Reading Juliette Cule’s article on the difficulties of expressing your feminism with strangers made me think about how these interactions affect me. Honestly, I find that I am more likely to find it hard to express a strong viewpoint with the people closest to me; it is so easy to go on and on about how women are treated in society, in politics, etc, when you are with like-minded friends, but it’s something I try to avoid with the friends I know don’t consider feminism a cause worth caring about. I’d hate to be the person who inspires moans from her friends every time I open my mouth. I mean, I love them, but I don’t feel like I can bitch at them if they make a comment like ‘that’s so gay’, or ‘look what she’s wearing! She’s such a slut!’, as much as I might object to them.
I find it hard to share my values in conversation with these people; they just don’t really care and will say I’m ‘overreacting.’ I feel like I’d be pushing my views down their throats, and end up turning them further away from them as they become sick of hearing about them – rather than hoping they see their words have offensive connotations to groups who are already unfairly treated.
I went on the London SlutWalk in September, and many people asked me ‘why would they call it that?’ or ‘what does that achieve?’. I even had comments from my facebook friends defending their right to use the clearly derogatory term ‘slut’ – all of whom were swiftly deleted.
I find one of the biggest issues is with people we find attractive. On my university course, there’s only two guys and forty girls, and I mentioned this to a guy I had a crush on. His reaction was something along the lines of ‘I bet the guys love that, with loads of girls to choose from.’ I explained that none of the girls fancy them and indeed that many of the girls had boyfriends. His response to this was horrendous – ‘but all uni girls are up for it.’ And this is someone I actually have a thing for! It pains me so much that he says things like this. I know he’s not deliberately being rude towards women, that he probably doesn’t think it’s a sexist remark, and if you asked him, I’m sure he would say that he is in favour of women’s rights. But is that reason enough to cast my feelings aside? Should I feel guilty for liking this guy despite him saying something I find so offensive? Trying to find a truly feminist guy is difficult, and it seems finding truly feminist friends are hard to come by too.
Unfortunately for now, I will have to swallow my thoughts and feelings, find more subtle ways to push the concept of social equality forward, and try not to resent anyone close to me too much.