The 7 Best Comebacks to Sexist Comments

This morning I was scrolling through my Instagram feed and I came across a picture where a man asked a woman what her favourite position was. She told him, “CEO.” It gave me a good laugh, but it also hit me right where all the other sexist things hit me: right in the gut.

Women are so routinely publicly (and privately) asked and expected to answer some pretty obscene questions which our male counterparts are not. It’s not done for fun; it’s done to shame women. To poke fun at us. To objectify us.

But I’ll be damned if I stumble through one of those awkward and inappropriate moments again with a laugh and a “What?” I’ll be damned if I actually answer a private question I don’t want to again because I feel the pressure of so many eyes on me. I’ll be damned if other women have to deal with this again and still don’t know what to say to inappropriate questions or statements because who has the time to figure out what to say when someone catches you off guard with sexist speech?

That’s why I made a list of the best comebacks to sexist remarks which you can use any time some asshole makes you uncomfortable with their inappropriate behaviour, because my god do we need it.

1. “Send Nudes.”

We all know this isn’t really a request, whether you’re getting it from a random person on Tinder, someone you thought was a close friend, your boss, or potentially your S.O. I can’t stress this enough, especially to younger women who are starting to deal with this behaviour for the first time: you do not have to send nudes to anyone you don’t want to send nudes to. And if you’re not comfortable with sending nudes at all (trust me, you’re not alone!), don’t send them.

I know how powerless and objectified this situation can make you feel, but there are ways to own the power which you do have. Even if you don’t feel comfortable telling them off, you can still inadvertently tell the person to go fuck themselves.

  1. “No.”

  2. “Just hang on a second, I’ll go ask my mom if it’s okay…”

  3. “I mean I don’t want to send them to you, but I wouldn’t be opposed to sending them to someone I want to send them to.”

2. “Why Don’t You Give Us A Smile?”

First of all, fuck you. Second of all, fuck you. Am I prettier when I smile? I genuinely don’t care. I didn’t ask for your opinion, sir. The fact we’re still talking about this warrants obscene amounts of swearing. That’s definitely one way you could handle this situation, but I get that you can’t exactly swear at the police or your teachers.

Don’t get why this is so annoying to women? This statement implies that women should stick to the gender role of the perpetually happy and unaffected girl who does whatever is necessary to make men happy and that, regardless of how a woman is feeling, she should smile to make everyone more comfortable. Maybe my frown or resting bitch face isn’t the most approachable thing in the world, but the expression is meant to scream “don’t talk to me” for a reason.

Not sure how to handle this yet? Used to death glaring at the person or uncomfortably smiling even though you don’t want to? I’ve got you, bae.

  1. “Because I don’t want to.”

  2. “Because you’re being an asshole and that’s nothing to smile about.”

  3. Just use your middle fingers to push up the corners of your mouth while glaring at them.

  4. Bonus: “Uh, have you heard the news lately?”

3. “I’m not trying to be rude, but…”

I had someone come up to me while I was waiting for someone at Richmond and Dundas and say, “I’m not trying to be rude, but now that’s a good look.” It took me a second to understand he was trying to compliment my outfit (or hair or, to be totally honest, I’m not positive) because I didn’t feel complimented but objectified. Why? For one, I was standing at the intersection of Richmond and Dundas. For two, he started by yelling this at me from a distance so it was closer to heckling than a, “hey, I like your outfit.” I stared at him seethingly for a moment before dropping my gaze, and felt so ashamed by the situation that I didn’t say anything. So he walked closer and closer to me while continuing to speak.

The main thing that bothered me about this interaction was that this man knew his comments could and would be perceived as rude, yet he said them anyway. It’s sort of like saying “no offense” right before you say something offensive. Furthermore, he kept saying “I’m not being rude” instead of letting me determine that—when he’s the one making unwanted comments about my appearance. I’ve steamed about this situation and, for your benefit, worked out what I will say to some asshole next time this happens.

  1. “If you need a disclaimer, you’re being rude. Walk away.”

  2. “I’m not trying to be rude, but I don’t care about your opinion.”

  3. “I’m not trying to be rude, but I’d rather blow an air horn directly into my ear than listen to you finish this sentence.”

4. “You’re not like other girls”    

I would hope I’m not like a 0-12 year old female because, well, I’m 21. Other women, on the other hand, are majestic and wonderful and smart and talented so I don’t see how this is meant to be a compliment in the first place. It’s just plain sexist to me; it implies other women aren’t inspirational and that there is something wrong with being like a woman. What gets me is that this phrase is meant to make women feel unique.

When we buy into this “compliment,” our sisterhood is fractured. We don’t stand tall together because we’re too busy putting others down and trying to be better than the rest of our gender. That’s not cool.

Luckily you won’t be stuck awkwardly thanking the person anymore and can flip it around on them. Yeah, that’s right. Call out that sexism.

  1. “What’s wrong with other women? Explain this, please.”

  2. “I’d rather spend my time with women than your sorry ass.”

  3. “First of all, I’m much worse.”

5. “Well someone’s on their period”

This one really just blows me away. Not only has it been made clear by, like, pretty much every woman, TV show, movie, etc. out there that this phrase is a dumbass idea, but dudes have monthly “periods,” too.

Before anyone’s fragile masculinity is damaged, not every guy has it that bad (just like not all women have horrible periods) and no, I’m not trying to say blood comes out of anybody’s penis once a month or that it’s this entire painful, physical process. We’re just talking about some basic science here. Like women, guys have certain hormones—especially testosterone, epinephrine, leptin or thyroxine—that fluctuate and become unbalanced throughout the month so men can “briefly experience the same emotional symptoms that women exhibit during their monthly menstruation.” See? Nothing earth shattering. But that’s actually enough information to damage the hell out of most guys’ egos and senses of self: talk about another reason we need feminism!

If you don’t want to school some guy with an unexpectedly calm, rational and level headed lesson about Irritable Male Syndrome (IMS), you still have other options which will work just as well and score you some extra sass points.

  1. “Well someone uses archaic and backwards put-downs to try and feel secure in their masculinity.”

  2. “My what? A period? I don’t know what that is… could you *pause for dramatic effect* explain it to me?”

  3. “Actually, I’m late. I’m pregnant with your child. What am I going to tell my wife?!”

6. “Nice dress/shirt/jeans/hair/eyes/boobs/ass/lipstick/etc.”

We’ve got a long way to go before this one gets through people’s heads, so let’s just emphasize how important it is to understand this simple idea: no one asked you. Frankly, no one cares. Shut your mouth and. Go. Home.

Okay, okay. But what if you’re genuinely trying to compliment someone? What if they really do have a nice dress? Luckily, it’s fairly straightforward. Making demeaning or objectifying comments is not a compliment. Still confused? Maybe stay quiet for now until you have time to read up on it further.

Now that that’s out of the way, there are ways to respond to this other than saying “thank you” when you want to say “fuck you” or saying nothing and staring at the ground uncomfortably.

  1. “I don’t care.”

  2. “I know.”

  3. “Thanks! I don’t think this [clothing/makeup item] will fit/suit you though, Dollface.”

7. “Can’t you take a joke?”

Alas, the phrase used to shut down people who call out bad behaviour. You’ll inevitably hear it when you use some of the comebacks above. It’s used to exclude the person who didn’t laugh or wouldn’t stand down when sexist/racist/homophobic/etc. “jokes” are made. Because, apparently, bigotry is humour.

Now I’m not saying that comedy shouldn’t tackle taboo topics: it should. That’s the great thing about it. But I’m not talking about stand-up comedians. I’m talking about the douchey guy at the pre who lifts, the people who sit two rows behind you in class, your close friends. I’m talking about people who don’t see their behaviour as sexist/racist/homophobic/etc. because they don’t understand the full extent of what they are saying.

So when this line comes your way, I have more comebacks for you. Yes, I even went so far as to think of comebacks to the comebacks from your comeback (now say that five times fast).

  1. “Yes, but that wasn’t funny. That was sexist/misogynistic.”

  2. “Oh! Is that what you were trying to do there?”

  3. “Of course I can. I personally find your backwards views hilarious. Seriously. They crack me up!”

Another response to any of the comments above is to not say anything and just break something. Throw it at the wall, drop the glass you’re holding, smash that beer bottle on the bar counter (don’t do that last one, though it would be effective).

Before unleashing a full out verbal army on someone who said something sexist though, take a second to consider where they’re coming from. If the person is saying something out of ignorance and you feel capable in the moment, try to take a second to educate them a little bit because they may have genuinely been trying to compliment you or don’t see the error in their ways. So show them. Or does the person know it’s shitty to say what they’ve said? Is it a #3 sort of situation?

If so, unleash your verbal hell and then some.

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