“Are you a feminist?” He asked. “Yes,” I replied.
This morning, I had a meeting at a diner. After the gentleman with whom I was meeting left, the man in the booth across from ours caught my attention. He had obviously been eavesdropping on our conversation about fertility education and holistic sexuality.
“I can tell from the conversation you were having that you’re a feminist. You remind me of my daughter. She’s a feminist too and as passionate as you are. I’m grateful for the work y’all do. Your generation can change this mess we’re in.” He proceeded to lament “the patriarchy,” criticize those who ignore the Feminist Movement, and thank me for helping “break the glass ceiling.” Some of his words were rather crude, but he seemed like a nice guy who needed someone to talk to, and I had a few minutes to spare. I listened to his perspective and nodded in affirmation.
As I suspected, he eventually brought up abortion in a way that indicated he assumed I was pro-choice. His surprise was palpable when I replied, “I’m actually against abortion because, like you said a few moments ago, all people are equal. It may be legal to end another life, but that doesn’t make it right.” He was quiet for a long time, then shared, “I’ve never thought about it like that. When you put it that way, it’s rather hard to disagree with you. I’m actually speechless.” After discussing a few scenarios that might lead a woman to feel like abortion is her only choice, he exclaimed, “talking to you really is like talking to my daughter. The two of you may not agree on everything, but you have the same heart and the same passion. It’s really great.”
He then told me that his daughter was in her 20’s and asked me how old I was. When I replied, he mumbled something about hitting on me and said, “You look like jailbait. Other guys also probably hesitate to talk to you because you look like jailbait.”
Without skipping a beat, I looked him straight in the eye, said “goodbye,” and walked away without letting him say another word. I couldn’t get in my car fast enough.
The sad thing is, when I drove away, I actually began to blame myself. I felt stupid for not recognizing his crude language as a red flag, and positively moronic for actually thinking his comments about rethinking abortion were sincere. What I witnessed was a man who turned feminism into a Trojan horse that would carry him into a conversation with me. He knew mentioning feminism would start a conversation and that praising my comments about abortion would prolong that conversation long enough to reach his real goal: to hit on me.
You, sir, are no feminist. But you sure are a perfect illustration of just how much work we feminists have to do.