The other morning at work I was embroiled in a conversation about feminism with two male coworkers, one of whom I am very close with and whom I describe as a feminist even though he feels uncomfortable identifying as one, and the other who just started working with us.
The latter had been a stay at home dad to three young children until recently, and I got the feeling he wanted to brag about that. He recounted a story about how he was at the supermarket with said children and an old woman complimented him on pitching in to help with the kids and give mum a break (funny how women are never complimented for this; it’s just out duty). Somehow the conversation moved on to feminism, and my friend joked that he’d be a feminist’s worst nightmare. He then clarified, saying that he’d actually been called a feminist. The new guy scoffed, asking who called him that and if they knew what a feminist was. I butted in, saying it was me who called him a feminist and, yes, I know what one is. My friend attempted to defend my honour by saying that I’m a feminist blogger so of course I know what a feminist is. The conversation then somehow moved on to Popeye, of all things, and my colleague asked if my friend thought Olive Oyl was a victim or a slut because she kept flitting between an obsessed Popeye and the abusive Bluto. My friend ummed and ahhed his way out of the predicament while I stood there reeling.
I couldn’t stop thinking about the conversation for the rest of the day. I didn’t know why, all I knew was that I felt about 100 shades of discomfort during and after the interaction.
Then I realised: when I was scoffed at for calling a man a feminist, I was being mansplained to.
From the background info above, this guy seems to subscribe to the virgin/whore dichotomy when it comes to women and that feminism is only the concern of someone who has a vagina. Perhaps because of his stay-at-home status he feels like he lives in a post-feminist society with his wife as the breadwinner being proof of this. I really don’t know, and I don’t care to. I’m uncomfortable around this guy, and I don’t want to have to justify my feminism to him. He obviously comes from a different generation and probably thinks he knows all there is to know about feminism because he took a gender studies class at uni that one time or read a book on the topic.
I know I’m being a bit harsh here, but he really got my back up over this. Do you think I’m overreacting or does being mansplained to make your blood boil, too?