Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Be Careful What You Ask For

It is a common predicament of mine to be asked, "Why are you a feminist?"

Yes, I said "predicament". No one gets asked why they are female/male, why they breathe, why they brush their teeth, or why they want (and expect) to be treated justly. So it's a predicament because it's a loaded question. No one I've met ever really asks me just because they want to hear my answer. Mostly they already have a retort lined up and are asking the question as a launching pad to hammer me with their own opinion. I suppose it's human nature though. So many of us ask questions not because we seek the truth but because we have an answer of our own that is more important to us than what anyone else has to say.

I dream of a day when people ask questions because they honestly want to stop, listen, and appreciate a good answer.

There used to be a time when I looked forward to being asked this question. I saw it as my opportunity to enlighten people. I saw it as a doorway in which I could open their minds in a way in which I was an invited guest, rather than forcing my ideals and objectives on others; however, I now know better.

"Why are you a feminist?" is a question that does not fill me with hope that my dream will one day come true. Because, truly, most people are not prepared for the answer (whether they really wanted to know, or because they didn't realize the magnitude of what they were asking, or because they're too focused on their own motive to conscientiously listen to my response). Asking, "Why are you a feminist?" is a little like asking, "Why do we exist?"; it's difficult to deliver a short and concise answer that will fit into the typical human attention span. And it's usually conjoined with questions to the effect of, "Why do we still need the feminist movement?"

People ask, thoughtlessly, without realizing what they're asking for. So when my answer passes the three-minute mark, and eyes start glazing over, I become (to their way of thinking) the fanatic ranter, the hysterical femi-nazi.

Thus, I want to burn several CDs of this presentation and just keep oodles of them on hand for random "Why are you a feminist?" encounters. I'll hand people the CD and ask them to watch this presentation at a time that is convenient to them, and they shall have all the answers they require:

Then again, who am I kidding? No one will ever give this presentation a chance as long as re-runs of Jersey Shore are still being aired on cable TV.

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