Feminism is not just for women, though women tend to be the front-runners of the cause, you may be more inclined to support it.
And that means talking about it.
I know that many of you may be worried about getting into a really confrontational discussion with women if you even try to talk about feminism. I know I was — and still am. I mean, when you picture a feminist, the first image that comes to mind is an aggressive woman getting angry at you, right?
But it shouldn’t be that way — especially since it’s not all about women, and most feminists aren’t that way.
However, despite feminism not being all about women, talking about feminism with women is different than talking about it with men.
Because you are in power already.
It doesn’t happen all of the time, and there are lots of feminists who don’t do this, but some women get really defensive of their cause as a result. Feminism started out as a movement for women’s rights, rightfully so — women had pretty much no power. And although it’s becoming more obvious that it’s a movement for general equality, it still came from women fighting to be respected, so they don’t want to be shut down by another guy.
If this is something you’re worried about, I get it. But don’t let it stop you! Discussing the cause is really important.
To help you out if you’re nervous, here are a few tips on how to talk about feminism with women. A lot of these tips can be applied to any controversial topic though — so it’s not as scary as you think!
Try to be as open-minded as possible.
The thing that I find most often gets men angry when talking about feminism is that there are a few ideas that make them get defensive.
And that’s okay.
Just recognize when you are feeling defensive and try to calm yourself so that you can listen.
Don’t get me wrong — I don’t mean that feminists are always right when they tell you something about men in general.
I understand that you want to defend yourself, because it sucks to know that your gender benefits from the same system that oppresses women.
Remember this: It’s not your fault that you are a man any more than it’s a woman’s fault that she is a woman.
Most of the time, there’s no reason to get defensive because it’s not personal. And that’s really important to remember.
Just truly listen before you begin arguing, because so much of the time, that’s what this is about.
You hold power as a man within a patriarchal society, and that means that when you listen, you are helping to solve the problem. But when you’re not, you’re only worsening the problem.
Just listen first. Then talk.
If from listening you can tell that the women are bashing men, then try to share your knowledge. They’re probably a little misguided about what feminism is about.
But if you don’t listen first, they won’t want to hear anything you have to say. I mean, who likes being shut up before they’ve even started talking? You must show respect for everyone’s opinion before you can share your own.
If you want to argue a point, do so calmly.
This is something I’m working on myself, because I get really passionate about feminism and sometimes that means I’m getting a little too into it. And it’s one of the most important things to remember when you’re thinking about how to talk about feminism, because it’s such a controversial topic.
But I don’t mean that you need to walk on eggshells. Just be respectful.
If you disagree about something, don’t yell about it.
Just make your point and show that you want to discuss it.
Probably one of the best things to do when you’re confused, or when you disagree about something, is to ask questions.
Ask, ask ask!
“What do you mean?” is a really important one when you disagree, because sometimes you just need some clarification, and it gives the other person a chance to reorganize their thoughts.
But generally, get more clarification as you discuss, no matter what.
Because not only might you learn a bit more, but it will help show that you are not defensive, and that you want to understand.
Admit that you are learning.
Just say, “I’m actually pretty new to feminism. Can we talk about this a bit more?”
You don’t have to pretend that you know everything! The fact that you want to learn more about feminism is great in itself. The journey to undestanding starts with learning, after all.
And admitting that means that things won’t go over our head because they’ll explain stuff to you, and better yet, you’ll actually learn something!
And in general, people LOVE talking about stuff they know well or are passionate about so you’ll learn a crap ton from anyone just by showing that you’re interested.
Which reminds me…
Show that you’re engaged.
This is one of the best tips for how to talk about feminism, because it means that you aren’t ignoring them and shows your support. Just look the person in the eye and let them know you’re interested!
And it means the world to any female feminist to meet a guy who is interested in feminism or supports it. It really helps to know that there are men backing us, because so many people think that feminism hates men.
But most importantly…
Remember to think for yourself.
You will meet feminists who are angry man-haters, and you will meet feminists who shame other women for wearing makeup and doing other things that really don’t make them anti-feminist.
Absolutely talk to them, discuss, and learn more. But don’t believe everything you hear.
Think for yourself. Come up with your own opinions. Read and do your own research.
Maybe you’ll end up educating others too!
Am I missing any good tips, specifically about how to talk about feminism? What else are you worried about when talking to fellow feminists?
Ready to talk about feminism? Awesome! Check out the next post in this series, 6 Privileges You Don’t Realize You Have.