WHAT ABOUT SEXISM?

Today I want to talk about one of the most important questions new clients have for me. Given that I talk about feminism and patriarchy so much, it’s not surprising. The question is: What about sexism?

Since I teach that our thoughts are what determine our reality and that structural oppression exists, how do those two things go together? What are we supposed to do about sexism?

Yes, sexism exists in the sense that there are people who have thoughts about other people being less worthy or inferior based on their gender. Of course that’s true—people with those thoughts exist, and those thoughts create certain feelings, actions, and results for them.

But we still get to decide how to manage our own minds about that reality. It’s a circumstance that someone might decide to act a certain way towards you because of a thought in their head that involves judging you. You get to decide what you want to think and feel about that.

And listen, you can absolutely choose to be angry about that if you want. Any reaction is a choice, and any feeling is a choice.

But I want you to notice how you feel when you resist the fact that discrimination exists.
When you think about how unacceptable it is that other people have a given thought or feeling, you are creating resistance for yourself.

I’m not saying you should be apathetic about sexism, and I’m not saying we shouldn’t work on creating a more equal society. But judging other people or hating them for their thoughts doesn’t change their thoughts. It’s just like being angry at someone else doesn’t punish them. Other people don’t feel your feelings or suffer from your thoughts—only you do.

Whether you’re upset they’re sexist, or that they don’t like the novel you published, or that they don’t want to keep dating you. It doesn’t matter what the thought, feeling, or action they’re having is. If you resist it, you are creating suffering for yourself.

I want to be clear that I am talking about emotional resistance. I’m not talking about political resistance, and I’m not talking about not taking action to make the world a better place. I am talking about believing people who don’t agree with you about the world should not be allowed to think that way. I’m talking about believing that your opinions are objectively correct and other people should share them, and that if they don’t, they are wrong and bad.

That kind of suffering is not motivating or energizing. It’s draining, upsetting, and it makes you feel disempowered and victimized. And that means you have less energy to do good for yourself and the world.

But that’s not the only problem with judging other people for not agreeing with you. The other problem is that when you do so, you’re perpetuating the belief that certain thoughts are morally wrong. And you know who you use that idea against most often? Yourself.

There’s a quote from aboriginal activists in Australia about how our liberation from bondage is inextricably bound up with the liberation of others. That goes both ways. If you want to liberate yourself from the constant moral evaluation of your own thoughts and feelings, from the constant judging of yourself, you also must release the constant moral evaluation and judgment of other people. The more you judge other people, the more you judge yourself, and vice versa.

The most insidious thing about oppression is the way it gets inside our heads and makes us doubt ourselves. When I suggest people switch their mental and emotional energy from being angry about discrimination to their own self-development, I sometimes get accused of telling people to just care about themselves.

But learning how to manage your own mind and emotions is revolutionary. It’s the secret to your own liberation. It’s how to de-program your brain from all of the patriarchal bullshit society’s been teaching you your whole life. What could be more freeing than taking back your own brain, feelings, and experience of the world?

Comments

  1. Amy Lee Stromme

    Thank you. As a social worker, democrat, and the daughter of a man who voted for Trump, I needed this message. I need the energy I waste on resenting other peoples beliefs! Thanks for the wake up call.

    1. Kara Loewentheil

      Save that energy for the stuff you CAN control and change!

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