Even the most 'woke' of men can still have a lot to learn when it comes to feminism and equality. And that is ok, as long as they're committed to learning. Sometimes though, it's hard to express feminist ideas and theories with people who just don't get it, without getting frustrated by their lack of understanding. As long as they're receptive to these kinds of conversations and willing to hear about female experiences, it is possible to have these discussions.
"Many of us have experienced getting into a fight with someone while trying to explain feminist ideas or one of the million issues faced by women in the world each day," women's coach Kitty Waters says. "What came from a simple conversation about the gender pay gap or sexual harassment, can easily turn into a full blown fight if emotions are raw, but it doesn’t have to be this way." So how can you have these conversations without them ending up in an argument? Kitty explains.
1. Pick your moment
Like with the discussion of any contentious issues, be smart about timing: don’t start this conversation when your boyfriend has just walked through the door, or when he's stressed or anxious. If you are going to discuss a complex subject like feminism - a topic that takes time, communication and patience - it really does help that you are both in a good space. Wait for a better time when you feel he is ready to listen and hear what you are saying.
2. Be moving
Years ago I was taught by an ex-boss that the best way to discuss difficult things is if you are walking along with the person. The mere action of moving takes the confrontation out of the conversation. This technique really does work, so try it at home with a housemate or at work with an employee. It gives more space and positive stimulation to your conversation. If you can avoid doing this in a hectic scenario such as a busy street with lots of traffic, this might give a better sense of calm and focus to your talk. An added bonus is that being outside in public decreases the chances of you getting angry and shouting at each other.
3. It might take time
If things get contentious you don’t have to resolve it there and then. Get your ideas out on the table, then make sure the both of you go away and digest the ideas. Nine times out of 10, someone will see the other person’s point of view more once they've had time to take their views into consideration.
4. Don’t retaliate
If the conversation does get nasty, don’t retaliate. While it is easier said than done, this is still the best option to not say anything you’ll regret in the heat of the moment. If you get into a fight and someone says something that hurts, just say ‘Ouch, that hurt' rather than biting back. This way they will have to sit with what they've said and think hard about it.
5. Use back up
Stats and figures are a useful way to back up an argument. Factual language is hard to argue with. Make sure you demonstrate that you're not just stating your opinion on the subject, you're also citing facts that are backed up by studies, testimonies of authority, books and other materials therefore adding weight.
Or speak from experience. If you know this person and you have personal anecdotes of experiences that were unfair or upsetting, it might help to weave this in. If they care about you, they should care about how this issue has affected you personally.
Once you’ve opened his eyes to the issues you might just see him become more proactive in changing things. And if not, it might be time to consider whether this friendship/relationship/other is worth your time...