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Drive like a girl and don't sweat the small stuff

How we respond to casual sexism is an important aspect of the fight against it. Often enough, sexist statements are deliberate and carefully crafted. These may come out like Larry Summers outrageously unfounded suggestions on women's aptitude in the higher echelons of science early in 2005. Despite his backpedaling after the fact, it was clear that Summers knew he was opening a can of worms with his comments. Innumerable individuals and organizations critiqued Summers on his comment and the lack of scientific backing, and rightly so.

It is more common, however, to run across sidelong comments that reflect attitudes that people don't think about much. In these cases, it may seem unreasonable to launch a full offensive strike against the speaker. But no one wants to sit back and ignore those comment, either.

Well, Danica Patrick has just the thing. As recently reported in Sports Illustrated, in a recent interview on WGFX-FM in Nashville, Ed Carpenter, one of Patrick's (trailing) competitors commented that "especially if you catch her at the right time of the month," she's an aggressive driver.

Since Carpenter trails Patrick in the competition, one can't help but wonder what's happening the rest of the time, but Patrick isn't letting Carpenter's comments bother her: "That sounds like a good joke to me," she said, brushing off his remarks. "I'm glad he's showing some personality."

Rather than make him a martyr for the cause of thoughtless comments, Patrick takes the pass and lets Carpenter's words go. And why should she sweat it, after all? As the article points out, she leads him by four slots and is exploring her options as her contract ends this season. Carpenter, on the other hand, drives for a team owned by his mother and her husband, Tony George. If anyone's sweating here, it's obviously Carpenter, and Patrick is smart to let him dig his own hole.