered the question with the same point. She wrote:

[@...] Circumcision is NOT in a federal or state law book as a mandate, but is rather a parents' religious or cultural #choice.

This is how to miss the point, to be inside the mental box the original question demonstrated. 1) Why should a boy care whether it's his parents or his government imposing non-therapeutic genital cutting without his consent? 2) The state violating a child's rights is bad. The state permitting parents to violate a child's rights is also bad. And looking the other way matters when Congress (and states) legislated that "parental choice" is gendered. 3) Read the BBC link from my answer above. A German court found circumcision to be a violation. The German Bundestag, with support from Chancellor Angela Merkel, passed legislation to permit circumcision to continue. Twenty members of Congress publicly supported this.

The only valid choice (i.e. #choice) involved in circumcision must be the individual who would be circumcised. This "gotcha" needs rethinking.

² I'm not saying I'm outside (or inside) that box. I want to deal with this honestly. I think I'm good at not perpetuating sexism. I don't assume I am to the point I don't need to consider it regularly.

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