Talkin’ Feminism with Men Folk: Real Life Conversation

This is an excerpt from an actual IM conversation that I had with a male who I am friends with. The conversation was all normal and whatnot until it took a hard left turn into Feministville. I would like it to be known that I am not posting this to be malicious towards male friend; I just think it’s a shining example of how ingrained sexism is in our culture. Behold:

Dood: she’s not very nice

Tired Feminist: I’m sorry that she’s not nice

Dood: eh..girls will be girls

(Cocks Spock-esque eyebrow; I smell danger already.)

Tired Feminist: In what way?

Dood: petty and conspiratorial and subtly vicious

(Ah, shit.)

Tired Feminist: I’m not like that and I have a vagina

Dood: that is true but you are a woman not a girl

(…There are so many ways my dood friend could have responded that would have been worlds less offensive than this. fucking. response.)

This is just the beginning; you can dive deep into a morass of fruitless argument, privilege denial, and mansplanation after the jump…

Tired Feminist: I wasn’t like that when I was a girl

I’m not trying to be argumentative, at all

Dood: okay. point

Tired Feminist: I just try to avoid sweeping statements they can be….bad I tried to think of a better word but my brain wouldn’t let me

Dood: fair i go about it differently i imagine that people know that i’m stereotyping, that i know better, but that there are often circumstances to the effect i describe

Tired Feminist: I’m kinda confused by what you just said

Dood: so i imagine it is okay to knowingly stereotype

ah. okay.. attempts again (Note: he bolded this. this is what we call “IM frustration”. Poor dood, having to explain things to the silly feminist)

Tired Feminist: I understand why people use generalizations I just don’t really think it’s a very good idea because it continually perpetuates ideas that aren’t always true or good or…etc and please don’t think I’m trying to be mean or attacking at all  

Dood: you’re offering your opinon. i just think that it’s exhausting and superfluous to be politically correct all the time and single out individuals, when many people fit the same group.

as long as you know that it’s generalizing, it’s perfectly fine to abbreviate what otherwise might be a long speech by stereotyping slightly especially when you’re reciting old cliches (That is pure intellectual laziness, my dood friend.) and especially if you don’t actually feel that way

i feel

(I often find that people who are arguing against things like patriarchy/sexism/racism/etc. couch their language in words like “It’s just how I feel” and “In my opinion.” Because if everyone is just talking about their feelings and opinions then they can be completely disregarded and not thought about at all. No. I refuse to use language like that because I’m not just talking about my fucking feelings and opinions: I’m talking about real systems of oppression that actually exist and affect people’s lives every single day. And I refuse to let you invalidate that by suggesting that it’s all in my head or just “something I feel.”)

Tired Feminist: I can understand that. but…I don’t avoid stereotypes to be ‘politically correct’. (I fucking hate when people accuse me of trying to be politically correct; no, it’s not like I actually, you know, CARE about these things. I’m just trying to be politically correct!) i do it because i think language and the way we talk about groups of people are very important and involved in all kinds of interlocking systems that are connected to things like hatred, oppression, etc.  

Dood: definitely so however..between two people who hold such ideals such ideals can be relaxed, i feel and you don’t need to point out every single point at all times and constantly be on your watch.. just two different philosophies i guess

(Translation: So…I agree with you! But since we both KNOW that generalizations are bad it’s okay for US to use them. Because…we’re special! We’re in a special “allowed to generalize people” club!  And like, we both KNOW that it’s bad to say racist stuff, so it should be okay for us to say racist stuff when no minorities are around! Oh, and calm your tits, crazy feminist, you don’t have to be on guard all the time.)

Tired Feminist: i always am on guard about language and all that stuff. it’s super important to me. and i feel like if i let it go without commenting i am not actually living up to the beliefs i am passionate about i’m sorry if my language isn’t very eloquent right now; again, i’m really tired  

Dood: it’s fine happy saturday, regardless

Tired Feminist: but…again i’m not trying to hurt or attack you. (Note: It really angers me that even though I’M the one who’s trying to dismantle a system of language that perpetuates and enables things like rape, domestic violence, slut-shaming and a myriad of other forms of violence against women I have to constantly repeat things like “I’m not trying to hurt/attack/etc. you” just to get people to listen to me at all.)

Dood: I’m tired, not to mention slightly mutlitasky, but i see your points no need to repeat yourself

(Translation: You can shut up now.)

Tired Feminist: I’m just trying to point out how…like…if you say that someone is mean because they are a ‘typical girl’ or something that could be hurtful to me

Dood: i see your point

Tired Feminist: because i am also a lady does that make sense at all?

Dood: it’s certainly a way of looking at it (A way. But I totes don’t have to acknowledge it.) i don’t identify one way or another with other males especially if someone said “typical male” because i am atypical so i have difficulty seeing it from your perspective but if I did cause your feelings to be hurt, I apologize way i see it..we’re all individuals, and need not be proud of our gender since we’re so much more than it


Tired Feminist: okay but…you have to understand how that kind of language and generalizations are contributive to things like misogyny and sexist language. you did not actually hurt my feelings. i cannot separate myself from language about my gender because language and ideas about my gender affect me every single day whether i want them to or not.

Dood: hm

(Wow. I really feel like you’re giving my argument thought there, bro.)

Tired Feminist: and i don’t want you to think that i’m pointing a finger at you calling you a big old sexist meanie. we are all implicit in a sexist, racist, etc. society because we internalize hundreds of different messages about these things. that’s why it’s so important to me to point them out when i see them happening. it may seem minuscule in the grand scheme of things but it’s actually all more like a snowball.

Dood: seems like a well-intentioned gesture but one that might get you a lot of flak (Pointing out sexism is a “well-intentioned gesture.” Huh. Also, YA THINK?! This just in, world: FEMINISTS GET A LOT OF FLAK!)

Tired Feminist:  I’m used to the flak. i’m a card-carrying loud mouthed feminist. i catch flak every single day whenever i open my mouth about anything that’s not the point. i deal with it all the time from every angle; but these things are important to me. they’re what i think about and throw myself into and study and cry and yell about every single day. no amount of flak can make me stop talking about them.

Dood: o (Andreas: “This discussion of feminism brought to you by the letter O”.) well..i have clearly started something…i shall go to bed.

Dood is offline.

Moral of the story? Even perfectly nice, well-intentioned dood friends can and do participate in casual sexism and get totally pissy when you try to point it out to them. This is our misogynistic culture in action, folks.


Filed under Feminism, Personal

6 responses to “Talkin’ Feminism with Men Folk: Real Life Conversation

  1. God, this is just like so many conversations about racism/sexism I try to have with my sort of ignorant family members. I think you did a great job trying to calmly and politely explain what was wrong, too bad he didn’t seem to fully get it!

  2. My favorite thing is his contention that it’s okay to generalize because you should just know that he doesn’t actually mean it although he sort of really does.

    Amazing. This whole thing.

  3. I kind of got lost somewhere in the middle…all those big words…

    But if I may try to summarize/make sense of it, your male friend said that all girls are petty and bitchy and whatnot, then tried to justify it by saying that since he knows it’s wrong, he can use it/them. Or something.

  4. Ugh. Typical. Whenever these conversations arise, the person on the other end has a way of making you seem silly, hypersensitive, and combative. I hate that you felt the need to be so polite and apologetic, but sadly, it’s exactly the same thing I would’ve done.. and been sickened by a moment later. Cursed female politeness!!

  5. alpaca

    wow… someone linked me to this on facebook. on the one hand, yes, obviously, casual stereotyping hurts people at times (no, i do not believe that it always hurts people – that would be melodramatic). still, on some counts i could not disagree with you more; i never would have looked at this guy as being full of “male privilege” – i would have called him intellectually lazy and left it at that. i might even say that your quickness to point out what you perceive to be an attitude based on “male privilege” is very similar to his quickness to attribute other attitudes to “girliness.” what you call “male privilege” seems like an entirely tenuous construct; i sort of thought he was just acting like any mildly offended person would, but i suppose it must be due to his gender. boys will be boys. damn male privilege, gets me every time.

    (also, where i live any time anyone is not feminist enough they get flak. if you pull out an elaborately constructed feminist argument, you get moral brownie points and win automatically. actually, if you pull out a poorly constructed feminist argument, you get moral brownie points and win automatically.)

    • Ashley

      “Girliness” and “male privilege” are completely different things. “Girliness” are attributes that are associated with femininity (many of which are based in stereotypes), they can range from things like liking the color pink to being a gold digger. Male privilege is exactly what I said in the post: it’s being able to walk outside without worrying about what you’re wearing because hey, it might bring unwanted attention and it’ll be your fault because of what you wore. It’s not having to worry about sexual assault on a daily basis. There’s a whole check list. As for the implication that I’m being melodramatic: casual stereotyping does not reach out and slap people in the face every single time it happens. It does what I said in the post: perpetuates negative/untrue/baseless ideas and cliches about groups of people. And yes, that matters. If we go on believing small sexist (or racist or homophobic or etc.) things (like that women are bitchy, mean, petty, etc) then it makes it easier and more okay to believe the BIG sexist (or racist or homophobic or etc.) things (like that a woman who wears a short skirt is “asking for it”). These things are all connected.

      And, honestly, just think about it: would it be at all acceptable for this person to have said “blacks will be blacks”? No? Then why is it acceptable when it comes to stereotyping gender?

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