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Dear Amy,

I'm a feminist and I often discuss feminism with other people. Lately I've had endless discussions with a guy who basically thinks feminism is evil and bad in every way possible. He's going on about violent feminists (but he won't tell me exactly who these people are, except for Valerie Solanas) and gives me horrifying but not very concrete examples of how feminists don't care about men and want to build a matriarchy. I have tried to be patient and nice, but it's *very* hard since I feel that this is a person whose only interest is to make me feel stupid, evil and bad to the bone. When I try to explain what feminism means to me he just ignores me and won't let me define myself and my own beliefs. Sometimes I lose my temper and treat him the same way he treats me (and hope it will make him understand how unpleasant it is), but that doesn't feel good either. How can I handle this situation?

Best wishes from Gray


Dear Gray,

Congrats to you for hanging in this long with those conversations. You certainly have the right approach. Something I always do is to turn the question back onto the questioner. For instance, when someone says all feminists are man-haters - ask "who are you referring to?" Valerie Solanas is only one example - an accurate one at that, but also a dead one. People usually can't think of another and when they do it's usually inaccurate. So I usually try to approach it that way, but as you said, you have tried this and it hasn't entirely been successful.

Another approach is to get him to realize how he could benefit from feminism. Wouldn't he like it if he didn't have to stress about being the sole breadwinner? Or being an absent father? Or treating to the movies and dinner? Also, wouldn't he like it if he had good health care and if the price of good health care was reasonable? These are things that feminism fights for; not solely improving individual women's lives, but changing society. This is actually more radical than changing individual women and men, but people don't see it that way. Perhaps this will help. I hope so.


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