It reminds me of a post I was thinking of making about how the more I deconstruct, the more sexism I find. And the more I think about these things, the more I feel that I don't just want to smile awkwardly and shuffle my feet till the conversation passes and I don't have to feel uncomfortable anymore.
Like, just now, I found myself having to reply to a couple of male responses by saying "*I* find it offensive" .. as though, if they decide that they are not sexist (and I'm not saying that they, as people, are sexist nor that they intended to be sexist), then what they have said, no matter how subtle, cannot therefore be sexist. Even though, as a female, I happened to find it offensive. Or like, if it's trivial, then it doesn't really matter. What it says, and again I am not saying those men are sexist, is that my feelings are *wrong*. And ... I'm at a place in my life now where I own my own feelings and reactions. If I feel offended by comments, or I feel they were subtly sexist, I don't need someone else to check for me as to whether I am *allowed* to be offended. And when I turn around and say it, I no longer mediate whether my feelings are right or wrong, depending on whether the person agrees or not.
I guess my total favourite is: you just don't have a sense of humour. On two separate occasions in the recent past two men, who are very close to me and who have been influential in my being a feminist, told jokes that I didn't laugh at and in fact made me feel uncomfortable. On both of those occasions I said that in fact I didn't think those jokes were funny. And that I actually was offended by them. Both times those men were shocked because they don't think they are sexist, and they aren't, so then, what they said couldn't possibly have been. Interestingly my mother was there both times and was asked as mediator and hesitantly agreed that actually she was offended too. Because of course, as I went on to explain, it's not that I lack a sense of humour, it's that I, and usually my intelligence, are the butt of the joke - these jokes usually play on the stereotype that women are stupid or that they should be back being subservient in some way. And since I am not those things, I can't really be a part of the joke - I am the thing, afterall, that they are laughing at. When explained that way, the person telling the joke is uncomfortable. Because it is what it is.
The thing I guess I am saying is, often I feel uncomfortable by subtle nuiances in language or "trivialities" and I think what I coming to realise is that if these subtleties are still a part of our every day discourse, then we are complicit in the assumptions and stereotypes upon which they are based. And I think actually, a lot of women are made slightly uncomfortable but don't say anything because they aren't big deals, we should be fighting the big issues and they don't want to look like they don't have a sense of humour. But just because people don't pull you up on them, doesn't mean you don't offend people. Or make them feel uncomfortable.
Like telling them that they are wrong to feel a way that they do.