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Feeling attacked now I speak up about being a feminist

(79 Posts)
thefinerthingsinlife Sun 12-Sep-10 18:55:30

Within the last few months I have 'become' a feminist, so bear with me (I'm still learning smile )

I have started speaking out about things that bother me and I get a similar response most times along the lines of theres "no need for feminism" and "what about the 'poor hard done by' men" and "agh stop being such a bloody feminist"

I feel like i'm banging my head against a brick wall.

How do you all deal with this?

ISNT Sun 12-Sep-10 19:06:32

It's hard isn't it, you start seeing things to annoy you everywhere, and people say things that make you go gah!!!

TBH I am a bit of a wuss and tend to only challange people if I think they will listen, or if they have said something utterly ludicrous.

The rest of the time I bite my tongue.

Pathetic I know, but really, it's hard to be arguing all the bleeding time!!!

It's exciting though, all this newfound knowledge and talking on here. All of this is really new to me. Have you read any books? there is a bookclub on here and i think a new one just started. I am reading one at the mo but it's going to take me about a year - maybe I should put it to one side and join the book club <muses>

UnePrune Sun 12-Sep-10 19:18:43

I say 'I am not an activist in the traditional sense, but it's impossible to be an observant, thinking woman without being aware of the small and big things we put up with on an almost daily basis'.

Basically I don't care if someone thinks less of me for being aware and taking issue with certain things (as an example, my anger at not being able to walk home fairly early at night without fear). If they dismiss me for that, they can fuck off. I mean that.

thefinerthingsinlife Sun 12-Sep-10 19:44:33

ISNT is know exactly what you mean about it being hard to argue your point all time. I've read a couple of books including The Equality Illusion and i'm currently reading Living Dolls.

UnePrune thats how i'm starting to feel, but it's hard to get into that mind set when you've been a doormat for so many years iyswim

ISNT Sun 12-Sep-10 19:52:58

I find that it's really helpful to have MN. Then when something happens in RL that I don't feel up to arguing about, I can keep a lid on it and come here and offload!

I did a thread recently because I accidentally got into a big row with a woman at work - it was all very upsetting. It was one of those things though where I just couldn't let it go. Having people to talk to on here afterwards was really good.

ISNT Sun 12-Sep-10 19:53:48

Is the equality illusion good?

I've got The Beauty Myth to read next.

thefinerthingsinlife Sun 12-Sep-10 19:59:30

Thats exactly the reason I posted. I knew the ladies on here would be able to make me feel better and guide me.

Yes very good and very informative, I learnt a lot from it

ISNT Sun 12-Sep-10 20:06:45

smile i love it here too. Some people say that it's no good being surrounded by people that broadly agree with you, as ideas should always be challenged. I say that feminist ideas are challenged/ignored so much in real life, that a space like this on MN is very much needed!

thefinerthingsinlife Sun 12-Sep-10 20:08:23

I couldn't agree more

JessinAvalon Sun 12-Sep-10 20:11:52

Hi thefinerthings

I completely understand and yes, it can be infuriating! I am proud to be a feminist but a lot of people are scared off by the word. In my peer group of women in their early 30s, hardly anyone would say they are a feminist too except for those people I met through feminist groups.

And I have to say that the people I've met through my feminist groups - men and women - are some of the nicest, kindest, most intelligent, and 'enlightened' people that I've come across.

I think that feminism was deliberately made a dirty word. Even my own mother thinks I'm in some sort of cult and I can't tell her about half of the stuff that I do. It's a shame but I think that it was done deliberately. Turn it into a dirty word, make women feel ashamed to say the word, and hopefully they'll distance themselves from the movement and maybe go away altogether.

I think that happened for a time but there's a big resurgence now. I have a lot of feminist friends now and it's really heartening to be able to turn to them when some people just don't "get it".

I think people don't want to get it either. They don't want to believe that we need it still but we do.

I don't know if you're a member of any feminist groups but you might want to consider joining one to get some more moral support in person. One of my groups meets once a month and you can be involved as little or as much as you want.

I, too, had a heated discussion with a woman in work who said that there was nothing wrong with 'Hooters'. I was just so stunned that she would say this that I could barely string a coherent sentence together! I sometimes feel that women are their own worst enemy, unwittingly probably.

It takes guts to stand up and speak out about something that gets shot down. Feminist bashing is a very popular sport! I have been called every name under the sun in the newspapers lately and all because I object to 'Hooters'!

Hang on in there!!

ISNT Sun 12-Sep-10 20:16:28

Welcome to MN Jess i have seen your threads smile

My work argument was very similar, i assumed that the women I work with in a very female-friendly nicey lefty environment would agree with me that advertising jobs in the sex industry in the job centre was a bad thing. How wrong I was hmm

tribpot Sun 12-Sep-10 20:19:05

I think you are having a 'zealous convert' moment, which is perfectly fine and understandable - if the scales have fallen from your eyes you want everyone to know! I don't think I ever use the word feminist at work but I know damn well my colleagues know I am one.

You will know from MN that the word can have negative connotations for people (men and women) and I think there are genuine inequalities for men that ought to be addressed as well as the ever-present inequalities for women. (Paternity leave, for example). Yes one could be purist and say "well that's genderism rather than feminism" but given the vast majority of the bias goes one way, feminism works as a 'label' for me.

Keep speaking out. Your voice should be heard. Politely, of course, but as firmly as necessary.

thefinerthingsinlife Sun 12-Sep-10 20:32:59

I'm only 23 so no one I my age group seems to understand or be intersted in feminism.

I think you're right about being a zealous convert trilpot grin

sethstarkaddersmum Sun 12-Sep-10 20:43:49

You can also join UK Feminista and go on the discussion boards there - some of us joined recently when lots of the feminist threads on here were getting trolled or derailed.

I find the hardest thing is when I fail to convince friends who I respect & whose opinions matter to me that certain issues are important.

I don't care if the other mums at school or (ex-)colleagues or whoever think I am a loony feminist, but when I've argued and argued with good friends (specially ones who used to be feminists themselves once hmm) and still not got them to care, it really gets to me.

On the plus side, people you're not expecting turn out to be feminists. One of my FB friends is someone I was at school with that I never knew that well but she always responds to the feminist stuff I post there. Also my brother has been brilliant - I was telling him about some feminist stuff I'd been reading and his response was 'Tell me about it! Since I've been promoted there aren't any women at my level in the organisation any more - what's going on?' (and he got his MP to sign the Object charter smile)

scottishmummy Sun 12-Sep-10 20:50:12

i suppose it is like any topic one is passionate about.get it right and is thought provoking interesting discussion.get it wrong and can be hectoring and preachy.only you know how you present and represent feminism.and do accept others may not share your enthusiasm

here a tip - if you find yourself calling anyone anti-feminist you have veered into bulgy eyed zealot

ClimberChick Sun 12-Sep-10 20:56:49

Know what you mean, it's like you need to out yourself. Told my mum today I was reading a feminist book (the whole woman for the book club) and got surprised face and summit along the lines of "what do you want to do that for"

You don't want to come across as preachy, but when you start thinking about it in detail it's like a big veil has been lifted and you see things everywhere. It's a whole new world to explore and it's hard because you wanna share what you've learnt, your excitement and indignation.

TessOfTheBurbs Sun 12-Sep-10 21:11:01

I'm prepared to be flamed for this or at least get a light singeing, but when I'm talking to people like that, I tend to discuss issues or share my opinion without relying on words like feminist and sexist. I find that if you say "X is bad because it's sexist", people who haven't already seen the sexism will just think "Oh, she thinks it's bad because she has all her funny ideas". Or if they initially disagree with you and you straight away say something like "That's dragging feminism back about 50 years", they will decide that they're therefore against feminism. I know because I used to be one of those people blush and I would just switch off at what I perceived to be somebody using their own internal logic. What was most effective on me was to hear it spelt out exactly why you thought XYZ was damaging, and then have the link made with feminism. My hope is that when people start to see these issues, they will then be more receptive towards feminism as a whole. I could, of course, be completely wrong and just perpetuating feminism as a dirty word. I'll be watching this thread with interest to pick up some ideas.

dittany Sun 12-Sep-10 21:14:48

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TessOfTheBurbs Sun 12-Sep-10 21:16:50

Feel I should explain myself a bit more, what I'm trying to say is that there is a lot of ignorance out there about what feminism and sexism is, so that's why I sometimes try not to 'confuse' people from the outset.

That said - I admire those who shout it loud and proud, wear "This is what a feminist looks like" t-shirts etc.

thefinerthingsinlife Sun 12-Sep-10 21:17:27

I see your point Tess and it makes sense to me.

I'd like to think i'm not preachy as i've 'converted' one of my male friends to feminism. Previously he thought all feminists were man haters etc now he's going to read Living Dolls when i've finished with it and sees the 'battle' women have to go through smile

TessOfTheBurbs Sun 12-Sep-10 21:21:09

Ooh that's good about your male friend!

Glad I managed to make some sense too smile

scottishmummy Sun 12-Sep-10 21:26:48

is all about time and timing.knew a new veggie used to bang on and on about it,full works - stats,anecdotes,booklists,hectoring everyone.and had opposite effect,any moral high ground lost in her eulogising froth.

UmYeahLikeTotally Sun 12-Sep-10 21:27:33

Hi Thefinerthings.

Just wanted to say hi, and to let you know you're not alone; I'm new to feminism too. (And I'm 24!)

When I told my Mum that I was reading The Equality Illusion, she said "Oh, turning into a lefty lesbian now, are you?!" hmm She was joking I think (I hope!), but comments like that just goes to show the common viewpoint on feminism right now.

ClimberChick Sun 12-Sep-10 21:31:32

scottishmummy: I've mastered the art of breaking it to people that I'm a vegan. That's kinda easy as there is a 'legitimate' reason for it to come up in conversation. I always wait until they spot something, hard to do that with feminism. I like the analogy though, there is a lot of similarities.

<adds more books to reading list>

tribpot Sun 12-Sep-10 21:33:53

Yay to our 20-something sisters finding their way! If it helps, if I told my mum I was reading The Equality Illusion she would say "what the hell, you should have read that years ago!" (I actually haven't read it - neither's she come to that, should we? - but she would be horrified by any suggestion that we didn't need feminism/weren't feminists).

scottishmummy is right, though, it's natural to want to eulogise your new beliefs. Not everyone has to share them, only respect them.

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