“Hipster Sexism”: Just as Bad as Regular Old Sexism, or Worse?
by Kelsey Wallace,bitchmagazine.org/ – As the saying goes, “If you hate hipsters, you probably are one.” This is because, while many of us are familiar with the term (especially if describes us), it is obnoxious and has been used to identify numerous non-trends, from mustaches to homesteading to beer to bellies caused by beer. These things exist whether hipsters claim them or not, and drowning them in irony does nothing to change their nature. More usefully though, hipsterism has also been called out in conjunction with other isms like racism and, in a New York magazine piece from earlier this week, sexism.
Hipster sexism, also known as ironic sexism or liberal sexism, is the notion that if sexism done is tongue-in-cheek it’s okay, even hilarious. As s.e. smith points out at xoJane, this idea is nothing new (read s.e.’s piece if you haven’t already because ou does some important work reminding us why we shouldn’t just claim ideas as our own when someone else thought of them before we did). The concept has resurged this week though, and it’s worth talking about it again. Alissa Quart, the author of the NYMag piece, defines it thusly:
Hipster Sexism consists of the objectification of women but in a manner that uses mockery, quotation marks, and paradox: the stuff you learned about in literature class.
Basically, hipster sexism is when people who should “know better”—progressive people with possible college degrees who are maybe environmentally conscious and probably liberal and might even identify as feminists—are ironically sexist. This includes women posing for the male gaze (but ironically!) in ads, creepy sexual predators continuing to amass cultural capital even though they’re awful, popular tv shows that normalize calling your sister a “skank,” and basically any time someone has sexually harassed you or told you to get back in the kitchen BUT AS A JOKE.
While actually sexist, of course, hipster sexism is different from what Quart defines as “Classic Sexism.” A hipster sexist calls you a bitch and tells you to shut up but in a funny way, while a classic sexist tells you your rape was God’s will without a hint of ironiy. Both are douchebags, but the hipster sexist is a douchebag in enlightened clothing (see also: the nice guy™, the hipster racist). Hipster sexism hinges on the assumption that “no one thinks this way anymore” and therefore it’s funny, like making a joke about horses and buggies or something. It allows for sexist comments under the guise of being sooo far above them, and it’s a lot harder to call out than non-ironic, old-fashioned sexism. (Ah, those were the days. JK I am being ironic! See?)