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    Peter Uetz said:

    Does anybody know about studies that investigate who, where, or how many people consider comments as sexist? What kind of comments? There is clearly a cultural component, certainly a lot of psychology, and few objective criteria. Yeah, women have called me “sexy” but no, I don’t consider that as sexist (I was flattered ;-). But I am a man, after all…

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      Virginia Schutte said:

      Peter: I think there are 2 issues you’re getting at here so I’ll respond to each separately.

      Cultural differences: yes, they definitely exist. Machismo culture in Latin America is a good example. I’ve known people who grew up there who were not bothered by the same street comments that I was (I grew up in the U.S.). The Wikipedia article about “benevolent sexism” as opposed to “hostile sexism” ( is a very informative read with a fair number of sources cited. This Forbes article ( doesn’t cite sources but has some great examples of benevolent sexism.

      Flattering v. sexism: even comments meant to be flattering can still be sexist if they give one gender more power or a higher status than another. The first comment that I received on my website was technically appreciative of me. But instead of telling me in private, that person gave himself the authority to discuss my body as an object in a public space, ignoring my passions and the website’s purpose and reducing me to nothing but my gender. Wikipedia’s entry on gender and compliments ( is another good read with sources. I think you’d also be interested in this Huffington Post piece ( on the negativity one woman received after simply accepting compliments online.