Archive | February, 2011

Feminist Friends

10 Feb

Feminism, and a whole lot of other -isms which are very much related, is such a huge part of the fabric of my life that I am shocked whenever I discover that my meatworld friends aren’t feminists. Or, worse haven’t ever thought about feminism in any real way.

Example: While milling around in the fluorescent aftermath of a party, my friend related to me a story of her boss, tearing up after a rough meeting. Her story concluded with this gem: “I don’t consider myself a feminist or anything but it kind of bothers me when women cry at work.”

Wait, what?

Let me explain. I have friends from all stripes of political, religious, and -ism beliefs, and I like it that way. So when a conservative Christian tells me she is not a feminist, I am not surprised. But, when the sort of college-educated secular humanist vegetarian sometime-lesbians that attend my parties drop “I’m not a feminist” bombs, I’m rendered temporarily speechless.

Let’s parse her sentence, shall we? “I don’t consider myself a feminist or anything but it kind of bothers me when women cry at work.” Firstly, she spat the word feminist out as if it were a bug she found in the evening’s sangria. Secondly, the two clauses, “I don’t consider myself a feminist,” and “it bothers me when women cry at work,” don’t really need the connector “but,” since, well, they’re not mutually exclusive. Wouldn’t it make sense that a non-feminist would dislike watching a woman cry? I suspect she meant her audience to take the desire for women to stop their sniveling already as a feminist trait.

That said, I take a lot of comfort in the idea that female friendship can be, in and of itself, a feminist act. Even though I am friends with many women who don’t share my views about reproductive rights or the insidiousness with which patriarchy is chipping away at the fabric of human life, they’re still there to support me when I need them, and vice versa. They don’t know it, but just by being strong women willing and able to provide loyalty and support at other womens’ times of need, they are furthering the feminist cause.

But is it enough? Do you often find yourselves in this situation, tender readers? Do you consider female friendship (of the truly supportive, not-seen-on-TV variety) a notch on the feminist spectrum, or not? And why?

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