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So, I shared a little bit about my relationship with this guy, let’s call him Y, in my last post, and every now and then we have these mind-numbing fights on patriarchy. Now, Y is someone who has never really heard of feminism or gender rights and he’s grown up with relatively conservative notions of patriarchy and gender norms.. He’s seen incredibly strong women around him, but the jargon I use every day is completely new for him. For example, we had a detailed conversation about what words like ‘feminism’ and ‘patriarchy’ actually mean.
I like living in my feminist bubble and a lot of people that I engage with outside of my feminist/socialist/atheist circles, know very little of what I do and what I believe in. And these are usually conversations I thoroughly enjoy. But when you’re dating someone, it’s so much harder to have these conversations on a regular basis.
I have my anger outbursts quite often and so does he. There have been days when I question myself and whether I’ve become an unyielding, irate feminist. There have been days when he’s questioned himself and whether he’s a despicable misogynist.
Sometimes, as feminists, and more generally as secular liberals, we tend to think we’re always in the right. (And, we usually are.) But, when did I (we?) become so rigid? Is it that hard to hear another person’s point of view? Should the entire world become liberal because I think it’s the right way to live?
I was born with this need to ensure justice around me. To see things being done fairly. But I’ve learnt so much from the people around me. I had no idea what patriarchy or kyriarchy or feminism even meant ten years ago. Now, the experiences I’ve had and the people I’ve met, they’ve significantly changed my thinking and beliefs. And these beliefs continue to change every single day.
One of the core feminist arguments, especially with regard to gender-based violence, is about changing mind-sets and beliefs. Challenging that ingrained sense of entitlement on women. But how do you change mindsets without engaging with people? Without understanding where they come from and what they feel?
I really like Y and I think one of the best things about him is that he’s open to new ideas. Every time I talk to him or have an argument, I begin to realize how obdurate I’ve become. I’m become so averse to sexism in all its forms and I find it hard to even listen to his side of the story, even when it isn’t based on patriarchy.
Y’s not a feminist. He’s a kind, considerate human being who respects everyone around him. He’s willing to listen. He hears me out when I have an issue with something. He tries to understand why I feel the way I do. He tries to share why he feels the way he does. And if his actions or words hurt me, he tries his best to not hurt me again. It’s never a black and white but quite a few shades of grey.
To answer the moot point, I think the only way to date a non-feminist (or anyone for that matter), is to keep an open mind and an open heart. If you’re willing to talk and share and, most importantly, listen, labels and identities will never stop you from building a strong, healthy relationship.
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