As we come close to the end of Women’s History Month, it’s important to stay as fervent as we were during the Women’s March or International Women’s Day. The social movement for women’s rights has taken a front seat in the last couple years, and has been put in full throttle post-election. We understand that not every day will mean street-closing protests or even vacating your cubicle for the day to make a statement, but staying proactive can be something as small as engaging in a conversation. Note: I did not say simple because as most of us would like to hope that all people believe in equality for men and women, it sometimes isn’t always the case. With the growing support of women’s equality also comes skepticism, which is nothing new. Feminism has been a feared “f-word” for ages and we’ve all encountered this situation, “Oh I’m not a feminist. I think men and women are equal.” Conversations such as these can leave you feeling like…
But there’s a 99% chance that your snarky response isn’t going to be an effective way of getting that person to see eye-to-eye with you.
If you’d like to make your case, here are a few arguments or points of conversation that you can lead with:
- Debunk the tired stereotype
It’s cliché to classify feminists as anti-girly, man-hating women who have no personal hygiene. I do shave my legs, I buy shoes that are ridiculously painful because I like the aesthetic, and I can reassure you that I don’t look for opportunities to yell at men. Feminism is an inclusive movement despite your age, ethnicity, gender, or preference in impractical footwear or not. Feminism isn’t exclusive to affluent young women. It’s for anyone who believes in equality in opportunity. Although many celebrity figures that have openly taken their stance on feminism do fall into that category, there are plenty of others who don’t. To name a few: Mark Ruffalo, Josh Hutcherson, Daniel Craig, John Legend, Azis Ansari, Joseph Gordon-Levitt (A group of feminists who also may be the most attractive collection of men in Hollywood.)
- Ask them about equal rights
Go ahead and ask them,“Do you believe men and women should have equal rights?” this really should be the proverbial mic drop of the conversation. Oftentimes, people don’t identify with being a feminist, but do believe in equality. The stigma behind being labeled a feminist for some can leave them wanting to identify with something else. Hence, why debunking the archaic stereotype above is also important.
What not to do:
- Get Angry
With the wage gap, scrutiny for wanting to take time off work post-pregnancy, sexual harassment at work on the streets, it’s kind of difficult to not feel discouraged or be angered about the standards women have to deal with. However, before you decide to pull a Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson piledriver on the person you are talking with, take a deep breath. Know that anger and condescension are not ways to win a debate. Moreover, this isn’t about winning. It’s about trying to debunk any misconceptions.
- Shut Out Their Side
The whole reason why holidays such as International Women’s Day are important is to spark a conversation. As pleasant as it is to talk with people who share the same ideals as you do, it’s not really teaching you anything. It’s also keeping us in a bubble. These types of conversations should not be lectures, but ways for us to understand all points of view and perspectives.
And after all of this and the person you are talking with still refuses to identify with feminism, that is their choice at the end of the day. You should respect their decision to not be a feminist as much as you’d want respect from them. Having the conversation is vital to any change. Will the “Fearless Girl,” statue on Wall Street make any change? The answer is no. But it’s a good starting point for conversations – conversations that we shouldn’t shy away from because we are afraid of confrontation. Be strong. Be proud to be a feminist.