My husband and I were married in July, after five years of dating, and any outsider looking in would say that we knew each other pretty well. He knew I loved watching the news and reading business books. He also knew (a little) that I was becoming more passionate about feminism and women’s rights due to growing within a company that embraced women in the workplace. Boy – was he in for a journey.
As a conservative Millennial, I’ve never been immersed in places where feminism was not only talked about, but talked about in a positive light. Honestly, after 25 years of living, I really didn’t know much about feminism. So, here I am, working in an atmosphere that embraces the beauty of diversity and women in the workplace. It was there that I joined a go-girl book club and met so many beautiful and different women. Through our differences, I’ve grown personally and honestly, I’ve grown as a woman.
I thought feminism was a bad word. I thought it meant “free the nipple” and hating men. I thought that if you were a feminist, you had to agree with abortions and have a larger-than-life personality that shamed the “white-male.” I soon saw feminism is not that…AT ALL. Calling yourself a feminist is one of the most beautiful compliments I could ever carry. Here’s the most beautiful thing about being a feminist: it has so many personal meanings. For me, part of being a feminist means that I stand for equal rights in the workplace. It also means that I stand with my sisters in the fact that we shouldn’t be degraded just because we have certain body parts that others don’t have.
So here I am, months into my marriage and my husband is learning just as much as I am about feminism. Here’s the thing: learning just doesn’t happen. At our dinner table, we’re constantly talking about issues that are happening around us and that I believe, as a woman, he should know about.
The biggest issue in today’s society is that people don’t know or even care about issues because they’ve never experienced those pain points. My husband, clearly, has never been cat-called and if he has – I suppose more power to that alpha female? Seriously, though, he’s never been subjected because of the two lumps on his chest or been discriminated at work because of a low cut top. It’s not fair and it’s our jobs, as the ones being affected by these harsh acts, to talk about these situations so that our husbands and even friends can encompass compassion.
So, how do we get there? Easy:
He won’t understand if he doesn’t know. For me, I’ve had to bring up real-life situations that have happened to me for him to realize that sexual assault and discrimination aren’t only in television shows. When you actually put a personalization to an intense story – people start to realize that it can happen to ANYONE. It’s not going to be easy and it’s going to be raw. It may even feel like you’re ripping a bandaid off, but it’s time. It’s time to stand-up and speak-out. We deserve the voice and so, yeah, it may stink to relive that awful moment, but our loved ones love us and they need to know.
It’s one thing to be passionate about something, but when you need others to be passionate too – sometimes you need to provide hard facts that will get through. When you talk about how working women are only paid 80% to their male’s salary, that starts speaking volumes. Statistics telling that every 98 seconds an American is sexually assaulted is intense. It’s raw mental pictures that you provide that start to creep into minds and spark interest that things are actually happening around us.
Be Available & Patient
There are going to be a lot of questions and maybe even some backlash. Sometimes you just have to let them bask in the denial. Like stated above, people don’t know because they’ve personally never gone through anything of that nature. You can only lead a horse to water. Be available for questions and be patient to their thought processes. Some deny the beauty of feminism and so it’s your job to show the person you love how you see feminism. For me, it’s showing a graceful and conservative side of feminism. It’s calmly talking about what I’m passionate about and how that would fit into his worldviews too. I let him know I’m learning too and together, we can learn even more.
We need more men on our team, as we female activists cannot do this alone. We need our male cheerleaders to come beside us, cheer us on, and advocate for us. Our significant others need to know. They need to be educated and they need to informed. We need more conversations and once those start – we can start seeing change.