The next time a man I barely know sits at the dinner table in my mother’s house and jokes derisively that he has a feminism filter on his web browser, it will be a miracle if I don’t kick him in the dick.
‘What kind of magazine?’ he asked me in mock confusion, having heard exactly what I had said.
‘A feminist web zine’ I said. Again. ‘It’s called The Hairpin.’
‘Oh, well I don’t know about that. Will I even be able to access that?’
Then he chuckled contentedly at his funny, funny joke.
We had been discussing, of all things, how to remove water stains from wooden surfaces. My housemate had supplied the answer, sourced (as is all excellent cleaning advice) from ‘Ask a Clean Person’, a long-running column on cheerfully feminist web zine, The Hairpin.
Aside from myself, sitting at the table were my two housemates, my mother, her friend and the aforementioned man. Mum’s friend and this guy were also having an on again off again affair.
My mentioning the word feminism, even in this incredibly casual and tangential context was enough to stop his speech, widen his eyes and produce the mock-shocked ejaculation described above.
Not wanting to be impolite to my mother’s guests, I refrained from the full verbal shanking that I might otherwise have delivered. I was actually still pretty rude, earning myself a subtle ‘stop that Rebecca’ look from my mother, but true to form, this man’s blind arrogance allowed him to completely miss my not-even-remotely-veiled snark.
If I had been subtitled on that evening (for the benefit of the hearing impaired and also the profoundly bigoted), they might have read something like this:
How can you, an (apparently) intelligent and educated man sit comfortably as the only be-testicled guest in a room full of women and so casually and arrogantly deride feminism? Even with the excuse of ignorance that your generation so frequently employs, how can you suggest that Feminism is one big terrible, embarrassing, radical faux pas?
You are sitting at a table with a woman who raised two kids single-handedly. I’m one of them. Without feminism, she would not have been able, or even ALLOWED to do that. She would have been shunned and stigmatised for even wanting to leaver her husband. We might have been taken away and raised by a properly married couple.
You have two daughters. Do you know why they have jobs? Because feminism. Do you know why they could leave their husbands if their husbands hit them? Feminism. Do you know why the police would arrest their husbands if they accused them of domestic violence instead of refusing to become involved in ‘people’s private business’? Feminism.
Do you why they were able to attend university? Feminism.
Do you know why you and your lover are able to have an affair without her facing ostracism, or even threat of death? Feminism.
Do you know why you get to use contraception and have a greatly reduced risk of contracting STIs and accidental children?
Do you know why my mum is allowed to own this property?
Do you know why women are allowed to own any property?
Do you know why we can drive, or even ride a bike?
Do you know why we can goddamn vote?
Do you know why your girlfriend is able to wear a stretchy dress and bare feet right now? Why I am able to wear pants? Why any of us can breathe and eat comfortably in our clothing? Why we can walk easily in our shoes? Why our feet, or even our genitals are not subject to ritual mutilation?
Why I could choose, of my own free will to not marry a bigoted, inconceivably arrogant airbag twice my age who condescends to tell me how ludicrous my ideas about basic human rights are?
Because Feminism. You fucking douche-canoe.