I used to call myself a reluctant feminist. But I kept having those conversations. The ones where I'm torn between smacking my head on the table in front of me and shrugging dejectedly. And then I lunge for the third option: Trying to explain. Which feels oh so futile most of the time because how on earth are you going to explain to someone a concept that is utterly foreign to them? How am I going to explain to my male, white, heterosexual friend who earns good money as a soon-to-be-lawyer what it feels like that I can't quite marry my wife,
that we can't adopt children together,
not even each other's children were we to have any,
how frustrating it is to have to prove yourself over and over and over again, harder than your male colleague who has all the same qualifications
but earns more money than you?
My friend deadra had a great example when I told her about my lack of explanatory words. She told me what she uses in such situations. It goes something like this (I'm ad-libbing): "So you and this other person are running a marathon and you're running on asphalt on even ground while they're running on hot sand, meandering, uphill". This is a very good explanation I think.
Unfortunately it only works if people simply don't get it because they've never been confronted with it. If they're open-minded, basically intelligent people they'll go "Aaaah! That's what you mean!" And BAM! We have enlightenment. They knew there was a problem before. But now they understand what it feels like.
This reasoning, however, doesn't work on people who just go around bashing feminism because they're completely ignorant (another, less mentally priviledged friend of mine). How do you reason with people that react to feminism with aggression? I used to shut up in those situations, shying away from the confrontation, especially if the stupidity came from a friend. But I don't any more. Really, how important are my intolerant, unenlightened friends going to be to me in the long run? Exactly.
So yes, bait me with your facebook comment or your throw-away remark about how feminists are all man-hating bitches. Do it. I promise I'll bite. And I will do my best to explain to you again and again, because I still have some faith in your intelligence. I will try to explain that contrary to your belief we are not asking for anything more but rather for the same that you already get. To deviate from Ani DiFranco*: Equality is just about reprieve. I mean, I get that you're scared. Maybe Socrates scared you: “Woman once made equal to man becomes his superior”. Maybe you feel not up to par, are insecure about yourself. But really, that doesn't give you the right to brainless remarks that you've picked up from other uneducated people. But after all I do have to thank you for something. Because I too used to think that feminism was an overhauled concept that just wasn't necessary anymore. After all, I was equal. I really believed that. Until I learned otherwise; The hard way.
I realise that you, as a man, will not learn it the hard way like I did, because you will just not be confronted with it. You are not discriminated against. But you and other men like you have made me into who I am today. I used to be a reluctant feminist. Today I'm just a feminist (who will call you out on your crap).
* The last line of Ani's song Reprieve is "Feminism ain't about equality, it's about reprieve"