Be a 24/7 Feminist
“Oh here we go on your FEMINIST b—...”
I interrupted him before he could say “bullshit”. I had just offered to introduce the man I was dating to a former boss of mine who could have helped him make a few strong business connections. His response? He asked why I had my boss’ number.
“Uhm, because I worked for him? And I needed to contact him if I was going to be late for a shift?”
To which he replied, “Did you sleep with him?”
How this was related, I’ll never know. And no, I didn’t sleep with my boss. I quickly railed into him how insecure, sexist, and disrespectful he was, which prompted, “Oh here we go on your FEMINIST b—...”
* * *
Want to know a secret? I love that he said those words to me because what interrupted him was my laughter—and nothing makes misogynists angry like a woman laughing at them.
Sure, I had been a capital “F” Feminist for a while at this point and this person knew that. He knew I had written several papers on the myriad waves and icons of this movement. He knew I had traveled across state lines to see—and speak to!—Gloria Steinem (best day). And he knew who I voted for in the 2016 presidential election.
But he must not have known that I am a 24/7 feminist. That’s right, folks, you get the whole shebang with me. I talk the talk and walk the walk.
What does this mean? It means I do more than pin aesthetically-pleasing photos of female empowerment quotes (but I do a lot of that as well, over here on my Pinterest board). Sure, I might rock a cute feminist slogan tee, but you can bet your 78 cents on the dollar that I am working constantly to create a society where those shirts are relics. It means I choose to hold onto my beliefs and not onto a person.
That conversation with my ex was a wake up call for me. In my daily conversations, I began paying close attention to the way I spoke and the ways I allowed others to speak to me. I proudly joined millions of others in the resistance marches. I was no longer just sharing and reposting; I was doing.
If you feel like you’re in the same place—wanting to take your online feminism into the real world—start by listening.
Is your friend making a sexist joke? Is your boss infantilizing you just because you’re a young woman in the workplace? Is your boyfriend making asinine remarks about your platonic relationship with a superior?
Then do something about it.
Don’t laugh along. Don’t stay silent. If you are comfortable with confronting this person, then you’ll definitely regret not saying anything when you had the chance. Find the best way to approach him/her/them (understand that it may be in the moment or at a later date). Gauge your environment, then let them know what that comment implies and how that language is unacceptable.
And take care of yourself.
You won’t always know what to say or do when confronted with sexism, especially when it comes from someone you know personally. I had brushed off my ex’s earlier sexist remarks, thinking that he would one day “get it” on his own and stop (pro tip: they never do). When I finally realized that was never going to happen, I stood by my beliefs instead of him. Be honest with yourself about when a person or group is too toxic for you and know when to step away.
Today, I’m in the healthiest relationship with someone who listens to me talk about feminism until I’m blue in the face (to be fair, he does the same thing with politics so we’re a good match.) I seek out and support women-owned businesses. I write at least once a month about feminism here on My Pink Docs. I’m by no means perfect, but I’m working to balance my activism between the world online and IRL.
What are your favorite ways to be a 24/7 feminist? I’d love to hear in the comments below!
To be fair, I need to acknowledge my privilege in this situation. I am a white, middle-class, able-bodied woman who was not in a physically abusive relationship. This conversation took place over the phone and I did not feel like I was in danger for speaking my mind. I fully recognize that is not the case for many women. If you or someone you love is in an abusive relationship, please use this resource to find help near you.