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Sexism and Sexists: What did you call me?

One of the problems facing feminist discourse in the United States (it probably exists in other places, but I’m speaking from my own experience) is a conflation of action, intention and identity. Which is to say, when an action is deemed sexist or in some way problematic, it is almost automatically assumed by the public at large that this is an ascription of malicious intent, along with a deeming of the person at fault to be in some way a fundamentally bad person. It probably began with Locke, when in a single sentence of the Second Treatise on Government, he discusses a murder, and then calls the perpetrator a murderer. It’s also probably a cognitive bias of some kind. Whatever the source, this phenomenon undermines the ability of feminists to engage in criticism of actions or messages found in the broader culture, since these frequently stem from the choices of a single individual or organized group, and such entities tend not to take kindly to being called sexist, misogynistic, privileged, or something similar.

Even if they are! Read on for how this applies to the DSK and BHL cases

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