I decided recently not to keep my ideas about equality for all women only to sympathetic and comfortably political audiences because it felt as if I was old enough now to own up to my opinions. I also decided to go all out with the F Word because I didn’t want to have to fight through layers of political correctness or degrees of political engagement in my audience – I was either in or I was out – and I had to declare it. I have found that declaring for a clear line of politics and communication has focussed my frustration with inequality to a productive degree.
The most interesting manifestation of this focus is that I now genuinely attract people in a crowd to talk to me about feminism. On one of the first F Word Fridays I was at the theatre with a friend and two strangers struck up a conversation with me and their only topic was feminism. The first interlocutor was making a point about sexism that was easily prompted by the play we were watching, and I did enjoy meeting a man more unforgiving of sexism than I was – you should always have people ahead of you in politics.
The second person who talked to me that night was the mother of the Director and from the moment she opened the conversation with feminism I could tell that I was standing in front of a woman who had walked the walk. I know I had to use the F Word every time I talk because I am a baby in politics and feminism and I need to ensure that people will pull me up on my opinions so as to develop them. But this woman didn’t have to ever use the F Word, because she lived it and spoke it and her personal embodiment of it was so natural and strong I felt I was swimming in the ocean of experience, not paddling in the stream of theory.
I am looking forward to the day when I have had to apply feminism so practically to my life I no longer have to use the F Word because I will be living it. And I am looking forward to the day I no longer feel like bathing after I have encountered the other type of people who are now compelled to speak politics with me – the Entitled Street Harasser Misogynist/Homophobe/Racist Asshat type.
A friend and I were at a very civilised neighbourhood bar tonight and we were talked at by a tipsy middle-aged man who observed us holding The Second Sex and decided he wanted in on the conversation, twice. The first time he imposed himself on us he claimed:
1. To have read de Beauvoir
2. To have read lots of Feminist Literature
3. To think that what happened to Julia Gillard was abhorrent
We listened politely, smiled and nodded. We did not give him a medal for the Gillard commentary, despite the way he seemed to think the sentiment would get our sympathy. He left and we went on with our dinner and conversation.
The second time *sigh* he talked at us we were in the middle of a really quite important conversation and I tried to be respectful after he opened with Gillard and Feminist Literature. Again. I asked him what I could read that would talk about being a man, what book had inspired him, what he would recommend.
I was bemused when this man told me that he was so good at life he didn’t need to learn stuff from books. I rather naively felt sorry for him, so confident was he that he was right, and I wished he had been able to give me the name of a book, any book, so I could catch a glimpse of the other side of the argument. Then he went full Asshat:
1. He asked me directly if I was gay because I didn’t want children
2. He asked my friend directly if she was gay
3. He tried to make some theory of Feminism and attractiveness – I think, it wasn’t quite clear
4. He leant on my shoulder and claimed his hip had given out, causing him to loom over me, touch me without permission and hover his rather substantial stomach in my face
Luckily he wandered off of his own accord and, I hope, because we so carefully and quietly did not give a flying fuck about his opinion on our lives or the books we had with us. But it does still amaze me, his Entitled Homophobic Misogynist Street Harassment and Asshattery.
All because of two girls and a book in a public place - there is truly nothing more disconcerting for an Asshat than two girls and a book in public.