Rhiannon Edwards

Friends, Crushes and the awkward issue of Feminism

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.

-Rhiannon Edwards

4 thoughts on “Friends, Crushes and the awkward issue of Feminism

  1. I don’t think it’s at all possible to like anyone with values opposite to your own. I can confess to having physical feelings for someone whose misogynist values disgusted me, and I stopped talking to them indefinitely.

    Physical attractiveness is quite a myth and is almost completely meaningless in terms of human relationships; only one’s intellect and one’s values will truly be carried forth into the relationship. After all, our physical health and appearance change constantly in the natural process of aging. No physical state means anything important other than perhaps a reflection of their self-esteem and the value they place on appearances.

    Long story short, one can only truly be attracted to people who have essentially the same values (not necessarily interests or hobbies, but values). It is on these common values that true relationships are built. I speak from learning and from personal experience.

  2. well i don’t mean to be rude, but also speaking from personal experiences, the two guys i have been in long term relationships and loved, did not agree with every single value that i believed in. in fact, some of them had very opposing views,so while you claim it is impossible to actually be attracted to them, id have to disagree entirely.
    i really don’t think you should assume.

  3. Unfortunately, I feel as though my point was completely missed. In fact, my reading of your response reinforces exactly what I had hoped to express the first time.

    I’m not sure I understand what attraction, let alone love, you could have felt for someone who is – as you described – so intellectually and morally at odds with you. An occasional differing opinion is very healthy and normal in a relationship, but for a healthy woman – a self-proclaimed feminist at that – to express love for someone who says something like “‘but all uni girls are up for it.” makes absolutely no sense to me. Your post seemed to confess disgust at this sort of worldview and despair at being unable to find men who shared your feminist values, yet I feel you attacked me when I’m very much on your side in saying that I don’t see how that type of individual could have a relationship with you.

    Also, please let me clarify that I said and I meant “essentially the same values”. There is a huge difference between essentially sharing the same moral compass and sharing every single value that you hold, as you seemed to suggest in your response.

    Even my partner and I do not share precisely the same values; however our basic moral beliefs and convictions are very much compatible, and we hold most of the same key concepts to be important in our lives. For example, we both value independent thinking; we both consider artistic expression and appreciation to be vital to a healthy life; we both detest organized violence; we both disapprove of irresponsible parenting.

    My partner and I also both admire each others’ values, even the ones we don’t particularly cling to. For example, I’m not a passionate animal rights activist, but my partner considers animal welfare to be a critical concern in life, and I am moved by such compassion and empathy for other living creatures.

    In closing, please let me share part of a wonderful exercise a very intelligent woman once shared with me:

    Stop and think about all the basic values, the basic concepts, that you hold the most dear. What matters most to you? Write those ideas down. They might include: honesty, tolerance, courage, prudence, and other so-called virtues (in the Aristotelian tradition). Or, they might include more modern concepts, like respect for nature, belief in human achievement, love for learning, etc. If you feel stuck, do some websearching; try searches like “personal values”.

    Let this list of values guide your life decisions. Perhaps you’ll discover things about yourself you may not have realized, and perhaps you might understand why you feel that you’re attracted to this individual even though your values seem to be polar opposites. Again, I speak from plenty of personal experience. I once thought I loved someone, and I realized that I detested the way they look at the world, and of course the contradiction frustrated me, much the way yours seems to frustrate you. It was after a lot of soul-searching that I realized what it was about them I cherished and I could then come to terms with my own feelings.

    Best wishes in all your endeavors, and I hope you will always be courageous and not compromise your feminist beliefs.

  4. I think it is about deciding what’s more of a priority to you… equal rights or a relationship. Many people choose the latter and that is fine. If you go the equal rights route there is a chance you may end up not having a relationship and that is hard for most people. On the other hand, if you do go the equal rights route then if you do find a relationship with someone who values equality as much as you it will be a more equal relationship, which of course requires hard work and not following the paths of least resistance. I encourage women not to settle for men who don’t engage in equality. It is one thing to say that you believe in it and it is another thing to walk your talk. All women deserve relationships where they are truly valued. I wish you the best in whatever you choose.

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