What It's Like Talking About Feminism

Trying to explain to an adult man the "inner workings" of what feminism is verses telling a young boy lets you know all you need to know about men and how they mature. For some reason, feminism has become this huge radical movement that has polarized even the women who call themselves feminists. Of course, there are extremists in every subject who divide a group because they value different aspects of the whole idea, but when telling men or boys you are a feminist, it's like a switch goes off and they either respond with jokes, ask if you are serious, brush it off, or in the special case, say they're feminists too.

In my ripe age of 20, I've realized those are the types of guys I encounter when I say I am a feminist. Rarely is it someone of the male species that agrees with me, but even when they do, it usually comes with limitations. It's not that they actually believe in the feminist movement; it is more like they've seen men get praised for simply saying they are feminists on social media, so they assume the rules are the same in real life. Say you are a feminist and women will flock. The thing is, they usually know equal pay is important, but if you even suggest that a woman can do the job of a man, it's like, "Well, that's not exactly true. Women are definitely scientifically weaker," which is awkward because I'll then name exceptional women athletes or whatever the subject is, and the guy will retaliate with a "That's different." I really don't know what it is, are men just uncomfortable with the idea that if a women really wanted to, there are no limits to what she can achieve? 

Feminist activist holding sign

I feel like explaining feminism to a young boy would be easier than explaining it to the men of today. Feminism is not rocket science, so it should be something openly spoken about, with our youth especially. Women have been fighting for years to be seen and heard, black women, especially. In fact, if you'll allow me to go on a tangent, being a black feminist can be a little difficult as the relationship between black women and white women is so confusing (ish). To be a black woman is to come with a different set of values than the average white woman may have. That is not to say that I think the wedge between the two races should stay there, it just is what it is.

Black and colored women have more to deal with in our society and go through more than the average white women because not only is our gender in the mix of things to discriminate against, our skin color is another. We also have to work twice as hard to be of value in our society. Being "average" is not an option for people of color, let alone women of color. The double or triple consciousness we are dealing with on a daily basis sometimes makes it hard for us to relate to our white friends, and really all that's needed to mend that relationship is to have a respectful conversation. Not a conversation about whose trauma runs deeper or why certain people can say certain things and others can't. A conversation about acceptance and one that is had with humility and appreciation from our white counterparts because let's be honest, the people of color have already been through it all.

Whether the conversation about feminism is being had between two women, a man and a woman, or really anyone for that matter, there needs to be more talking, period. People are not going to understand something they choose not to explore. And I shouldn't have to explain why feminism should be important to you simply because there are women in your personal life who are going through the same things as other women either.