Am I Sexist?

I am not sexist.  Really, I am not.  Also, I have never google-image searched naked pictures of the T-Mobile girl and/or tried to friend her on facebook.  But denials have a curious way of making people wonder why they are necessary.  Indeed, some have expressed concern over my alleged sexism, especially after watching my Fox5 interview.  Towards the end I make this unfortunate statement which, quite understandably, I have been asked to explain: “I also think I’m not special in this [this pulling people off the third rail business].  I think there are tons of men and boys out there that would have done the exact same thing.”

Yup.  Men and boys.  Exactly.  Good thing they did not include the rest of the interview, cause I go on to expound on how all women and girls are worthless cowards.  No.  That is not a true story.  The host, Angelique Proctor, understood what I meant when she said, “Jeremy…believes any of us would have had a similar reaction.”  So why did I say “men and boys”?

Obviously, cause I was a tad stupid.  I cringe when I hear the line.  Alicia cringed too while watching the interview from the other side of our living room.  This was my first interview, and my worst.  I was clueless.  This experience makes me extremely patient with celebrities and politicians who get in trouble because of sound bites.  I have been saying for years that if I was a celebrity I would get caught saying idiotic things all the time.  And, in my fifteen minutes of fame, I proved myself prescient.

Fortunately context saves me.  Often it will not.  I do, in fact, consistently say dumb things.  But this time context saves me.  At the beginning of the interview Angeligue had asked me why I grabbed the guy.  In my answer, I talked, among other things, about how I had been an adventurous, daydreaming boy, who often imagined the day I would rescue damsels in distress on a semi-weekly basis.  As I grew older and started lifting and working out, ostensibly for sports, I knew it was in fact secret superhero training.  Though overstated, I think this rings true for many other boys who, like me, grow up to be men but never quite lost those specific daydreams.  There are lots and lots of us out there.

The “men and boys” comment was meant to bring this context to bear in order to support the broader point that there are many others who would have acted similarly.  Some of these people would be, I think, the people who had developed the silly and noble psychosis that I had.  So I was in fact making fun of men and boys a bit, and my comment was inclusive, not meant to exclude others from being brave, but to note that one of the groups that would be brave in these sorts of situations is a group I have already mentioned.  Of course, none of this was clear from the interview.

There are those who had concerns before the “men and boys” comment.  I certainly hold beliefs and ideas that some find sexist-ish and I espouse them liberally (or conservatively?).  I do not think they are sexist, and Alicia does not think they are sexist either, at least not usually.  I plan on blogging about them and the reader can decide for his or her self.  In the meantime, please accept my apologies if you were offended by my comment on Fox5.  I assure you, in this case at least, I was not sexist, but merely dumb.

About Jer Clifton

Look up, friend. The world is too beautiful for my eyes alone. View all posts by Jer Clifton

14 responses to “Am I Sexist?

  • George Zimmerman and Me « Jer's Intellectual Adventures

    […] was not good at interviews at first.  You can see my “men and boys” epic fail here.  But I watched  Zimmerman’s brother on Piers Morgan’s show doing incredibly well […]

  • JDW Clifton

    I agree. But people can still exhibit discriminatory behavior without being discriminatory. In other words, you can still discriminate without intending to, and that is a problem. I would, however, claim that it is a problem that is probably not worth getting angry over.

    Also, the claim that someone is racist or sexist is a very very big claim. It is saying, “I have seen into your heart and it is black.” I find it bizarre that we are so quick to make those claims.

  • Nathan C. Clifton

    Ahh! But see that is my point. Intentions are what matter when we attach labels to people. I have always thought that when someone calls something discriminatory that they perceive an attempt by the other person to subjugate someone under an ideology. If no judgement on intention is created then what is being said is that someone is mis-informed and if they are mis-informed about something that seems obvious we call that stupid.

    SOOO…back to my original post. You were claiming in your post that you just said something stupid. The reaction to this is for someone to verify that you now know the power of media, the right words, the ridiculous of soundbites so that you don’t say something stupid again. But like you said, stupidity is excusable (especially in small doses). Most of what we label as insensitive is stupid and should be treated that way. The only thing that should be gotten up in arms about is intent. When they are shown how what they are doing effects someone and they perpetuate, that is discriminatory…otherwise it is plain old dumbness. Getting mad over dumbness is…dumb

  • Nathan C. Clifton

    I think Alicia would be very encouraging in a situation like that.

    I wish people would stop being offended by people not trying to offend them. Jeremy, you have a poster of Mao in your house. Some people might be offended by that. However, it would be ridiculous to say that you are communist because you have a poster of a communist. It is just as ridiculous to say that someone is sexist because they said or wrote something that could be interpreted that way.

    If you will follow my convoluted logic I would like to demonstrate how labelers of sexism are discriminatory. Person A says men are stronger than women. Person B says that is sexist! However, a fundamental assertion in this statement is that strength is a valuable thing to have. It is better to have strength than to not have strength or else the denunciation would be meaningless. So, if strength is a good value then people who have strength are more valuable than similar people with no strength. Therefor they are discriminating against the weak by calling them devoid of a valuable commodity. They are being…forcist!

    If I choose to take their statement that way and become offended (because I am weak), then apparently it is up to them to make reparations or risk being saddled with a label.

    • Alicia Clifton

      Thanks Nathan! You get to have some of the cookies

    • JDW Clifton

      Nathan, I actually think that people who are not trying to offend are not off the hook, although your point certainly still stands: intentions matter. But there’s a nuanced middle ground here somewhere, though I will be making this comment about the other side:

      There is plenty that we do in economic development, in helping the poor, in helping, anyone really, that causes them to be ultimately worse off. What we do might increase the number of afflicted people, it might build dependencies, it might incentivize vice, etc. The point is that if we love these people, we will be intensely interested in the affect that our behavior has on them.

      Similarly, when we behave around the people that we love, people who already have good intentions toward us, we can still hurt each other deeply. We can act disrespectfully, meanly, we can aggravate emotional wounds, we can say, straight up, stupid ass things, and even have stupid ass opinions. I find it is an enormous excuse to say that none of these things should happen because our intentions were pure. In fact, I would say that pure intentions mandate a deep and enduring concern with what the affects are of what you do, which have nothing to do with your intentions.

      Also, in conflict situations, I find that going to the intentions point is done too quickly. If you say something that makes me feel stupid, and the first thing that you say when I bring it up is that you did not mean to make me feel stupid, that might help, it is part of it, but I probably did not think you meant to make me feel that way, but I still have questions of “do you think I am stupid?” or “are you willing to change your behavior because of how it makes me feel?” etc. The underlying issue is likely my own insecurities is most of these instances, but talking about the intentions of the offender often does little to assuage the fears of the offended and insecure.

      ok…that was long. But yeah, I still pretty much agree with you : ) I just think that intentions matter and are also definitely not the only thing that matters.

  • Alicia Clifton

    So harsh…. so true…. I make great vegan chocolate chip cookies though!

  • Anonymous

    i don’t think you are sexist or dumb. I think people are too picky these days. Keep the main thing the main thing. And you did…..others need to get a life or go save one, however that may look for whatever gender they are. Bill wonders how many women would have been able to raise that man off the rail to safety. That is not sexist, just a matter of fact.

    • JDW Clifton

      oh absolutely. you would only want people to jump down on the tracks or grab the guy if they were capable of quick effective help, otherwise they would be uselessly endangering themselves. Alicia, for instance, would be completely useless.

  • Nathan C. Clifton

    I was right with you in the comment. I knew where you were coming from. I do think it is HILARIOUS that you (and virtually everybody) would rather be dumb than sexist. I know that I would rather people think I was a massive dufus (a deep unchangeable character flaw) than think I said something that was in some way too “isty” (a changeable ideology).

    • JDW Clifton

      There is truth to that. But I am comforted by the fact that very few people (that I know of at least) think that I am truly dumb. I can do the occasional stupid thing and get away with it because we all do dumb things. But being sexist is not understandable the way that making mistakes is.

      Yeah, I think that people who know me and know my opinions about gender and have heard me talk about it would have known what I meant. Nonetheless, I did get a number of people who asked me about it. It really did bother some good people. It made me not want to take the jocular tone that I took in the post. But I hope people realize that while sexism is a serious issue, my sexism is not serious.

  • Chris

    Don’t sweat it bro, It happens to all of us who end up with a camera and microphone stuck in our faces with no preparation or coaching – I remember being embarrassed about a similar experience I had on the local news, inadvertently using the hideous phrase “these people. . .” in reference to refugees…

    Fortunately, most people either don’t catch it or give you grace, as you said, because of the context – we are usually our own worst critics when it comes to this stuff.

    • JDW Clifton

      Thanks man. I appreciate it. Oooh! “These people” that’s unfortunate : )

      People both give grace and do not. I am amazed at how little grace we give TV personalities, celebrities, politicians, anyone who ever spends anytime on camera really. We feel this freedom to judge them. Its too bad. Because that freedom to believe the worst about people affects how we view humanity as a whole, as well as other things I”m sure.

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