In the video below, Margaret Kammer of Everyday Feminism discusses how angry discourse can be off-putting when explaining feminist issues to people who don’t identify as feminist.
“She reflects on her own pre-feminism views and stresses the importance of remembering that a destructive belief does not define a person, nor does it eternally damn them as sexist.”
This is something I struggle with – I can get really annoyed with, and dismiss (if only mentally), people for sexist remarks even with the knowledge that I’ve probably made (or at least thought) similar things in the past.
Partly it’s because I hate to argue… I’ll just pause while everyone who knows me laughs at that… But I do. I enjoy debating, but I hate arguing. But I also know that sometimes that changes too – you can start off arguing and end up debating – and it comes from a place of mutual respect. Plus you have to remove defensiveness, which I also find hard. I have a couple of good friends who have played a big part in My Feminist Journey™ and I’m pretty sure when we first started discussing these issues I was a defensive, sarcastic brat (in fact, I know I was – I still have the emails) and they didn’t tell me to do one, so I should try really hard to be as gracious.
Also, I need to remember not everyone’s on the same page – why would they be? I think of the friends I mention above as being at least a few chapters ahead of me in The Big Book of Patriarchal Bullshit, so I need to be ok with some people being a few chapters behind. (The people who haven’t even picked it up yet though? I’m a bit baffled by them, I must admit. But, you know, everyone’s got to start somewhere.)
It’s tricky online, I know. I have a tendency to second-guess people’s comments and immediately start arguing with them in my head and I’m trying really hard to wait and see if I’m right before weighing in. Or to ask them for clarification. Sometimes it turns out I misunderstood. Other times, they genuinely don’t understand and are asking for an explanation. Sometimes, yes, they’re just being wankers and I can either choose to get into it with them or I can just step away. This is also hard for me, because I want every
argument discussion to end with the words, “You’re right, Keris.” I’m working on it, I promise.
Please do watch the video. It’s only four minutes and Kammer explains it all brilliantly.