It's 2012, and things are different for women in the West. Women have had the right to vote for over 90 years. Women currently outnumber men in college, and more women than men now have master's degrees. An increasing number of CEOs are women—20 of the largest companies in America are led by female CEOs. And, as demonstrated by the latest political election, more women are being elected to public office.

But this historical evolution has resulted in a strange and concerning development, one I'll call "ironic sexism."

if you're a woman like me you have probably experienced ironic sexism. You may have even done it yourself. It goes something like this: You're hanging out at your house with friends, some of whom are men. You share your latest workplace frustration, which elicits the following response from a peer: "You just need to get married and have kids. A woman's place is in the home, after all." He says with a wink.

At face value, the comment is unconscionable. The remark not only fails to offer comfort, it is so dripping with sexism as to revolt. What kind of friend would say such a thing?

One who is saying it ironically.

You see, he doesn't actually mean it. He is speaking in jest because, as everyone there knows, he isn't actually sexist. He doesn't really believe a woman's place is "in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant." And because everyone there is liberated and enlightened, such remarks are not only funny but also satirical.

The woman who feigns scriptural incompetence owing to her gender. The pastor who laughingly tells female church members they belong in the children's ministry. These comments, and those like them, are intended to mock genuine sexism.

In a recent piece for New York magazine titled "The Age of ...

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