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Guest Column: Women can’t be sexist

Erin encountered a man who was critical of OU’s Women’s Center and writes about her experience.


On Friday afternoon, I was tabling outside of Baker Center for the International Women's Day Festival held Sunday by the Ohio University Women’s Center when a man came up to me saying the Women's Center should be shut down because it is sexist against men.

He said that while in a recent job interview, the female interviewer remarked, “all white men created poverty.” The man said he had the “equivalent of eight college degrees” but this woman wasn’t going to be fair in her hiring because of her comment. I apologized for his experience and explained that one woman does not represent all women or the entirety of feminism, which works toward the equality of both sexes and all genders — not women over men — socially and economically. He told me he supports equity feminism but not gender feminism, which the Women’s Center apparently promotes. I again apologized that his experiences caused him to have that view, but responded saying that it wasn’t representative of the entire movement. He said it’s not just his experience, but that of a lot of men. Then he left.

But a few minutes later, he came back, this time more hostile with his words. He claimed that it was sexist that the multicultural center has a “Women of Appalachia” group, but not a “Men of Appalachia” group. “How is that not sexist?” he said. I started to explain that women can’t be sexist, that reverse racism doesn’t exist, but he cut me off before I could finish. He started yelling, “That’s bullshit! That is complete bullshit!” and walked away. I tried calling after him, asking him to hear me out, but he just kept walking.

So, sir, if you are reading this, please listen. Women cannot be sexist; the same way people of color cannot be racist. In the 2014 film Dear White People, the main character says, “Black people can't be racist. Prejudice, yes, but not racist. Racism describes a system of disadvantage based on race. Black people can't be racist since we don't stand to benefit from such a system.” Replace “black people” with “women” and “racist/racism/race” with “sexist/sexism/sex” and that is the point I was trying to convey.

Women can be prejudiced against men. But just as #notallmen are sexist, not all women are anti-man. There are many different discourses of feminism, and the majority believe in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.

I’m not an expert on women’s issues, but if I have learned anything from my Women’s and Gender Studies and diversity studies classes, it’s about how to talk about the issues without shutting people down. I stayed calm, I did not raise my voice, I addressed this stranger as “sir” and was as polite as possible. I listened to what he said. I did not cut him off.

But it was no use. The other party must be at least open to hearing an opinion other than his own for a discussion to be had and progress to be made.

This man did not want to debate sexism with me; he wanted to condemn feminism and make himself feel better. No wonder we have a women’s center. We need it. For men, for women, for everyone. We all need to have conversations about what feminism means and how to achieve equality.

Post columnist Jessica Ensley does an amazing job with her column, Lean in Further by discounting reverse sexism and racism. And week after week, men similar to the one I encountered attack her and her views. These commentators make her column all the more necessary.

I can’t speak for Jessica or for all other women and feminists, but I think most would agree when I say that I don’t hate men. I don’t even completely hate sexist, misogynistic “meninists” like the one I encountered. I hate sexism and prejudice and want to have honest conversations with people, especially those who misunderstand the issues. So email me, let’s talk.


Erin Davoran is a junior studying journalism and a reporter for The Post. Email her at or find her on Twitter at @erindavoran.

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