My roommate is starting to turn me into an alcoholic, in that everytime we have any sort of discussion that isn’t about what to watch on TV, I feel like I need a stiff drink to deal with the fact that I have to tolerate half the things she says.
Now don’t get me wrong. She’s a lovely girl. She does the dishes without complaint, buys her share of the milk, never touches my chocolate stash, doesn’t pester me with her feelings. Never has wild parties and is actually good fun to have around.
She’s your totally normal, awesome friend.
But the thing is, she’s a misogynist who swears she’s not.
Now this is the girl who doesn’t agree with feminism as an idea. It’s not the first time she’s made these kinds of comments, and I do call her on it, but if you’ve ever argued with someone who has never really thought critically about their beliefs, you’ll find you get the same garbled, not quite-justified defense and then she’ll feign interest in something out of a window and change the topic.
Now, we fundamentally disagree with her when she says any of the following:
Women aren’t in the top jobs because they don’t “want it enough”
(Excuse me while I choke on my rage. If you’re nodding along with her by the way – this a bit like saying the Great Depression was everyone deciding they didn’t want to work anymore and going on a mass holiday).
Sexism doesn’t exist anymore
I fundamentally disagree. Oh and hey – so do all these people.
I’ve been frustrated to the point of tears, alcohol and long walks out of the house more than once trying to get her to realise that she is undermining herself by saying and believing these things – but more so that feminism isn’t something to be feared or scorned.
It’s just the pursuit of equality. Progress does not equal success.
But still when I tell people about this, even the sympathetic ones, all smile stiffly and tell me either to avoid talking about politics and philosophy with her or to move out.
Well, why don’t I just stop talking about it?
For a few reasons actually. The first is that social change and policy is a massive part of who I am. I wasn’t raised with these ideas. My parents gave me a good grounding and strong morals but I sought this stuff out and it matters to me.
So…why don’t you leave?
There’s two reasons. The first is that I’m really not made of money and I can’t afford to pick up and leave whenever I decide on a whim. That’s not practical on any level.
The second, more foolish, is that I’m not sure I can leave this unfinished. I’m a feminist because I believe that if we educate people to question what they hear then even if they don’t agree with me, at least they’ll be able to have a conversation about issues from an informed point of view (and maybe she’ll be able to end a conversation without saying “Oh there’s a flashing light outside – I wonder what that is?”).
Today I taught her how the House of Reps vs. the Senate works.
Maybe tomorrow she’ll realise rape jokes aren’t funny.