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Amy,

I'm looking for feedback. When is it not judgmental and unfair to be intolerant of others sexist/homophobic comments? I'm not saying that people who make them are "bad" people in any way. I also don't start lecturing people. I just feel so down to my core that this language and these beliefs are not okay, that it is hard for me to be okay with them or not be stirred up by them. I feel that many people treat me like having feminist beliefs is a religion and that I need to be more respectful of others rights to think and say otherwise. Am I oppressing others when I feel that sexism/homophobia aren't okay? Is there anyone else who isn't okay with this out there? I'm feeling very isolated and like I need to apologize for my beliefs.

-Deby

Dear Deby,

I don't think that we should tolerate any sexist or homophobic or racist comments - however, while most people have learned that it's not okay to promote racist jokes, we haven't made that much progress when it comes to gender and sexuality. In communicating our perspective to other people - i.e. "what you are saying makes me uncomfortable and is wrong or inappropriate" - we have to remember that there are basically three types of people. One, those who, like us, share these feelings, and therefore are unlikely to make such comments and if they do are likely to understand that it wasn't appropriate. Two, those who won't get it no matter how much we impress it upon them, and are just in such deep denial and/or really hate people who are not like them. The third group are those who don't realize that what they are saying is inappropriate or downright wrong. This is the group to focus on - and to find a way to help them understand how misunderstood their comments could be. For instance, would they make a similar comment if it reflected onto black people? Probably not. I don't think that you are taking anything too personally - you are making up for other people's lack of feeling and perspective. I hope that helps and that you keep speaking up.

Amy

 

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