Think globally, act locally
I think that this discussion about the new Equal Writes celebrities "Guy 1" and "Guy 2" is emblematic of a lot of feminist dialogue. Guy 1 and Guy 2 had an encounter at the gym during which Guy 2 is reported to have said, in reference to some sort of stretching machine, "That is not a man's machine right there. Not a man's machine." In her post "An interview with the infamous 'Guy 1'," Kelly Roache wonders about the significance of that kind of statement. Kelly notes that the mildly offensive nature of this comment--a joke that seems to have hurt nobody--stands in contrast with the horrors of true gender violence. Kelly reminds us that "priorities are a central tool" in terms of the feminist program, and that it is necessary for us to "pick our battles".
First of all, I don't think that there is a question as to whether this is a sexist comment. I also don't think that Guy 2 is a horrible person, and I'm pretty sure he didn't mean any harm by what he said. The truth is, Guy 2 probably didn't feel like he was making a sexist remark. Saying that something is a man's machine to mean that it's a good machine is just the way people speak.
It's certainly tempting to ignore or discount this kind of culturally pervasive sexism in comparison with horrific institutions such as human trafficking. But I think that the horrors of gender violence are precisely the reason that a comment like that is worth concern at all. What does it mean to say that we're picking a tremendous issue such as child prostitution as our battle as feminists? What can we do here and now? I think the answer is that we have to recognize that our culture is constantly sexist in ways that are hidden from us. I think that in many ways, focusing on horrific acts in far away places discourages us from strategies and discussions that lead to real change. On the other hand, it would be a mistake to feel that we cannot make a real impact in terms of the great injustices done to women.
The answer is that we ought to speak out against all gender violence and sexism. I see no reason to trivialize great suffering or to ignore the real effects of a culture that consistently disrespects women. Guy 2 is not a criminal or a bad person, and he did nothing wrong. But there's no reason not to let him know (or let those around us know in general) that he's contributing to a culture of disrespect for women.