The Loaded Question

In Anecdotes on October 1, 2010 at 3:59 am

I guess I can call this a Martyn reaction, though it was more a knowledge based misconception than ignorance.  It all began during a dinner with friends the other night, along with some of Martyn’s friends, which led me to make the remark: “I feel as though I’m surrounded by very traditionalist men.” Which I was.  All great guys but conservative in their thinking.

This caused one of the guys to lean over from his seat and ask me whether that was a good thing or a bad thing. “I see traditionalist as protecting women,” he responded. “Is that good?”

To this response my friend Emily and I exchanged amused looks that at the same time signified we were holding back our thoughts. This guy seemed absolutely adorable and the kind of ‘nice’ guy who has really good intentions but is a little narrow minded in his thinking.  I don’t know exactly what Emily was thinking when he said this, but in my mind I was asking: “What exactly are you protecting us from and how far does this go?”

“Can you draw the line between protection and control or are there grey areas?”

“Do you decide what’s best for us, and what we, women, need to be protected from? Sort of like a parent-child relationship?” Of course there is nothing wrong with standing up for someone who’s in a difficult or dangerous situation, but that’s entirely different from the idea that men need to ‘protect’ women. 

The dinner continued amicably and then for some reason, I’m not sure what I said, but this same guy leaned over again: “So are you like a feminist or something?” he asked.  All three of us girls laughed genially.  “Yeah, I would say so,” I said, “I think that women should have equal rights as men.”

The dispute came about because he did not believe feminism to mean equality.  He said he studied feminism and that the idea has changed over time and that now it meant that women thought or wanted to be better than men.  Yes, the movement of feminism has changed, but the idea that feminists want to be treated better than men is a misconception Emily and I argued.  Perhaps this misconception has come about because of some women, or men who view the equality of women as somehow too ambitious.  Just because the misconception exists I said, doesn’t make it true.  He decided to say we agreed on the idea – equality – but disagreed on the term – feminism. 

We didn’t discuss it further, but I still don’t know what I said to make him specifically ask if I was feminist.  I speak my mind I guess, is that a sign of thinking I’m superior to men?


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