Column

‘Am I the Asshole?’ Reveals America’s Sexist Underbelly

One of the most thorough looks at gender inequality can be found on a Reddit forum

Jessica Valenti
GEN
Published in
4 min readOct 1, 2020

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Photo: Francesco Carta/fotografo

If you want to know about the gendered domestic divide in American households, there are plenty of books to read, studies to peruse, and women’s stories — exponentially more of them since the pandemic started — to hear out. But the most fascinating look at inequality at home, and within heterosexual relationships more broadly, doesn’t come from traditional sources; it’s hiding in plain sight, on a Reddit forum called “Am I The Asshole.”

AITA, as it’s also known, is a place where people post about a particular conflict and ask readers for an objective opinion on whether or not they’re, well, an asshole. The situations are usually benign: someone wanting reassurance that they’re not wrong to cut off a toxic relative, or seeking validation after taking a mistreated animal away from a friend.

When it comes to relationships, however, and the way that men treat the women in their lives, things get pretty toxic. It’s a microcosm of gendered entitlement — the story of American sexism, told post by post. There’s the guy furious with his girlfriend for dressing up for a work Zoom (because how dare she look nice for anyone but him); the husband who wants to forbid his wife from breastfeeding in public; the man who is mad that his wife who has just given birth doesn’t “dress sexy” anymore; and of course the one who feels betrayed that his wife keeps her own savings account.

Sexism has fully lulled them into a sense of moral superiority.

The list goes on: There’s the man who needs “complete silence” from his stay-at-home wife and two toddlers while he works from home, because “it’s her job to be silent and shut the kids up”; the husband who refuses to do any domestic work at all because his wife isn’t asking nicely enough (he also seems to think his wife has a natural predilection for thankless activity: “She doesn’t really rest,” he wrote, “that’s not her thing”); the guy who wants his girlfriend to sell her house because she bought it with money she earned while stripping; and the man who walked out (literally) on his wife when…

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Jessica Valenti
GEN
Writer for

Feminist author & columnist. Native NYer, pasta enthusiast.