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How To Start A Narrative With A Feminist.

West Yorkshire, UK 21/11/2016
Unrelated picture of my christmas Pret, and hey, new skirt!
Today's post was hastily smashed out after seeing yet another unrelentingly abusive and stupid Twitter argument over feminism. I won't go into specifics because we've all seen them & they tend to follow the same basic pattern: woman speaks out on feminist issue, man replies with objection, they bicker and it all spirals into a big ball of insults, more than often ending in a sweet meme about how fat "feminazis" are. You know the drill. So I thought I'd share four handy 'do's and don't's' for people who genuinely want to start a conversation with a feminist (and don't just want to call them "fat", "lezzas", "soft puffs", etc) because some people just seem really confused. Poor loves.

DON'T start a sentence with "but not all men..." because OBVIOUSLY. Obviously, not all men do/say/treat/approach things in the same way as every other male in the world. OBVIOUSLY. So stop making any discussion about male violence about you. If it doesn't apply to you personally then, shocker: ITS NOT ABOUT YOU. It's more likely about toxic masculinity than a critique of specific men. I.e, not you. So instead, why don't you listen, make up your mind on the matter, and maybe think - "hm, yes, sexual harassment is a problem in the workplace. How can I use my privilege to help?" rather than taking it as a personal attack. 

DO approach people in a tactful manner. I.e. don't immediately tell them they're uneducated and brainwashed. It won't win you any favours. It's simple: if you go at someone aggressively, you will be met with aggression. It's just basic conversational linguistics. If you are patronising, or abusive, then naturally they'll go on the defense. All you'll get from that is an argument that NEITHER side will win because you aren't listening to each other - you're trying to one-up each other. Both parties might as well repeatedly smash their head against a brick wall because it's accomplishing the same result.

DON'T say things like 'but men get raped too'. It will guarantee an eye roll. Feminists know that men get raped, but it's a separate narrative. Of course it has a place in the feminist narrative but if we're talking about, say, domestic abuse of women, you can't really undermine that conversation by "reminding" us that men are abused too. It's a separate debate with entirely different issues and it deserves to examined and discussed as such. You can't lump domestic abuse of both sexes under the same umbrella because the intricacies are often very different. The amount of times my dialogue has been interrupted with a 'but men...' is ridiculous and then when I've said "that's not what I'm talking about", I'm shut down as sexist. NO. THEY ARE SEPARATE, IMPORTANT ISSUES THAT DESERVE THEIR OWN DISCUSSION.

DO have an open mind. There is no unanimous, set in stone scripture with a definitive truth about every aspect of feminism. Lot's of people have different opinions about different topics and we are all constantly learning. Nobody has a perfect knowledge about anything, but especially about something as ever-changing as the feminist movement. Maybe in the past, you've seen a feminist who's viewpoints you've disagreed with and that's completely put you at odds with feminism. Fine. But that doesn't mean you should wage Twitter war with every other feminist in the world. I mean, if you start conversation purely with the intention of shutting the feminist narrative down then really, what is the point? You won't learn anything new with that attitude. It's better to approach things with openness and willingness. Maybe it'll be educational, maybe you'll think it's a crock of shit. But even if you still stand by your opinion, at least gave it a chance. If you still vehemently despise the feminist movement then, fine, that's your prerogative. Just don't be an arse about it, ok?

What have your experiences of feminist conversations been like? Would you have any do's and don't of your own?

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