Now, I’ve realized the sad truth that most guys (and I don’t mean all!) don’t follow feminist ideas or even know what it truly means so I wasn’t shocked to know that my boyfriend didn’t even know Women’s Studies was a minor. He believes in necessary equality for women and men, but just hasn’t had exposure to feminism. Well, he hasn’t had enjoyable exposure to feminism. He told me, like many other stereotypical instances that I’ve heard about, that feminists are loud, obnoxious, and talk way too much. He even told me, “You’re not like every other feminist I’ve met. You’re not like…loud.”
As he waited for me to attack, I knew that this was a good time to tell him that all feminists are not alike and feminists are not to be feared. I told him calmly that I knew where I stood and I would share my ideas and beliefs when it’s necessary. I don’t need to stand there and shove feminism down his throat. He expected me to flip out and start on a feminist rampage about how his and his friends’ jokes and demeanor is wrong and sexist. But I didn’t. I simply ended it with, “That’s just what I think feminism is about. Believing in changing the sexist ideals and doing something to influence change and encourage thought…not forcing people to change or think what you do”.
I told him that even though I dislike and discourage sexist jokes and actions, I’m not shocked that they act like that. Society influences and propels most of people’s actions and thoughts…following the crowd makes you less of a target but sexist, racist, and all of the above at the same time. So which one is better? I think that not following the crowd is one quality that all feminists have in common. Otherwise, we’d be too scared to even call ourselves feminists. But how do we get others to not follow society and the accepted rules of patriarchy?
It seems as if people, like the boyfriend, only see those over-bearing, in your face feminists who often leave the rest of the feminists to clean up society’s disregard towards feminism. No wonder why we struggle daily to spread the word about feminism, people have had it screamed in their faces so many times that they tune it out and become numb to it. Once they become numb, they see it as something to be brushes aside and expect others to take care of it. Think about it, it’s not just with feminism. For instance, take the Go Green campaign that has been plastered all over media, companies, people, and buildings for years. I’ve seen plenty and have heard plenty of ideas regarding new green technology, treatments, and procedures. So of course, I recycle, reduce, and reuse. But I’m not the one out there creating new products or even raising money for it. Why? I think it’s because of those messages that attack me from the minute I wake up and make me feel bad for living how I was. I do what I can but then I see those extreme environmental people doing their part and I can’t help but think that we’re pretty safe in their hands. So how can I blame other people who believe in equal rights but continue to uphold the patriarchy when I want to help the environment but still use aerosol hair spray?
I blame the messages that are being sent and created about feminism. Telling someone that they’re wrong for their beliefs is completely against mine. So I want to influence people and enlighten them about feminism. I want them to believe that they can make a change, even if it’s in a small group of their friends. And I want them to have that “a-ha!” moment instead of the “ok, fine. I’ll support feminism” moment after they’ve been broken by an opinionated feminist.
I think that there are times and places for in-your-face feminism but I also think that most of the time, feminism just needs to be talked about in a in-depth and understanding conversation. Now, I didn’t attack my boyfriend for his stereotypical view of feminists but explained to him what we really stood for: equality and for women’s voices to be heard. But of course, if he didn’t catch the gist of it the first time, I’ll be sure to get on my soap-box next time.