While everyone’s still talking about resolutions
Generally, I don’t make new year’s resolutions because I tend to make my resolutions as they come to me, not at some socially arbitrated time. Still, I’ve been thinking about things that I think feminists as a whole can do to improve our own social interactions. In order to do that, I looked back on the year and even the year before that to see what worked and what didn’t, as is the standard practice.
When I think about the things that I did right last year, the few of them that there are, I mostly think about my relationship with my booberry. Yep, that’s my sickening way of talking about my boyfriend. He still seems to consider himself a feminist in training, although I think he’s a total senior when it comes to Pro-Feminist Male Finishing School (they should so totally actually make that). He’s told me before that he thinks I’ve taught him a lot during the almost year and a half that we’ve been together, and I started thinking about why that might be.
As most people do, I tell my boyfriend everything. Like, even about that time I puked in front of EVERYBODY at the end-of-the-year eighth grade dance (SO mortifying). Whenever I tell him something, if I’ve made the type of personal-is-political feminist connection, I tell him. When I tell him about all the times I got (and still get) weirded out getting cat-called while getting gas (or checking the mail, or picking up my dog’s poop, or, you know, being in public), it never comes free from subsequent analysis (. . .bitching. . .) about how dudes only do that kind of shit to make sure I know I’m part of the sex class 24/7.
It’s personal experience mixed with consciousness and rhetoric.
Now, this boy has got a leg up on most dudes in the first place since he seems to come pre-loaded with a propensity to reject the patriarchal notion that women aren’t to be listened to. Still, I think that when women are absolutely frank with men about their personal experiences, it can help men to understand how pervasive these experiences are – and how much of an impact it actually has on the women they care about.
I’m probably not saying anything particularly revolutionary here. Feminists have long touted the effectiveness of personal testimony in creating and nurturing change. I just think that I’m seeing the effect of that kind of transformative interaction more than ever – especially in this relationship.
There has been a lot of writing done lately regarding what is and is not acceptable for male allies (especially in relation to #mooreandme), and one of the points that stuck most with me was the notion that the LAST thing a male ally should do is stop listening or just refuse to listen in the first place. That being said, I think that the most important thing that feminists can do is keep talking.
As much as I sometimes want to stop feministing and just talk about things, I think it’s important for feminists in heterosexual relationships to talk to their significant others about feminist issues 0 and keep it personal. Make it an aspect of the personal discussions, inject it right into the heart of your interactions.
There have been too many times that I’ve made compromises on my feminist perspective to create a path for a relationship or for the dude I’m with’s comfort level. I don’t think either of us left that relationship the better for it, actually, so if I see feminist women compromising their values in relationships, it worries me, and I think it perpetuates the backseat that we sometimes take when otherwise liberal men start becoming defensive about women holding them accountable or expecting better from them when it comes to gender justice.
But I dunno. I don’t think this is a resolution per se, I more think that this is something I’ve noticed as valuable and would like to see continue to and spread even more, because I don’t want to see something like #mooreandme or any of the other disturbing displays of liberal male ineptitude when it comes to feminism that I’ve seen recently.
So dudes, keep listening, and gals, keep talking. That’s all I can really hope for this year, I guess. Well, that and for a complete feminist upheaval of patriarchy, but you gotta keep a balance, right?