Artist Unknown

Around the time of Women’s Day or some celebration like that, I was discussing feminism with Josephine, a friend I’ve always thought wise. I consider myself a feminist, as I believe both sexes should have the same rights legally and the same standing and opportunities and freedom socially and culturally and economically. My friend believes that feminists want to take power away from men, put men down, blame and emasculate them.

I thought that attitude came from simple ignorance of the literal definition of feminism, and from the unwarranted reputation feminists have of being radical, extremist, unwomanly and man-hating. These ideas about women who insist on equal rights have been put forth by those who have an interest in keeping women “in their place,” and it’s a clever strategy, isn’t it, because most women don’t want to be seen as any of those things, or of supporting such in any way.

But it was when my friend said that women who are feminist activists are those who aren’t willing to work for what they want, that they are likely sitting home on welfare or home all day, financially supported by men and with nothing better to do, that these women are the ones who have time to bitch and complain while the rest of us, including men, are busy making the world go round, that I sat back in shock. I said, “Did you just say that out loud?” and she was indignant at my response. I only wanted her to see things my way, she said, and she never, ever would, so there.

It was then that I got a clearer understanding of my friend’s deep disdain for women, and for me, and for herself. It was then that I realized a person can be wise in many ways, and remain fucked-up in others. This is when I stopped talking to her about this issue, because her self-hatred looms too large for me to wade through. I don’t know if she is aware of this in a conscious way or not, but my awareness of it now colours all my communications with her. Someday I may figure out how to tell her what I think in a kind manner, in a way that won’t hurt her, in a way that might be helpful to her, but right now I’m still recoiling a bit from her, as if her attitude toward women might hurt me as well as herself.