“I see a misogynistic post on Facebook. Should I comment? Do I police my tone? Does it matter who posted it?”
Considering this is basically half of Facebook if you’ve been raised anywhere mildly rural or conservatively leaning, (or honestly anywhere ever populated by human beings), it’s honestly hard to react to every single post that fills you with rage. If you want to spend an entire day in front of your keyboard, crafting multiple well-thought-out arguments just to have them figuratively shit upon by illogical waffle you’re more than welcome to do so.
But start with your closest friends and work your way outward. Strangers on the Internet couldn’t give a rat’s ass about your very eloquent understanding of anything. But friends usually have to listen to you on and off Facebook. The most successful commentary I’ve made about feminism is always with a friend who is either a.) being misogynistic on accident, b.) being misogynistic on purpose or c.) doing it to inspire my fiery currents of anger for shits and giggles.
I’m of the mind that my friends are always held to a higher standard than strangers on the Internet. If you can’t tell your friends they’re being terrible humans, how are you going to tell some rando dude constantly shitposting with perpetual Cheeto dust all over his lap?
Here’s how to react to your friends, or at least how I do it:
a.) You can point out the flawed logic in your friend’s post with a joke and ease them away from ignorance lightly. Be a little gentle.
b.) Destroy their will to survive. Kidding. But in all fairness, if you’ve got a close friend that’s really politically incorrect and doesn’t seem to care, this is when you become more forceful. Use your logical appeal, use your knowledge of their actions and reactions, use whatever you can think of to mold a conversation that might actually pull them out of their strange little hole. And even pester them in person if you have to. Or else this person is a perfect candidate to become a stranger.
c.) This is really a niche group and I honestly just .gif reaction the shit out of them until they leave me alone.
Once you have your friends figured out, move on to strangers. But don’t expect to change someone’s mind and don’t expect to change the world. But don’t let people be ignorant assholes either. Stand up for what you want to say and just say it. Policing your tone is fine with your grandma, not with someone combative and disrespectful. Unless that person is also your grandma. Then it gets complicated…
“When a woman says something incorrect about feminism, how do I help her without mansplaining?”
Here’s the thing with this: feminism is supposed to be this really concrete concept, right? Equality for all and everything? But a lot of women don’t see it that way. The Women Against Feminism movement has been a thing since 2014, and while some of their rhetoric is problematic, it’s not entirely wrong.
There’s a disconnect between women who see feminism as a very brash, self-righteous, and often combative movement and feminists who think women who hate feminism are just stuck in the 1950s. Have I called someone an idiot for believing they understood what feminism was? Oh hell yeah. But the more you think about it, that just personifies their idea of feminists as SJWs who stomp on weaker women to choke out the patriarchy.
And if there’s a debate among women like this, honestly you have no chance as a dude trying to preach what you think is the feminist gospel. And while you may feel like you must correct someone’s knowledge, that mansplaining thing is going to bite you in the ass no matter how hard you try to word your argument.
Men and women have different conversational goals that can be explained by basic interpersonal communication theory. Disclaimer: #notallmen #notallwomen.
1.) Men see conversation as a means to an end, as a way to establish a productive pattern. They actively listen in order to respond, and do so in a problem-solving fashion; they freely give advice and direction in order to solve the problem being conveyed.
2.) Women see conversation as a way to flesh out ideas aloud. The conversation itself is productive in problem-solving by voicing concerns and working through them as they are spoken. They listen for content rather than response. Not every problem in a conversation needs to be fixed or addressed: the main point is to organize thoughts, express frustrations or feelings, and generally be understood.
So if you think you can talk a problem with a woman’s view of feminism that you find faulty without mansplaining…it’s not gonna happen. You’re inherently trying to fix a problem and that’s the ultimate downfall. Listen for content rather than to respond and fix, have an open conversation that isn’t geared towards adjusting someone’s viewpoint. Annnnnd maybe…
But when in doubt…don’t.
“Is any woman going to be the be-all-end-all knower of feminism? Like why take that on as a thing dude. Why are you qualified?”
This is the perfect time for that JT .gif but even still. The answer is no. No one knows everything. This is all my very limited opinion filtered through some humor and some images and that’s it, bro. That’s all I have to qualify myself. All you need to actually do something about anything is a passionate drive for that subject and the ability to see it through. It’s the same way athletes do their sportsing. Is the QB the be-all-end-all of football? (I don’t really know, seems like he’s real important but I honestly have no idea why he seems that way other than the fact that I actually know that’s a position on the team…)
Is Bill Nye the be-all-end-all of science?
Is Stephen King the be-all-end-all of horror fiction?
Is the President the be-all-end-all of politics? Ahahahahahhkillmeahahahahahahaha god forbid.
In most of these instances, (hah) these people know a lot of shit about what they do. They can get by without people questioning them and they seem real legit for doing so. But there’s no way to know everything, to be the perfect savant of any given subject or discipline. To think that’s a possibility vastly limits your scope, and your ability to keep learning about what gives you passion.
I think as people we have to keep growing and trying to understand what we love. And I’m very motivated about feminism, but I’m surely not perfect in regards to practicing what I preach. I can be sexist and problematic. That’s the human condition. As long as we try to learn and try to get better, that’s really all that matters. Feminism breaks down when ignorance decides there’s no more to learn, that every feminist is the same, that every definition is the same.