Are you the “feminist” friend in your group of mates? If so, you’ll recognise and connect with the following stories of being the “feminist” friend.
For myself it’s not so much friend as family member. I come from a big family of “speakers-over-the-topers” so making my opinion heard loudly and clearly comes naturally to me. Sadly, lately, I’ve been told to pipe down on a number of occasions, by people I love and respect and had previously thought above such chastisement. Still, as “feminist family member” I’ve had the indignity of close family members roll their eyes and sigh audibly. I’ve had people I love ask “is this one of those things?” when I start discussing a topic close to my heart and I’ve had quiet conversations on the side where I’m told that my opinions, while fine for the family dinner table, are just not appropriate when in wider society. Unlike a lot of my friends, I don’t get this disdain when in wider friendship groups and work because, luckily for me, I move mostly in overt feminist circles. When I start on a topic of concern, the people I’m with generally nod in agreement and add their personal experience and opinion. I’ve heard through friends however, that this is not always the case, that for some people the feminist badge is something they have to wear at personal societal risk, that because of their commitment to gender equality and basic feminist theory they risk the eye roll, the audible sigh, and worse, the avoidance and guidance of conversation away from potential topics of passion. It saddens me that this is the way activists and altruists have to live, in constant fear of social ridicule based on their beliefs, in fear of the label “the feminist friend”.
On the weekend I had one of those rare moments when I realised that not everyone is on quite the same page as me. I was at my cousin’s pre-wedding-BBQ-in-the-park, well actually it was kinda his pre-3rd-wedding-BBQ, he’s been spreading the wedding love by getting married three times, a fabulous idea in my books (and just on a side note, he’s married to a feminist. WOOT!). Anyway, we were doing this little exercise called “longest to least” where everyone at the party lines up in chronological order according to who has known my cuz the longest to the least. So I was down in the 1980’s (having known him since I was born) with a bunch of his school mates when someone made the comment,
“who comes first? The man or his mum?”
at which point I jumped forward excitedly saying
“ahhhhh! this is like the personhood debate in the US! If we decide that the man knows himself first then personhood exists and abortion is murder but if we decide that the mother knows him first than personhood is false and abortion is all fine and dandy!”
No one else seemed to agree that this was a point of excitement… or even remotely relevant to the discussion at hand. So there I was with a big dose of “feminist friend” standing in a line up of a load of people who I didn’t really know and who now thought I was obsessed with abortion (and most of them had kids with them). Ah well, at least with this dear cousin I know my feminism will never be too hot to handle. At least I think it wont.
I’m keen on making this a new repeat feature so if you want to write a story about being “the feminist friend” we want to hear about it! Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org