Why I'm asking: I recently wrote a blog post in which I used an example that might be (and, it turns out, is) considered sexist. I'm not sexist whatsoever though, and used this example merely because it's a cliché theme everybody is familiar with which served the purpose of the blog post well. I then kept returning to this theme throughout the post as a running joke.

My Question: Is there a word for the approach I chose in my post of writing from a perspective where one seems to subscribe to certain principles or ideas while the author's mentality in the matter is in fact the opposite of what he expresses in writing?

The word 'Irony' does not quite seem to fit the bill in this case, I believe?

(I hope my question is clear, kind of hard to explain the concept.)

  • 2
    Without a disclaimer, 'folly'. May 5, 2017 at 12:37
  • 5
    'Devil's advocate' if intentional
    – Mitch
    May 5, 2017 at 12:38
  • @EdwinAshworth so it would seem :-)
    – Asciiom
    May 5, 2017 at 13:06
  • 1
    So, you want to have your cake and eat it too. You like the cliché but aren't so un-sexist that it overcomes your desire to avoid the sexism implicit in the example. Does that make you a hypocrite? I am not sure.
    – thomj1332
    May 5, 2017 at 14:36
  • Had you taken the stereotype to a greater extreme of silliness or absurdity, you might call it farcical . So much satire calls out the idiosyncrasies of groups of people that I'm afraid much satire will be off limits because it "reinforces stereotypes". That being said, as you were trying to write a technical tutorial for a wide audience, not playing a stand-up comic, the 'satirical use of a cliche trope' really wasn't called for.
    – Tom22
    May 5, 2017 at 23:59

3 Answers 3


I would suggst that you may be:

Playing the Devil’s Advocate

See the following definition and example from the online Oxford English Dictionary:

devil's advocate

A person who expresses a contentious opinion in order to provoke debate or test the strength of the opposing arguments.

‘the interviewer will need to play devil's advocate, to put the other side's case forward’


A hypocrite according to Merriam-Webster's 2nd definition is: a person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings. So, are you engaging in hypocrisy?

Since you are purposely acting this way does this absolve you of moral accountability? Perhaps. You say you are not sexist but it seems you aren't so un-sexist as to avoid promoting sexism, albeit in an indirect way. It's like you want to have your cake but eat it too.

All that being said, why is it sexist for a man to talk about a woman offering to do the dishes?

  • You have a point. I guess I don't find it to be sexist in the first place, which is why I didn't have any qualms in using it as an example and joking about the whole thing. In this light my original question is rather moot.
    – Asciiom
    May 5, 2017 at 15:13
  • This fits the question in the title (so it's dead on right in that sense) but it doesn't describe the use of a offensive device as a tool of expression really. If the OP wants something other than this good answer for the title the title the body of the question should emphasize that.
    – Tom22
    May 5, 2017 at 22:04

Jonathan Swift’s Modest Proposal is a famous example of an essay written from a perspective that is not the author’s own.

Spark calls the Modest Proposal “ironically conceived,” where irony might refer to

  • the use of words to express something other than and especially the opposite of the literal meaning
  • a usually humorous or sardonic literary style or form characterized by irony

Wikipedia calls the Modest Proposal “a Juvenalian satirical essay,” which appears to refer to “any bitter and ironic criticism of contemporary persons and institutions that is filled with personal invective, angry moral indignation, and pessimism.”

While not quite hitting the nail on the head, that may be close to what you asked.

  • I'm confused how that happened. I pasted the definition from the linked page, but somehow it restated the paste a few times. I thought the original post (The word 'Irony' does not quite seem to fit the bill in this case, I believe?) allowed re-consideration of the word "irony," which seems to have a popular sense and a more technical sense; maybe that's why MW defines the word "irony" [in a strict sense] as a literary style characterized by irony [in a loose sense].
    – Chaim
    May 5, 2017 at 19:31

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