I’ve just returned from one of the largest conferences that attracts people working in my field. So, lots of fantastic academic papers, opportunities to mix with the leaders in the field, etc. etc.
At a social event, two men started chatting to me and my friends. They set in to talking about how feminists are really getting it wrong. We should call ourselves ‘equalists’, really (because, you know, focussing on women would sound too … well … like we thought there was an actual imbalance of rights going on). And women have too many rights anyhow, they continued. Why, just look at reproductive rights (I should point out, we’re in the US here).
At this point another man chips in to observe that, actually, in certain states there are a few concerns. Such as North Dakota. But this man is just as shouted down as we were.
The men go on to say that if a man doesn’t want a baby, he should be entitled to sign away his paternity responsibilities after conception - the fact he got someone pregnant not being any sign he’s responsible for a baby. And women should not be allowed to abort a baby without consent.
So. At some point in all of this I try to explain, gently, that I am a radical feminist, and that I do not agree with his views. I explain quite politely, because we are in an academic setting where the option of throwing my wine in his face did not occur.
The conversation concludes, some minutes later with ‘…. by the way, you have *great* boobs’.
Let me observe here, fellow readers, that this is *not* the way to pick up a feminist. Nor probably any woman.
I saw these blokes around the conference after this, and I am sure they had no idea that anything they’d said might have seemed offensive or distasteful. It just didn’t register with them.