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John Key sexist? He thinks Liz Hurley is "hot". Jessica Alba is apparently hot, too. And - what an original choice - Angelina Jolie.

After Sue Kedgley criticised him for making the comments, British tabloid paper the Daily Mail ramped the story up into a "sexist row". It's not like Key gave Hillary Clinton the once-over in the midst of an economic reform discussion.

And since when is it considered sexist to call a woman hot, especially one who uses her sexuality to advance her career? Who doesn't think Jolie is hot?

It may not be particularly dignified of the man who's in charge of the country, but it's hardly cause to throw the "s" word about. Unless you factor in that he made the comment to Tony Veitch, who hasn't the best track record when it comes to respecting women.

Key chatted about his celebrity crushes in a casual, blokesy setting but it just goes to show the unforgiving nature of fast-travelling news, where a passing comment can be broadcast globally and dissected in a buttoned-up culture that would thrill in castigating its politicians should they refer to celebrities as hot. That alone should be reason enough not to go there.

"Inappropriate" might have been more appropriate than the word "sexist". Or "human". You only need eyes to agree with him, even if it is a bit cringey.

Anyway, we also know the Prime Minister has had a vasectomy, so there's zero chance the power band he's been wearing is intended to help produce a Hollywood baby.

Meanwhile, actual sexism is apparently still rife in these post-feminist times, perpetuated by Air New Zealand's embarrassing furry mascot Rico, who loves the New Zealand "bush", spent his time in our fair country "beating off the track" and reckons he needs a "nice Kiwi bitch", all of which suggests we're meant to have relaxed our views as to what constitutes sexism.

Then there was the case of actress Anna Faris, who told a US chat show host that two separate carloads of Kiwi men yelled sexual obscenities at her while she was in New Zealand.

Most Kiwis are polite but it didn't surprise me that a pretty blonde, walking alone along the street, experienced such charming hospitality.

This is very similar to what happened to a friend of mine at a cricket match at Eden Park recently, a guy friend, by the way, accosted by a group of intoxicated women, who yelled something unprintable as he left the ground. In the bad old days in the terraces, a female had only to stand up to attract all kinds of revolting sexual comments.

And while it's not as bad now, it appears this open lack of respect for the opposite sex - a beacon of sexual incompetence, I've always thought - still occurs, and not just towards women.

The word "sexism" also cropped up in Sweden after an advertising campaign for men's boxers, featuring an animated image of a well-endowed man lying in his boxers. It was deemed to be too revealing of a certain body part, and Sweden's advertising ombudsmen called it "offensive to men", but this just seems prudish, if you ask me. Aren't Swedes fans of getting in the buff? If it was a woman selling underwear with an ample cleavage and a seductive look in her eye, (half the world's underwear ads) then what's the difference? Would that have been deemed sexist?

It's easier to grasp when it's the old-fashioned explicit sexism that costs people their jobs.

Long-standing British sportscasters Andy Gray and Richard Keys showed their true colours when they mouthed off about female linesman (woman) Sian Massey not knowing the offside rule, which was complete rubbish. They also made derogatory remarks about former female referee's assistant Wendy Toms, calling her "[expletive] hopeless" and West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady, (or as Keys referred to her, "love") who'd written an article about sexism in football. Video footage emerged soon after showing Gray asking a female sports presenter to tuck a microphone down his trousers.

But the lines are too often blurred between having a laugh at stereotypes, appreciating the attractiveness of the opposite sex and real, damaging attitudes.

It would be easy to dismiss Faris' experience as a brush with a bunch of idiots, but unfortunately she's at the centre of a "sexism" controversy herself.

In her latest film, Observe and Report with Seth Rogen, she is filmed passed out on the bed while Rogen's character has sex with her.

She then wakes on a vomit-stained pillow and eggs him on. The scene has caused outrage, with calls to boycott the "comedy" for trivialising date rape.

In publicity interviews, Faris has expressed her surprise at the scene being included in the film, due for mainstream release. Pity she didn't speak up earlier.

That sounds a whole lot more sexist than calling an actress hot.