Q: How Should I React To Sexism?

Posted on: May 24th, 2011 by Tudor Caradoc-Davies

Q: When a guy makes a sexist remark, is a comeback more likely to stop him in his tracks, or should I just ignore it?

A: I can’t remember the most withering comeback I’ve ever heard because it was probably aimed at me. If it hasn’t been recorded and remixed into a viral YouTube dancehall comedy hit, as far as I’m concerned it didn’t happen. See, men are like evolved rhinos. Butt-scratching, grouchy pachyderms with thick skins, our primary senses may be a bit weak but we can sniff out a reaction from kilometres away. So in your comeback, keep an emotional reaction out of it, even if your blood is boiling.

Whether a comeback will stop a guy depends on him. Most have a limited repartee that they’ve picked up in common parlance among their friends or heard on the idiot box. The same chirps do the rounds. Challenge them and all of a sudden they’re floundering. The trick is for your put-down to look casual, rather than screaming “Eureka!” before delivering it at full screech. The more you react (blushing, voice raised), the more it looks like they’ve hit a nerve… and won. If your comeback targets the logic, veracity, originality and comedy of their comment and is delivered with humour, you will make them look lame. If you simultaneously take a potshot at any one of the following male flashpoints – maturity, intelligence, virility, attractiveness – and deliver it with the eviscerating combo of a smile, condescension and a dismissive air, you’ll shut him up… or provoke an entertaining battle for bystanders.

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