Maybe People are Okay

There are a few things that really get on my nerves:

  • When people are late
  • When people make me late
  • Harassment
  • When different foods touch each other on my plate
  • When people make jokes about feminism

Oh, I wish I had good comebacks for the things that people say.  I really do like the think that I’m witty.

I’m not.

So when someone makes fun of feminism, I just sit there and hate them.

I’m no stranger to feminism being looked down on.  It’s kind of discouraging, actually, how often I encounter sexism at school and at work.  It’s not unusual for me to hear someone talk about the so-called evils of feminism in a school where I am learning how to lead both men and women in the church.

This last week, a good friend of mine was on a roll with the feminism jokes: “I’m a feminist.  I have no problem with hitting women.”  “See, I don’t like feminism because then I can’t be chivalrous.”  “This is why I’m not a feminist: we guys don’t get as many bathroom stalls, so now I have to wait to use the washroom!”

And I sat there, and I got angrier and angrier.

I wanted to fight back.  I wanted him to understand how important feminism is to me, but I also wanted him to hurt like I was hurting.

But then I thought of Jesus’ instructions to love, and to turn the other cheek, and I didn’t want to.  God!  I said,  “Fight for me, because you said I shouldn’t fight for myself!  Defend my rights, because I can defend my own rights when I”m supposed to be willing to surrender them.  Fight for me!

Maybe what I meant was, Hurt him for me.  Make him feel guilty.

Maybe that’s why God didn’t agree to my suggestion.  Instead, God said, “Tell him.  Tell him that you are hurt.  Tell him how much this means to you.  Tell him how feminism means freedom from the abuse you experienced.  Tell him how rape culture has scarred women you care about.  Tell him about how feminism offers the hope that one day young ladies will be able to go for a run without worrying about catcalling or being followed by a group of guys.  Tell him that it matters to you.”

My hands shook as walked toward him after chapel.  I turned around twice, then resolved once again to go through with it.

Then I told him.  I told him about my family, about my friends, about me, and about how we all need feminism.  I told him that I couldn’t tell whether he actually believed what he joked about or not because way too may people do believe it.  I told him that I don’t want to tell him what to believe, but I do want him to understand how the jokes make me angry.

He listened.  He didn’t argue. “That totally makes sense,” he said.  He listened, and he apologized, and he stopped.

Maybe people are okay.

Maybe what is needed isn’t a fight, but a dialogue.  When both sides put down their swords and listen to each other, maybe things can start to change.


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