Feminism or bust
October 30, 2012 10:50 PM Subscribe
Boyfriend is not a feminist. I am. We don't see things eye to eye and we have long disagreements about it. Is this healthy?
My boyfriend and I are in a relationship dynamic that I find very toxic. At the same time, it's somewhat ubiquitous, and at least we're discussing it.
I have more feminist beliefs than he does. I see these as important personally, professionally, at the level of the family, and at the level of micro-interactions in society. Because of being really interested in women, I have done extensive research on topics like rape and domestic violence.
My boyfriend's world is totally different. Sometimes when we discuss them for like 2 hours, he can roughly understand by analogy what I'm talking about when I say rape jokes aren't funny, or that a portrayal of women in the media is "hostile." But for the most part, he thinks I'm reading into everyday life dynamics that aren't there.
A typical example of how we would disagree would be:
-We're talking about Richard Pryor (within 5 minutes of waking up Saturday morning). He says, "there was this one fan of Richard Pryor he got involved with and she got so angry one time, he thought she was going to beat her up and so he beat her up instead. That's so ironic."
Me: (skeptical) Why would a fan beat him up?
He: I dunno, I mean maybe she was crazy. Anyhow it was fine because he got out of jail.
Me: ... That's fine from his perspective but not from the fan's.
He: Well I guess I'm more open minded because to me the story would be exactly the same if the fan were a man. I don't think there's a difference between male/male and male/female violence.
Me: I just don't like the story.
He: Why? But that doesn't make any sense!!
We also talk often about sexual assault, especially topics like Tosh.O's recent rape jokes and about the topic of whether "feminism" is an extreme or a moderate position. I'm often in a position of defending my beliefs.
In addition, when we talk about gender in art, he is sometimes sympathetic. But he says things like novels about relationships (like most of the novels I read) are not "objective" enough to be true art. We then begin a 2 hour conversation about what objectivity means. I find this frustrating. I would rather be talking about novels by women specifically and the themes in them than talking about women as a category but he just lacks this specialized knowledge.
From an intellectual point of view it's frustrating to me because I feel like there is a lot of what I value that I simply have to explain to him. And maybe I'm jealous because ultimately, his point of view is much more "moderate" than mine. I come off looking like a malcontent just for stating my opinion a lot of the time.
We continue these conversations because basically once they get started, they go to a very deep place very quickly, and a point at which we both find it very very difficult to step away. But there is some doubt to me about whether they are constructive or just deeply toxic. I have told him just not to bring up topics relating to gender, especially gendered violence anymore.
Is this a toxic discussion, or one that is worth having between men and women in a relationship?