Feminism is a hot topic right now. While I could naively wish that I will one day see the end of the problems our friend Equality faces, of course I won’t. Therefore, I wish for the notion of supporting everyone in the world – wanting equal rights for all – to always be a hot topic. From discussing, debating and occasionally arguing over equality in all size, shapes and form, I’ve learnt a thing or two about how it might be best to channel our thoughts about such a topic.
Choose calm. I feel like this has taken me 21 years of debating to learn, but it is definitely true that being calm is essential for effective communication. And I only wholeheartedly tested this out a few weeks ago. My friend and I were discussing all things feminism and a few views of ours differed. In the past I have very obviously become a little too confrontational with this friend which is so contradictory to what I believe. Because if I believe everyone has to be involved in this important conversation, why risk alienating someone who has views I respect- and even views that are not far from mine at all? I soon realised my choice to stay calm was not a malicious tactic, it was helpful. I, in turn, felt more composed and able to fight feminism’s corner.
Ask questions. If we want the world to start hugging Equality, we need to ask questions. This takes shape in many different ways. Considering the friend I just spoke about, I asked him questions about how he felt and portrayed my views in the shape of a question too: “But do you not think it’s only a woman’s choice how they present themselves?” Alternatively, a discussion about feminism should welcome questions from the other participant. A few days ago a friend was asking me questions- some that can really rile feminists up. For example, “If it’s about equality, why is it called FEMinism?” Importantly, this friend wasn’t trying to be witty or nasty, he was interested. And what better way for them to find out than in an environment where he isn’t chastised for not having an answer he hasn’t thought about/been exposed to before.
Understand. Similar to both of the above, we are quick to judge views that don’t match our own. In staying calm and asking questions, I am able to understand my friends’ thoughts, anxieties and honesty. Whether I can then give them an opportunity to think differently or support their view I may not have understood before, feminism needs to be a body of people who can empathise and understand. Because isn’t that Equality’s best characteristic?
I’ve learnt a lot from going against my natural instinct to feel a bit red in the face and frustrated. From doing the above and more, it’s not just a fair discussion we achieve. Personally, I feel like my friend Equality and I are taken more seriously. We aren’t an angry movement, we are an open and honest one. In wanting to understand others who choose to be or could be our friend, we might just spark a bit of positivity. Whether that’s them choosing to spread information that emerged from a conversation or the discovery that they might just be a feminist too. If we want everyone to get involved, we need to encourage an environment where everyone is welcome.
Choose calm, inquisitive and understanding!
~ Kat ~