Yes, I am comparing an equality movement to a gender-stereotypical teen film. Because a) irony and b) everything in life can relate to Mean Girls in one way or another. It’s like when politicians try to get young people to care about the general election by joining the grime scene. Feminism, like politics, scares some people, so I thought why not break it down into something a bit more millennially manageable.
Why Mean Girls? Because what happened to me the other day reminded me deeply of the famous Regina quote, but instead of fetch, it was feminism….
I was on a date and the conversation turned to paying the bill.
Him: “Don’t worry, I’ll get this, always the man’s job on the first date! *laughs*”
Me: “Oh, not for a feminist! I’ll get the next drink.” Now, in the past I tended not to bring up the fact that I’m a feminist on a date, but recently it just keeps happening. Like word vomit. It usually gets an enthusiastic, if not slightly patronising, ‘yeah, cool, girl power and all that’ which doesn’t really pass the ‘I’m actually passionate about this’ test but does wave my ‘ding, ding, ding, agreeing with this is a sure fire way into her pants’ flag. So I was shocked when…
Him: “Ah, you’re a hardcore feminist, are you?” Giggling and shaking his head at the heinous statement.
Me: “Well I wouldn’t say hardcore but yes. Who isn’t?”
Then he did something odd. He put down his drink, guffawed a strange heaving noise, and with his hands made a reeling-in motion, then shouted, “we have a live one!”. I sat there in shock.
Noticing the look of perplexed embarrassment emanating from my wide open gob he explained. Apparently it’s a thing him and his mates do when they wind up a feminist. Going out of their ways in pubs and at parties to find feminists, piss them off, and wind them in, laughing merrily at their completely ‘politically correct’ joke. Not only did he think this was an OK thing to do but a group, no, a network of boys did as well. I can only imagine their females friends and girlfriends rolling their eyes and tutting as the lads got on with their silly jests. After finding out more about his family, the way he spoke about women, and the fact that he’d gotten the reeling thing off his dad, I left, never to see him again. But it left me, and my female friends, seething. I just couldn’t believe this person, a man of our age, still had such backwards views of what it was to be equal in society.
I thought that due to the bountiful resources, social media opinions, THE NEWS, that feminism was just kind of, ya know, OK now? Apparently not.
For as long as there will be radical opinions and those with said opinions are enforcing them on their spawn, it will breed a kind of underground extremist-view mole hill. Although you can’t quite see it, it’s still there. Going deeper. You know you should join the other woodland creatures above ground, the ones who just want live in a happy forest altogether, where foragers get given equal amounts of twigs for their burrows for doing the same work, but instead they’d rather stay blindly digging their way through cold dirt trying to find other moles who share the same opinion.
Basically, what I’m trying to say is, this guy’s dad was a right-wing misogynist and had pushed his traditionalist ideas onto his son so that when he then came on a date with an actual feminist (who proudly admitted it) he felt it was perfectly normal, correction: hilarious, to basically undo what has recently been done with the marches and oh, I dunno, the last 60 years of womanly turmoil with one imaginary fish pole.
After everything, it still came down to, “it doesn’t affect me, so why should I care.”
He was Regina and I the meek and feeble Gretchen. Shot down for trying to make something stick, for trying to make feminism, not even a ‘cool’ thing to perpetuate, just a good thing, but the irony was that he wasn’t biting.
After the initial shock, I am now glad it happened. Here I was troddling along in Naiveland thinking that everyone (including millennial males) was inwardly fist pumping every time a girl walked past with a ‘the future is female’ top on. When really some were wondering how they were going tear down the humane thing they believe in just for a quick laugh and a tally on their friends ‘lad board’.
We tend to not realise that our ideals aren’t always shared by others when they are quite obviously how the world should be, but with more and more political debates hotting up down the pub in light of the election, it’s clear that we still have a long way left to go to change our generations view of equality. There will never be a time when everyone will agree on one thing, it won’t happen, there will always be the opposed. But at least I now know that they’re still out there and I’ll be armed with a better defence next time I’m expected to put a pretend hook in my mouth.
I will not be barked at or reeled into submission. Gretchen cowered, she was defeated, but if believing in a movement that empowers being a strong ass sass queen is anything to go by, then yes, I will keep making feminism happen.
The Regina’s of this world will not win. You can’t wind us up if you can’t sit with us (and by us I mean feminists).