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Last night I was at a party and I need to talk about it.

(54 Posts)
KeepsAwayTheNargles Sun 26-Jun-16 19:22:41

It started with a BBQ at 2, so early. There still weren't many of us there at 3 and after a throwaway comment I made that I now can't actually remember a young guy I don't know leant over and said "Oh, so you're a feminist, are you?" like it was a dirty word, which honestly hasn't happened to me in a few years.

Later on, he came over to me when I was talking to a friend and DH, and started apologising "if [he'd] offended me". I told him that he hadn't, after which he informed me that it was just that he'd "love to talk to you about your opinions, because I really think I can show you that you're wrong" hmm

I politely declined as I just wanted to have a relaxed evening with my friends. He kept asking, saying repeatedly that it was okay if I didn't want to but then asking again. Eventually I just wanted him to shut up and go away, so I said "go on then, say what you want to say to me and I'll give you the response you're after".

Basically what followed was a 3.5 hour long debate (which kept me away from my DH and friends) during which I tried to help a young (24), clearly misguided 'nice guy' misogynist see the light, at least a little. Every now and then someone would ask what we were talking about - he would tell them he was "correcting my opinions" (I don't think he realised but everyone else at the party was very obviously on my side!).

After about 3 hours his 'loo breaks' and 'getting a drink' breaks increased, so I asked if he wanted to stop the conversation (it was pretty intense). He insisted that he didn't, then would follow it with things like "I'll be back to mentally own you in a minute".

But his confidence broke down, and in the end it turned out he had had an abusive childhood, had control issues, and his ex had accused him of raping her multiple times, he hated himself for this, and had turned his anger outward to feminism as well as inward on himself (obviously with good reason). He cried a lot, I could see the great deal of pain he was in (whilst obviously being devastated for his poor ex). I tried at this point to reassure him that I didn't think he was an evil person, that we all do bad things and he should allow himself to feel the pain of what had happened and learn from it moving forward in life. After a few minutes he basically ran off to cry/break down in the bathroom and I went and got our mutual friend to take over with him, feeling a but of a shit to be honest.

So basically I'm struggling with me feelings about this incident and I'm trying to process it and really need to talk about it. I used to be very politically active and relish these conversations even though pre-DS I wasn't very good at them but now I actively avoid them because with a toddler and trying to have a life I just don't have the headspace at the moment, so my activism is passive at present.

I'm confused. I am...
- proud of myself for breaking through/winning the debate/beating the misogynist
- annoyed that he didn't at any point see the irony of him forcing himself on me verbally, not listening when I told him no multiple times, not listening when I told him his body language was aggressive (tall so kind of towering over me, gesticulating close to my face while doing his nice-guy-pensive patronising face and beard-stroking)
- very upset and worried about the young man who when I left was still crying on friends sofa and basically having a total breakdown
- hoping this will be a positive breakthrough moment in his life
- worried it will be a triggering awful moment in his life and lead to depression/self injury
- pissed off at my self for worrying about him when I didn't want the conversation and he literally asked for it.

He seemed so confident that he could "break me" right up to the point that I broke him. I don't know how to feel about the most successful debate of my life, because of the end result. Its so complicated - if he had won and made me cry no doubt he would feel bad but not like I do because I'm socialised to care more. But on the other hand it seems a bit Grown Ass Woman Who Knows Her Shit vs. Upstart Man-Boy With Heap Of Personal Pain and though I didn't know it was an unfair fight when I gave in after his pushing, its clear to me now that it was.

And I also hate myself for feeling it was unfair etc and like I should've gone easier on him because really that's ridiculous.

Sorry for the essay but I could really use some external thoughts/reassurances on this sad I've been out of the game for a while anyway and this has really thrown me!

Hislopssloppyseconds Sun 26-Jun-16 19:28:51

He probably wont remember any of it today or if he does will be mortified that he was crying/poured his heart out.

JellyMouldJnr Sun 26-Jun-16 19:37:44

Wow, I think you were a lot more patient with him than I would have been. Let's hope it is a turning point for him, but if not there's nothing else you could have done.

ChocChocPorridge Sun 26-Jun-16 19:53:45

You're worrying because you're a nice person, who was also socialised like most women not to want to rock the boat, and certainly not to make strangers cry.

He is young, yes, but 24 is old enough that he knew what he was getting into, he didn't just ask for it, he demanded it, thinking that he would win (and would he be soul searching after? Of course not, he would be smug and crowing about it).

It was terribly rude of him to monopolise your time like that at a party, if nothing else!

Unfortunately, if my experience is anything to go by, in a week's time he will have re-written the discussion so that you used some terrible feminist dishonest tactic to poke at his sensitive spots until you won. I've yet to see one of these young MRA types actually listen to a women (as if! What a crazy thought!) and modify their opinions based on what they've heard.

AskBasil Sun 26-Jun-16 20:01:19

I tend to agree with ChocChocPorridge, he'll re-write the script to make you into evil man-hater who triggered all his sensitivities etc.

OTOH being optimistic about it, you may have done him the most enormous favour of his life. He may well have never told anyone about the abuse he has suffered and this may be his catalyst to get the help and support he needs.

Either way, you already know that you are not responsible for his feelings, behaviour, interpretation of the events of yesterday or course of future action.

And no, you should not have gone easier on him. You went as easy as it is possible to go without becoming a doormat. Well done. flowers

Newes Sun 26-Jun-16 20:05:17

He got progressively more drunk and more maudlin and monopolised your evening. You're a better woman than I for putting up with his shit at a social occasion.

You didn't owe him Feminism 101, your personal journey and thoughts and your time.

VestalVirgin Sun 26-Jun-16 20:07:42

... do you think his ex's rape accusations were wrong? Or are you beating yourself up for making a rapist cry?

Either way, no need to feel bad - he got free psychoanalysis out of it, while you ... wasted hours of your life talking to someone who clearly hates you.

I have no patience for misogynists, and would quite probably have left the party rather than talked to him. You're a hero for putting up with him for so long.
Maybe he'll change because of your kindness. Not terribly likely, but hey, one can believe in fairytales, eh?

You didn't make him cry. He made himself cry. He knew what he was getting into - he wanted to talk about it even though he must have known that he has issues.

VestalVirgin Sun 26-Jun-16 20:09:15

And I also hate myself for feeling it was unfair etc and like I should've gone easier on him because really that's ridiculous.

Don't hate yourself. You are socialised to care, it's only natural. Just acknowledge that you feel that way and that it is ridiculous, but don't judge yourself.

dementedma Sun 26-Jun-16 20:09:17

I can't believe you ignored your dh and friends at a social event to spend 3.5 hours breaking down someone who disagreed with your beliefs. You must be a right laugh at parties

KeepsAwayTheNargles Sun 26-Jun-16 20:10:32

Thanks for the replies. I really hope its a positive turning point yes, and I'm glad it happened if its made a bit of difference. I'm trying really hard to not feel responsible for his sadness/any future action but obviously its hard as that's what I've been trained to do!

I am at least extremely proud of how well it went for me - I've got a 21mo and haven't done anything like that in years yet I managed to be calm and articulate and also was told by a few others in their early 20s at the party that it had made a positive impression on them smile my socialisation is fighting me on it though and trying to make me feel guilty instead of proud.

AskBasil Sun 26-Jun-16 20:12:57

Dementedma read the OP again.

The OP is quite clear that the young man in question, would not take no for an answer and insisted she engage with him for 3 and a half hours.

And you are blaming her for his insistence?

Says everything we need to know about you.

Next.

KeepsAwayTheNargles Sun 26-Jun-16 20:14:33

X-posts.

Vestal it was complicated because it was a BDSM relationship and related to not using safe words. I tried to explain to him why his ex might feel that way but tried more to focus on him needing to make sure it never happened again.

demented did you miss the part where I really didn't want to and he wouldn't leave me alone? DH was with his friends, he doesn't need me hanging off his arm all night since he's a grown man and perfectly capable of having a good time without me hmm and I did get into and enjoy the challenge of the discussion until the end of it. I would've preferred he left me alone to have fun when asked to multiple times but he didn't, hey ho.

KeepsAwayTheNargles Sun 26-Jun-16 20:15:17

Thanks AskBasil grin

BerylStreep Sun 26-Jun-16 20:21:16

He sounds utterly tiresome & unpleasant. Loads of people have bad shit in their past, and they don't become like him.

Newes Sun 26-Jun-16 20:22:37

It's abusive not to leave someone alone when asked. Feminism isn't a party trick to be wheeled out on the whim of some guy at a party.

dementedma Sun 26-Jun-16 20:22:38

So a man insisted you engage with him, and you weren't able to stop this? Oh dear. Says everything I need to know.
You also said you enjoyed the discussion.
You didn't want to engage with him, he insisted on it, and you enjoyed it. Interesting .

Newes Sun 26-Jun-16 20:23:30

Ugh, dementedma, you're coming across a bit unsavoury there, did you know? hmm

dementedma Sun 26-Jun-16 20:25:18

Why? Because I'm confused that the OP was on the one hand annoyed by this man's insistence, and yet enjoyed engaging with him for 3 hours, apparently unable to tell him to fuck off and leave her in peace?
But ok. I'll leave you all to it.
Have a good evening

KeepsAwayTheNargles Sun 26-Jun-16 20:27:04

Not going to engage with people who seem to have their own agenda here.

Newes that was one of the points I pressed on him through the course of the conversation - that his treatment of me alone was abusive and showed that he was willing to ignore lack of consent. This was before I even knew about the ex.

Newes Sun 26-Jun-16 20:28:54

There you go, dementedma. You're capable of reading signals and not imposing MeMeMe on people for a prolonged period of time. Miles ahead of the game, unlike the manipulative specimen OP was unlucky enough to be stuck with smile

Newes Sun 26-Jun-16 20:33:05

I'm not going to criticise you for continuing to dance to his tune, Keeps. I have been there too, when I was younger. It's a sort of fear of what they will do if you insist, even in company, plus genuinely caring about people, even the ones you know are overstepping your boundaries.
But you shouldn't feel responsible for where he goes from here. Hopefully it will be to professional support, if he is serious about reflecting on his past actions and experiences.

thatstoast Sun 26-Jun-16 20:34:47

oh my god, you must have the patience of a saint. I would have just left, i haven't got time for that. That's his shit, don't take it on.

KeepsAwayTheNargles Sun 26-Jun-16 20:43:59

I also have a weakness for trying desperately to make a positive difference in the world... You're all making me feel ok about letting it go and not feeling responsible for his reaction though, so thanks smile

KeepsAwayTheNargles Sun 26-Jun-16 20:44:59

(Meaning that's the part of my brain that thought maybe I should actually give in and try to win.)

ApocalypseSlough Sun 26-Jun-16 20:51:31

Eugh he sounds awful and you have the patience of a saint.
I cba to be anyone's teachable moment. wink

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