Unlike the “L” word, I always drop the “F” bomb too soon.
After dating someone who nearly had a grand mal seizure every time a feminist-inspired thought came out of my mouth, I made a promise that I’d never put myself (or another person) through that again. Don’t get me wrong, this person and I tried. We talked about it, shared articles and videos about it, we tried not talking about, and I even went to a counselor to seek interpersonal communication advice. Nothing worked. He saw the world in pink and blue, and I saw it in purple; neither of us were ever going to change. And what mutual misery that was. So, since, my strategy has been to bring up the F-word as fast I can. It usually goes something like this:
“Hi, my name is Jimmy…”
“Hi, Jimmy…I’M A FEMINIST, OK, AND IF THAT’S NOT SOMETHING YOU CARE ABOUT AT LEAST A LITTLE THEN WE CANNOT DO THIS. FEMINISM IS REALLY MISUNDERSTOOD; IT’S FEMINISMS NOT FEMINISM, YOU KNOW? AND MY FEMINISM ISN’T PERFECT, BUT I TRY TO BE OPEN MINDED AND HEAR OTHER PERSPECTIVES. BUT I DON’T APPRECIATE BIGOTRY AND I NEED YOU TO AT THE VERY LEAST ACKNOWLEDGE THE SIGNIFICANCE OF GENDERED LANGUAGE AND THE VAST LIMITATIONS OF PATRIARCHY IF WE ARE EVER GOING TO CONSIDER DATING OR GETTING A DOG OR STARTING A FAMILY, OK?”
And then he pulls the, “M’am, I just need to know what kind of pizza you want” since apparently he wasn’t hitting on me and my feminism is seemingly irrelevant to pizza deliverers. Thanks a lot, Jimmy.
For the better part of this year, I was struggling with the choice between my romantic relationship and feminism, because they clearly didn’t mix. Witnessing my angst, one of my mentors gave me the best piece of advice. She said, “Sparks are easy. Mutual respect, support, loving-you-exactly-as-you-are….that’s worth holding out for.” And of course she was – and is – right. As I’ve recently re-learned, being with someone who “gets it” is definitely worth holding out for.
[Am I not-so-subtly coming out to say that I’m seeing someone amazing? Noooooo. Gross. I don’t even like him that much.]
But it’s true. I write about my life and put it on the internet. I’m opinionated. I’m stubborn. I have shifting boundaries on what constitutes as humor. I write poetry. I am a romantic. I am sensitive. I make weird ass song-noises all the time THAT ARE ADORABLE. And I can be annoying as hell in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep and you can. I have endless quirks and I recognize that I’m not easy to figure out. But I’m tired of feeling insecure about these things. I want to be appreciated for every one of my flaws, every one of my qualities, and every one of my fundamental understandings about how the world operates. I want to feel nurtured to grow and be a better person, not feel like I’m an inherently bad person who needs to. And I want to make my partner feel the same way. And some couples, no matter how good they are, aren’t able to maintain that kind of mutual esteem.
SO, yeah, that’s kinda why I make sure to bring up that I’m a feminist immediately. Because for whatever reason (i.e. institutionalized misogyny) there’s something about the word (i.e. it’s not inherently male-sounding) that divides people. And just like some people can’t see it’s relevance, I can’t not see it. Even the counselor I went to when I was feeling isolated in my social circle advised me to stop using the word feminism because of how offensive it was to my boyfriend. And thankfully, in that moment, I realized, it’s not that I need to change my language or my opinions (because that’s terrible advice), it’s that I don’t have to be around people who I can’t be me around.
And after I accepted that, I was rewarded with 1) the relief from feeling like the whole world hated me, and 2) the introduction to a person who truly gets me, builds me up (buttercup darling), and encourages my idiosyncrasies. And when I say things like, “No, I don’t want cheesey bread AND pizza, that’s just a capitalistic ploy I won’t buy into,” he responds not with an eye-roll but a, “Huh, I guess that makes sense.” And then orders cheesey bread anyway because it’s delicious. And if that isn’t perfection, then I guess I need more social experiences.
I guess what I’m trying to get at is that if you’re in a situation like I was, know this: you will not have any success in changing someone’s worldview. Because worldviews are only changed internally. And, truly, none of us hold the kind of merit to go around “fixing” people as we see fit. That’s not at all fair to anyone. But you do have the power to choose to be around people who are accepting and respectful of who you are, and not around people who do the opposite (mindfully or not.)
Because, I don’t know about you, but I know who I am and I’m pretty stoked about being me. I’m awesome. So, as I’ve said before, if you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my feminism. But definitely not with my friends. Please do not get with my friends.