A few days ago at work, my friend Henry and I were doing prep work and having a discussion about feminism. His girlfriend had taken a similar course second semester at VCU, and we were vigorously agreeing with one another that the definition is so fluid that it’s hard to know whether we could identify as feminists or not. We called over our friend Alexis who had also taken a similar class to ask her if she identified as a feminist. She responded, “maybe…I guess it depends on what you guys think feminism is….”
Which of course led us to another discussion about what we think feminism is. Henry said that it’s all about gaining equality in the workplace and in education. I explained that some people extend the necessity for equality much further— that to truly be considered equal in the workplace and education, women could no longer be seen as people who need help or who are in place for the sole purpose of pleasing men. These goals include women opening doors for themselves, not needing to be walked home, not being represented as slim sex-toys on mass media, etc. Henry’s jaw dropped.
“Some of those things are just so engrained in society— how do people expect that to change? There’s always the older generation that thinks things need to be done their way.” I told him it goes even further than that. If you think about it, it’s a great thing to want men and women to be equal, but what about men who identify as women or vice versa? What about women who like women? There’s a whole other community (LGBTQ+) out there, and if we’re fighting for equality between men and women, where do they fit in?
“But I love the cute gay couples that come in here! I always want to take their pictures and ask how they met and stuff,” Henry said. I told him the story that I shared in last week’s blog post about how I called the young boy with two moms “a gentleman,” and how I didn’t even realize until after that it could be potentially harmful. I explained that things we say and do can indicate another message than we intend. I explained that even here at Ovations we think we’re equal— boys and girls make the same tips, do the same work, have the same number of tables every night. But no one thinks about the fact that when we close, the boys are in charge of taking out the trash while the girls sweep the floor.
I share this story because I think it is an incredible representation of what I have really learned from this class. I’ve learned to pay more attention to the people around me. I have learned not to judge based on appearances, presumptions, or knowledge— in fact I’ve learned that we’re better off to not judge at all. I have learned that people understand, experience, and interpret things through the lenses of their own different life experiences. I have learned to be welcoming, to ask questions, and to thereby expand my own lens of life experiences. I have learned to be impeccable with my words and intentions.
As this is a true recount of a conversation I had, I did not literally cite the resources that I drew from as Henry and I were talking. However I linked the instances in the story to my past blog posts to illustrate how I had drawn from things that I had learned in this course in this instance to explain what I think feminism is and how it applies. Of course, this conversation took place before our readings of the past week, so I did not discuss with Henry the extent of feminism overseas. However I significantly attribute my understanding of judgement to this week’s assignments, so I linked it there.