Men are encouraged at every turn to not be interested in women’s experiences.
The best example of this is ‘chick flicks’. When a film features men and male protagonists it is just a film, and it’s genre is decided by its content. But if a film focuses on women, in a way that is not geared towards the male gaze (which is to say it features women as people and not objects), it’s a chick flick. For women, by women, about women, it is of no concern to us.
"Hey bro come over to my place, we’ll crack open a few brewskis and watch Thelma and Louise". - Why does that sentence read like a joke?
Because the performance of masculinity requires constant distancing from anything feminine. While the obvious effects of this distancing are discussed often (don’t be a girl, don’t be girly), the truly insidious effect that is less often discussed is again; don’t be interested in things that interest, feature or focus on women. I argue that this is possibly the most important facet of masculinity to consider when judging a man’s character, as it will undoubtably speak to the way in which he considers, or does not consider women.
The question becomes: Does he give a fuck about women outside of fucking them.
This question will reveal more about a man’s views on women than his behaviour, as one can control one’s behaviour in order to present a more agreeable version of themselves, which is to say a guy on a date that doesn’t act overtly sexist doesn’t necessarily respect women. So instead of waiting for proof of the negative, seek proof of the affirmative.
If he says he loves books, ask him who his favourite female authors are. If movies, ask favourite female actors, directors. If music, ask favourite female artists, bands. If comedy, ask favourite female comedians. Same goes for science, architecture, hotdog eating contests and deep sea diving. Make searching for women a knee-jerk reaction to any expression of interest, and always follow it up with a why.
And the single best and most illuminating question? Favourite female characters in fiction. We can discuss fiction for hours, and yet this simple question can completely stump men, unless of course a sexy action heroine comes to mind quickly.
And let it also be said that despite the fact that men can fail this, it should not be considered a test. Talking about women shouldn’t be a challenge, and if you’re a woman you shouldn’t feel like you’re directing the conversation in an unfair direction simply by entering your gender into it.
Take what a man loves, and see if he respects women enough to love, appreciate, or even just consider the part that they play in it. This is a surer way to gauge a man’s sexism than to wait for him to act on or speak to it, especially in a setting in which he is trying to impress you.
Because if you can discover quickly whether or not a man appreciates women in his day to day life then you can discover quickly whether or not he is capable of appreciating you, and that is the goal to which we should all strive in all friendships and relationships, as opposed to merely finding someone that can maintain a visage that seems inoffensive.