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Behold a common argument deployed by modern sexists:

1. Establish your concern for the women’s movement by admitting that things used to be pretty bad for chicks, back in the olden days when institutionalized sexism dictated that women couldn’t vote or hold jobs out of the home.

2. Your feminist prowress now established, assert that since women are now legally freed to pursue activities beyond babymakin’, all sexism has miraculously disappeared in the workplace, in inter-personal relationships, and in entertainment.

3. Declare anyone who says otherwise a sexist.

This sexist argument—-that sexism used to exist, but no more—-tends to collapse whenever vintage sexism rears its ugly head. Modern sexists, like moths drawn dangerously close to the flame, can’t help but defend the olde-tyme sexism. You know, the kind that was par for the course back when women couldn’t vote or work or take birth control or avoid being legally raped by their husbands.

I learned this lesson personally when I began posting the “Sexist History” feature, which mines the New York Times archives for the hilariously overt degradation of women in vintage journalism. Whether the vintage sexism is objectifying hordes of women, asserting that female ignorance is cute, or blatantly rejecting the idea of women’s suffrage, there is, without fail, at least one modern defender of the sexist NYT reporter, may he rest in peace.

Take this commenter’s response to a 1909 sports reporter’s rhapsodic, objectifying, and paragraphs-long detailing of all girls in the audience. It’s an account which has apparently aged well over the past 100 years:

How on earth is that sexist? I don’t see one comment that is disparaging of women. He’s simply admiring the abundance of women at the event, and his writing is actually fantastic, much better than most of the BS that’s out there today.

Or another commenter’s response to a 1900 New York Times piece which admonished female Cuban exchange students for taking too many sexual liberties in America, posted on IvyGate‘s coverage of the story:

Heh. So now it’s sexist to notice pretty girls?

More vitriollic defenses of olde-tyme sexism can be found everywhere vintage sexism is on display. YouTube, of course, is an infamous repository of bigotry. Check out the commonts on this YouTube clip from the 1963 movie, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, which posed the question about the following dialogue: “The Most Sexist Line in Movie History?”


“The man who will love me on equal terms. That old saying, ‘behind every man is a woman’—-that’s not for me. I want to stand right alongside. Is that asking too much?”

“Well, now I think you’re going to have to be satisfied with the vote right now,” TK responds. “I don’t think that will ever become a national movement.”

The modern sexism was swift and barely intelligible:

From MysteryManoLove:

You are DUMB, feminism has it’s good points as Nazi Germany did too, thonly parallel is that feminists are taking the rights away from every one. They arn’t making more “rights” anymore, it’s all privilige, affirmative action, Title ix education amendment, ect.

From LovelyYTRocks:

Women? Equal to man? Lololol. I remember in P.E., not so long ago: A 15-year-old girl needs to cover 3 kilometres in 16 minutes to receive 10/10. A 15-year-old boy needs to cover 3 kilometres in 12 minutes to receive 10/10. 0 girls has completed this task so far, and nearly all boys has completed this challenge (except the really fat ones).

From Nickyrinkydinky:

To Lowfuellevel and the rest of the whining sexist bitches.

1. My father is a HOUSE-HUSBAND and looks after my sisters and brothers WHILST going to work during the day time. On top of that MANY men i know DO have 2 jobs in order to support their families.

2. There is literally little/no sexism today. You complain just for the sake of it. Ive been brought up well by my mother and i respect women. Yet all i see is sexist comments from “feminists” nowdays.

Yahoo! Answers—-and its fellow community-based advice sites—-may be the most frustrating forum for even the most innocuous feminist sentiments. After user Lindseylillian asked other Yahoo! users for examples of sexism in film, the resounding response was: No films are sexist. Lindseylillian is the only one who is sexist:

Oh great another feminist taking pure entertainment and making it into something so complicated and offensive. You know what YOUR sexist, because nobody even thought of that before you, people all saw people, you saw woman being held back….you sexist.

I used to enjoy a good laugh at vintage sexism, partly because it demonstrated how far we’ve come. Now I know that while the films and newspapers may have aged, there’s nothing “vintage” about the sexist sentiment behind them.

Photo bylate night movie