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I feel so alone. Nobody around me holds the same views and it is everywhere I go.

(71 Posts)
Splandy Wed 01-Feb-17 11:28:19

I identify as a feminist, hurrah! But this doesn't seem to help my life in any way. It means that I notice all of the shit and don't have a single friend who has similar thoughts and opinions to me. I try so hard to stay upbeat, but as soon as I go out the door and into the real world the shit is shoved in my face. I want to stay in and lock the door.

I took my 15 month old to a local toddler group yesterday, which is the first one I've been to. It was quite a big deal for me to do this, I've been feeling anxious about going out. I didn't expect anything amazing and the people were friendly enough, but I didn't fit in. It was obvious the second I walked in. My son was pushing around a little pink pram - he loves to push things and crawl behind them. One of the other moms said "oh, you won't want to send that photo to daddy!" and everybody laughed. I didn't understand what she meant at first, but then I realised. Not only was my son pushing a pram, but a pink one. Doesn't he know he has a penis?! I didn't say anything. Not saying anything has really played on my mind. I just looked away. She didn't mean anything by it and I doubt she's ever questioned it. It's so normal to her that she was using it as a way to break the ice, almost. I should have said something but I'm not confrontational and I'd just walked into a roomful of people who all know each other.

I am so, so tired of trying to meet people and invite people over only to realise that we are not at all similar and I can't truly be myself or talk about things with them. I invited a friend over last week, thinking it would cheer me up a bit, but I just realised that she doesn't know me that well at all and I hold back because it would just be uncomfortable.

I live on a rough council estate in a 'deprived' area. That's where this toddler group was held. Part of me wonders whether it is to be expected and I would need to move to a middle class area to find what I'm looking for. Is that true? I hope not. I don't feel like I fit in anywhere. I had one friend at school who was a brilliant, intelligent feminist, even then. We lost touch mostly, just facebook friends. She would've remembered me very differently to person I am now. I found her facebook posts to be very reassuring because she had lived here too and had the same opinions as me. Not only that, but she really lived it. Even though we didn't see each other anymore and she had moved away, knowing she was out there made me feel better. I was going to contact her and then she suddenly died. This was last year and I was distraught. The grief I felt was really over the top for a woman I hadn't seen or spoken to in years. She was only in her twenties and she was the most intelligent person I've ever known sad

What am I supposed to do?

BeyondCanSeeTheEmperorsBellend Wed 01-Feb-17 11:31:43

I'm afraid I don't have an answer sad

But I understand your situation entirely, I live in a very similar area. I have been told my ds2 must be transgender as he likes to play with dolls and wear princess dresses. He's four, ffs.

ChocoChou Wed 01-Feb-17 11:36:58

I didn't want to read and run because you do sound very lonely... I'm sure someone well versed in these issues will come along soon.
Maybe the lady was just trying to break the ice like you said and the best thing would've been to respond with a "haha no his dad wouldn't care, we don't believe in gendered toys" with a smile then get chatting.
Sometimes people just haven't thought it all through and it could even do her good to have a chat with someone who holds your views. Think of it as doing your good deed for the day- making her think outside of her comfort zone and question her own small minded ideas.
Also, regarding your old friend who died. Grief is a very strange thing- I was absolutely distraught when I saw that my old boss (from 15 years ago) had died of cancer even though I hadn't spoken to her properly since I left that job. It was just such a shock that someone so vibrant and full of life could be gone. I felt like a fraud grieving for her because we were no longer close but grief really does work in strange ways.
There are plenty of people out there with your viewpoints it's a case of finding them. Do you have other interests?

thethoughtfox Wed 01-Feb-17 11:37:11

People don't mean offence, they just believe what they and their parents before them have believed unless they really think about and engage with issues. Many people don't but MC people often have the time and education to engage with issues and a more varied social circle. You could be the one to bring up an other point of view and show people there are other ways of looking at the world.

mrsenasharples Wed 01-Feb-17 11:48:51

I'm not a feminist but I wouldn't care about about a little lad pushing a pink pram. I'd just be glad he was having a good time.

Could you try some other groups? Perhaps you just need to find people who are a little more open minded? I don't have children but do wonder if I would have any mum friends when I see some of the ladeez around here.

Have you looked at Meetup?

Datun Wed 01-Feb-17 11:57:21

With that particular comment, you could try getting your feminist viewpoint in through the back door, as it where.

"Haha! You noticed! I'm determined to raise him in a way that he can help his future wife with childcare. We could all do with the men mucking in now and then, right?!"

Most women will definitely have a view on how men don't help. You don't have to overload then with 'feminism' to access that.

Datun Wed 01-Feb-17 12:00:02

Just to add. Whilst most women definitely see gender roles being enforced and don't always like it, they don't tend to question it. 'That's just the way things are' is a fairly entrenched opinion.

Just wondering out loud about the reasons why? can sometimes give people pause for thought.

JosefK Wed 01-Feb-17 12:02:31

Sounds difficult.

I don't mean this snobbishly, but you probably won'the meet many people with liberal political views in a very deprived area at the moment. That's just a fact.

Are there any book groups or more cultural activities you could get involved with? You'd then be far more likely to meet people more on your wavelength.

coccolocco Wed 01-Feb-17 12:12:56

I get the impression you're lonely (maybe i'm wrong but i felt a deep sorrow from your post). Having young children is tough, isolating and the vast majority of us do feel like we have no one who really 'get us' if you know what i mean.
These are hard years for a lot of mothers, it's helped if you're lucky enough to have even one friend who you feel 'gets you'. I have no words of help for your feminism struggles, yet perhaps that's not your real problem maybe it's the feeling of not fully fitting in and having a support group 'people who you can bounce off' (the reality is people who are friends can have different views and oppinions as each other and still click). However, from my own personal experience of life and motherhood is that its tough and mostly lonely. Chin up!

Splandy Wed 01-Feb-17 12:28:21

Thanks for all of your comments. I definitely should have said something, anything! I just didn't feel able to. I want to find supportive people and friends, not have to go out and do this kind of thing when I already don't feel strong. The group itself wasn't what I was expecting because they all knew each other very well. A few of them were related to the woman running it, then another two were from a different family and another seemed to be a well known local childminder. They were all sitting around a table and fell silent when I walked in. I think I'll still probably go back though because it's better than sitting in the house all day. I struggle to get to other groups because I can't drive and they either start or finish close to school drop off/pick up times so I couldn't get back in time. I found the same sorts of opinions in all groups in this area when my eldest was little, though.

I don't think I would've spoken out at all, to be honest. Even making a little comment would have felt a big deal to me and I feel that I've let myself down now. I know that she definitely wasn't trying to be offensive. She was trying to be friendly and saying anything at all felt rude. Some of the people there were really, really rough. I've had problems in the past where it's clear I sound like a "stuck up bitch" to them. I'm not. I've always lived here. I had my first child at nineteen and definitely feel that I generally fit in here... until i speak to people a little more in depth! I know I lack confidence and it makes me feel I'm letting the side down, in a way.

I have many interests and am fascinated by the world and people in general, but struggle to find people I gel with. As I mentioned before, I realised last week that another friend doesn't know me well at all. Telling somebody I'm a feminist or even bringing it up at all feels like I'm admitting to some terrible crime because of the reactions it gets. Listing my other hobbies just makes it clearer that I don't fit in. I joined a local orchestra for a while and found it overwhelmingly middle class. Didn't fit in there, either.

I think if I do go back, I would eventually feel more comfortable and more able to say something in response. I just felt out of place. There was a youngish lad there with his mom. He sat there with a roll up hanging out of his mouth most of the time, being loud and they all kept swearing and shouting and saying things... I don't know. Not even questioning the things they were saying, but saying it and looking at me and smiling because of course it's true and everybody knows it. I would have felt like a right idiot saying 'actually... have you considered this?' as though I'm coming along and educating them like some sort of smug know-it-all, judging them when they're just making conversation. Not sure I've explained that very well. I've found throughout my life that I tend to make friends with people and they consider us to be much closer friends than I do because I know I'm not truly being myself. They like me because I'm holding back on what I really think.

Splandy Wed 01-Feb-17 12:35:37

JosefK, I find that utterly depressing. I don't understand it. I have always lived here. I consider myself a working class person. I was a single parent living on benefits for a while. Why the difference?

coccolocco, yes I agree. I feel particularly down at the moment which is why I've made the effort to get out or see people but it's made me feel worse. I do have other friends and don't think that I can only be friends with people who are exactly the same as me. But finding nobody at all like me is getting to me. I feel like I'm putting on an act all the time so as not to offend people and end up with nobody at all. When I'm in my house and I have the internet and can see a huge variety of opinions and opportunities and ideas out there, I feel ok. I think, yes, of course I can live here and be who I am and have all of these interests. And then I go into the real world.

Datun Wed 01-Feb-17 12:38:05

I think a lot of people have experienced what you are saying OP. We can all 'fake it' to some
degree, just out of empathy and politeness. Definitely try the group again, if only to break up the day and give your DC some company. They don't have to be your best friends.

And use MN to vent!

shartsi Wed 01-Feb-17 12:41:03

What do you mean when you say some people were really really rough?

JosefK Wed 01-Feb-17 12:48:16

Splandy there seems to be a working-class reaction against liberalism, feminism, multiculturalism at the moment. Brexit was very much an expression of that.

I'd like to emphasise very strongly that I'm not saying all working class people are backward...just're not very likely to meet many Guardian reading feminist types in certain social environments. These will be mostly be very ordinary people, and often very nice people - but they possibly won't be as politically engaged as you are.

Trying not to sound like a snob. hmm

DownHereInTheHorridHouse Wed 01-Feb-17 12:58:11

You sound really down Splandy - and I'm not surprised. I can relate to so much of this, from the baby/toddler years even up until now, when I'm old enough that it shouldn't bother me what anyone else thinks (I don't mean politically - that should always bother all of us very much - I mean about what 'sort' of person I am).

Have you looked on FB to see if there are any local feminist groups? If you're in a city, maybe there's one linked to the local university?

Splandy Wed 01-Feb-17 13:12:49

Using MN to vent seems very cowardly when I'm not doing anything about it in real life. Perhaps I am simply a coward.

shartsi, I mean that they were nice to me and making conversation etc, but from the way they behaved and the things they said, seemed that they could quickly turn and become aggressive. The word 'rough' doesn't have a specific meaning to me. I've had many friends like this over the years. There were a few specific things said, which I don't want to repeat because I could end up outing myself, but they were quite shocking.

JosefK, I also don't know how to describe things to other people without sounding like a snob. But I am exactly what you just described: a guardian reading feminist type living here as I always have done. I found brexit very, very tough. I didn't discuss it with anybody because I couldn't. The few moms at the school I would consider to be friends were angrily shouting that anybody who voted remain was welcome to fuck off abroad since they were unbritish. I actually cried at home. I've never felt so uncomfortable in my own area with my own friends. My husband's friends sent pictures of monkeys in their whatsapp group and were celebrating. I am surrounded by this and if I was to cut out everybody who was sexist or racist I would be utterly alone. Other than my husband, of course!

GeekLove Wed 01-Feb-17 13:33:37

I feel you Splandy. With Brexit and Trump I almost feel like I'm back at school again. I am fortunate that I work in STEM and have many STEM colleagues and friends who feel similarly to how I do. However, I am also surprised and dismayed at how many people I thought I knew well being pro-Brexit, though I suspect it has changed given the lack of foresight and Trump's Presidency!
It is the attack on science and women's reproductive rights which is scary. America's women face almost a severe threat against them as in Chalchescu's Romania. They haven't got the Menstrual Police yet!

But yes I've been the 'stuck up bitch' because I'm an introvert (read big NERD) and I am something of an autodidact and want to share my knowledge. Being silent, nodding and smiling is almost too easy but I cannot do that without it killing me inside.
The thing is most people are racist to some degree (me included) but it is a spectrum and providing you know where you are and can own it and know when it is irrational. Thing is many people don't want to and will find ways of justifying it.

In dark times like this though it is all the more important to stick to your principles and keep your intellectual integrity. I have genuinely felt like staying in bed and hiding and like a big fraud in front of my DCs. But I cannot do that now. I wonder if this is the Patriarchy's last gasp, providing we are not complacent, and that this will be over one way or another. I see encouraging signs of defiance everywhere I look, don't let apathy drag you down.

Also bear in mind most people have fewer friends than you might think, in terms of people who know you well and will be your comrades and allies.
With respect to those other people you see at baby groups being all chummy, they might look tight on the surface, but what's really going on underneath? Also in the words of Oscar Wilde, better to be talked about than not talked about. You obviously are a more interesting person with a more interesting life than theirs!

Splandy Wed 01-Feb-17 13:36:47

My friend was an amazing person. She lived here, but not right on this estate. Her parents were liberal university professors. That's how she knew the word misogynist at eleven while I was busy being trained to become a docile housewife by my parents' fundamentalist church grin It bothers me that she'll never get that bloody message I was going to send her. I put it off because I didn't know if it was a bit weird. I don't even know exactly what she was doing at the time. I know she had worked for a charity for civil liberties and human rights. How could I not admire her? I sobbed when I found out.

BeyondCanSeeTheEmperorsBellend Wed 01-Feb-17 13:48:48

Where are you splandy? Approx area I mean, I don't expect an address grin

<holds out tiny hope that there is a feminist in my area!!>

GeekLove Wed 01-Feb-17 13:56:23

Sorry about your friend. But think about what YOU'VE done so far.
You're a feminist despite your upbringing and am setting an example to your children. You can see how important it is to maintain integrity and no doubt you'll get a job doing what you want to do not what someone else has said is all that's fit for you.

MNet may have its own bigots and fights -most of the Feminist board I find a bit scary (particularly the trans things even though I can understand some discomfort about women's spaces) and at times it doesn't seem to have much on practical feminism and be a bit divisive but this is a good place to be and I hope that there are people here near where you are.

But think about what you've achieved so far and keep on. It's hard and now it's likely to be harder since the 1950's but as long as we avoid complacency and do the good and useful things within reach we'll come through.

Also, I wouldn't worry too much about keeping up a front. It's tiring and self-defeating and ultimately do you want to be friends with people who are only friends with whom they think you are, rather than who you really are? It seems that your DH is a good guy which is a big help in times like this!

Owllady Wed 01-Feb-17 13:59:10

Please don't generalise. I'm from a working class family and we are all educated enough to know our worth, not let men treat us like crap and we don't use lazy gender stereotyping (or any stereotyping)
Please don't use the word backwards, it's ever so offensive sad

A bit of advice. If you want to make friends with people with similar interests, join groups etc you are interested in. The people at baby groups, at the school gates etc just have a child the same age as you. That's most probably all you have in common.

As for all the uneducated working classes voting brexit, I live in a commuter town, Tory stronghold, middle class, country living, Barbour, bankers etc Most voted benefits. It was very visible and ppl were very vocal about it, including my MP.

I voted in but I'm in a minority in my political views here so I tend to not share my opinions with random ppl.

Owllady Wed 01-Feb-17 14:00:28

Fuck that post sounded a bit harsh confused I didn't quite mean it in such a chippy tone!

LassWiTheDelicateAir Wed 01-Feb-17 14:07:11

the best thing would've been to respond with a "haha no his dad wouldn't care, we don't believe in gendered toys" with a smile then get chatting

No the best thing would be to say " his dad wouldn't care, it's just a toy"

No need to preach about not believing in gendered toys.

Sometimes people just haven't thought it all through and it could even do her good to have a chat with someone who holds your views. Think of it as doing your good deed for the day- making her think outside of her comfort zone and question her own small minded ideas.

Patronising the other women will not help you at all.

Splandy Wed 01-Feb-17 14:15:43

Owllady, was that to me or another poster? I don't think I've used the word backwards or done any generalising. I suppose when I said the the local orchestra was "overwhelmingly middle class" grin

I find it very difficult to get to any groups because I'm reliant on public transport and my husband's hours fitting around things, which they almost always don't. Those things need sorting out. I did contact a feminist group in the city years back. I'd forgotten about that! They met on an evening and it was impossible for me to get there whilst a single parent.

BeyondCanSeeTheEmperorsBellend Wed 01-Feb-17 14:15:52

Agree with lass, I don't think patronising anyone would help make friends.

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