I was talking with an incredible feminist this morning. About relationships. And how, even after being raised by a feminist to be a strong, independent woman who didn’t put up with bullshit from men, she still has to work hard to not put up with bullshit from men. Sometimes she wins the battle, and sometimes she loses.
Like all of us, she’s human. And being human means that you learn how to operate in society by what’s around you. You are conditioned that certain things happen a certain way, that certain people have certain roles, that certain actions almost guarantee certain outcomes. (Ok, I’ve decided I hate the word certain now and will never use it again.)
So, you know those days when you just feel so fucking frustrated with your interactions with men? You’re frustrated with them, sure. But more often, you’re really pissed off at yourself – like, dammit, I should know better already!
This is where shit gets tricky. It’s a two-sided coin.
On one side of the coin.
You can be hella mad at men and the patriarchy for creating a world where women fear for their safety, or have to fight for equal pay, or equal rights, or whatever particular issue impacts you personally. You can be angry about the conditioning you’ve received. For the way people treat you for the mere fact of being a woman. For the way this shows up in your relationships.
You have been entrenched in ways of thinking and being that have taught you to behave a particular way, especially in regards to your interactions with men.
On the other side of the coin.
You must take responsibility for your role in this systemic toxicity. Part of what we have to own is that there are times when being complicit is convenient for us.
Here are a few examples:
When a man asks you where you want to go on a date and you’d rather have him decide than have to choose.
When a man puts his hand on your thigh and you don’t like it, but you don’t speak up.
When a man moves in, and rather than teach him how to use your washer and dryer, you do his laundry for him.
But no matter where the coin falls, your role is always the same.
The greatest act of protest to dismantle the patriarchy is to behave in a way that is true and authentic for you, not as a result of having something been done to you or the conditioning you’ve adopted. That is feminism. That is power.
It is your job to speak up, to hold your rightful place in the world.
Let me be clear, this is not a “fuck men, I’m in charge here!” stance. It is a stance where you act free of the conditioning you have received. Where you get to be you, free of any expectations for what your life, your body, your relationships should look like.
And rather than this being an aggressive fight, it is actually a humble dance.
Sure, sometimes it looks like telling an asshole off. But more often it looks like sharing the thing that’s really important to you and your heart and inviting and allowing a man help you to create it.
But, dang, it is messy along the way.
It takes time to sift and sort through the beliefs that are your own versus the ones that were shoved down your throat. Becoming conscious and interacting differently comes from practice…and with practice comes failing.
So have some compassion for yourself when you misstep. It’s one thing to know better, and an entirely different animal altogether to do better.
Forgive yourself. You are doing the best you can with what you have today.
And then get up and do it again tomorrow.
What’s one thing you did right today in this long-game of making choices that are yours and yours alone? Leave a comment below and tell me about it. And if you want to talk more about how to make more deliberate messes as you navigate this territory, send me a message and we’ll set up a time to chat.