Ask Aunt Battleaxe | Some of my best friends are men

Every Monday, Aunt Battleaxe will be here to cast a strident eye over your feminist woes.

Dear Battleaxe,

Some of my dearest pals are men and, while I’m fairly certain I have only chosen to surround myself with the Good Ones, they still sometimes dip into casual sexism then sigh, roll their eyes and get exasperated when I call them on it.

They are all excellent human beings and I don’t want to stop being their friend. How do I set them straight without coming off as a feminist bore?

I Recently Pitched This As A Feature Idea In An Unsuccessful Job Application Goddammit

Dear IRP,

I’m sitting in my garden, drinking tea and feeling… how can I put this? Not exactly inspired by this question. Yes, I could give you a debrief on the appropriate etiquette for dealing with the sexism of men you want to believe are not actually sexist – but they are sexist, because they’re saying sexist things and then (this is the clinching bit of evidence against them) they’re doing their damnedest to shut you down when you point out that they’re being sexist. Here’s how you can tell when a man is not a sexist: he treats women as people worth listening to even when they disagree with him – actually, he just treats women as people.

So maybe your guys are the good guys in many respects, but it also sounds like they are being dicks, and as a battleaxe I cannot recommend that you spend any more of your life than is strictly necessary hanging around with dicks. I don’t want you to be polite to them. It’s not your job to fix them. It is definitely not your job to be sparkling and charming while you set them straight. Worry less about coming off as a feminist bore, and more about why these dudes are not worried about coming off as chauvinistic jackasses.

How about spending some time hanging out with people who don’t sigh and roll their eyes at you? Can I suggest: SOME FEMINISTS, or at any rate, some female-only time. No, the company of feminists is not an inevitable place of harmony and rainbows, but on the other hand, they’re much less likely to wear you down with offhand sexism, and much more likely to help you realise that, actually, whatever you have to say is worth listening to. If the good guys are so good, they’ll still be around when you feel like seeing them again; and if they drop off the face of the earth because you cancel a few trips to the pub and insist on being treated like a human being, well, screw ’em. Team Girl is where it’s at anyway.

If you have something to ask Aunt Battleaxe, email

Photo by Dave King via Flickr, used under CC