One Day I Will Rule the World

World Domination, Babies and Middle Eastern Dance

October 31, 2009

Cynical Feminist Does Not Trust Men

It’s feminism week at World Domination Headquarters!

I spent a bunch of time last weekend having in depth conversations with Ian about whether I should believe he’s trustworthy. I’ve been in relationships with guys before who changed a lot based on things I said about morality and right & wrong – but it turned out they didn’t change at all. They just learned how to follow some rules, and then their bad behaviour exploded sideways because of the pressure to not let me see them behave badly. He said he understood the concern. And he said that he thinks his is a more ingrained change – because he is aware of things being wrong when they aren’t things that I have pointed out. Because he listens to conversations around him, among the group of all men that he works with, and he contrasts it with his beliefs now.

Then, a couple days ago, I stood up to take my cardigan off and try on a piece of my Hallowe’en costume, and he said, “oh. jeez. I seem to recall that I used to punctuate every moment like that by shouting ‘take it off’.” His tone was rueful, and his eyebrows so knitted. “How were you ever able to resist that charm?” He asked.

I guess I didn’t expect anything better from men, I didn’t reply.

And I still wouldn’t expect better. Disqualifying a guy from the dating pool for flirting with remarks that say, “BE OBJECTIFIABLE AND HOT FOR ME ‘KAY?!” would disqualify every man who flirts at all.

That’s okay, we’ve been together for six years so he is securely enconfidenced in our relationship and so he neither needs to win me nor to indicate to me that I am objectifiably eligible for his attentions and he doesn’t make remarks like that because he doesn’t say anything about my appearance unless prompted by my demands. Oh, that and he’s enlightened now.

He does totally get points for not taking feminism personally and not taking it personally that I don’t trust him and not taking it personally that I point out how privileged he is. He understands that it would be ridiculous to expect him to answer for his privilege. And that, like me, all he can do is make consistent efforts to be more enlightened than he was yesterday.

I have taken pains to make sure Ian understands that when feminists talk about their husbands as “my Nigel,” it is not a shorthand for “my doofy-but-well-meaning husband who sometimes contravenes feminist principles but we forgive him because it’s just his doofy, well-meaning way,” it is a shorthand for, “no matter how well-meaning, no matter how enlightened, he is still the one with the privilege. And he still wields it occasionally, albeit unthinkingly. But unconsciously wielded privilege still oppresses someone. And yes, I am aware that just by being involved with him and unwittingly rewarding that privilege I am capitulating to the patriarchy in a big way.”

At least, that’s what it means for me.

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  1. Alison

     /  2009-11-01

    Your Aunt Mary told me once that she was seriously considering giving her thesis the title “Can A Feminist Live Happily With The Oppressor”.

  2. Haha. Oh god I wish I’d got to know her.


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