I am a 27-year-old woman who is a devout feminist. Through and through. BUT my parents are not. They aren’t overtly sexist parents but they do think some very problematic thoughts and we end up arguing almost always at dinner tables. They’re educated doctors, it’s not like they’re not aware of issues. But they refuse to believe that women arent treated unjustly. I tell them that’s because the women around them are privileged women (not saying that privilege doesn’t allow for sexism, it does ofc, I’ve been groped and ogled at so much, I too am traumatized from these experiences) BUT, we still have it better off in some ways. Just because they live in a privileged bubble, doesn’t mean that nothing else exists. I love them, so much. They’ve given me a great life and they’ve been good parents. But the more they try to argue with me, the more frustrated I get. It’s like they get a kick from annoying me now and I’m starting to feel uncomfortable, Appa. I try to ignore such topics, but the more I ignore it the more they press me. I feel like they’re the children now. How can I ease the tension? – Feminist but not by inheritance
Ans. Dear Feminist but not by inheritance,
You made it.
You are a kind and sensitive and empathetic soul who is passionate about the change that’s so desperately needed. But hang on. Where is that empathy when it comes to your parents?
Now parents are a weird breed I tell you. Love em or hate em or just get rid of em, some of us spend our entire lives trying to get them to cheer us on in whatever endeavor we partake in. Without meeting your parents, I wouldn’t be able to exactly pinpoint how unreasonable they are actually being. But dear FBNBI(!), we are all a product of our circumstances and inheritance. And in your case, clearly, you have evolved in spite of the baggage that’s your family bias.
My sincere advice to you will be to assess where they lie on the bell curve and how their opinion, even if seemingly ignorant, impacts your life in any practical manner. Are you free to be a feminist? Do they resist your ideology and stop you from certain activities that you believe are necessary to bring about this high time change? Or is it just an ideological difference, probably brought about by an exposure that they lack or maybe never had the gumption to rely on.
I think clearly, you are the grown-up here. And darling it’s gonna get worse rather than better unless you change your reaction to their perspective. I think it’s highly unlikely that they will change their minds given you have already, so sensibly and patiently tried to explain the dynamics to them. I say relax for now. Let the actions speak. Women’s empowerment is a movement that doesn’t need an introduction anymore. In your own gentle way, do leave the most positive responses around. They need to see that this is a necessary change and not resist it simply for the sake of parental pushback. That’s a thing! Trust me.
So here’s the plan.
Do what you are already doing in fighting the good fight.
Assuming they haven’t stopped you in your proactive lifestyle to bring about change, I’d say thank them for allowing such a space for you to evolve into the powerhouse that I think you are.
Remember, they raised you to reach this point.
Let’s not discount that.
And if you want the leg pulling at the dining table to stop, then refrain from a bit of debate. And do voice, politely that we are entitled to our opinions but not to disrespect our beliefs. Right now, from what I can gather, no middle ground is being reached since there’s an air of hostility around the issue.
Why not use this time to push some soft propaganda techniques.
Watch movies or series that showcase harassment in so-called empowered situations. Apple TV just released The Morning Show and there’s the Bombshell from just this year. Have you ever thought that what this might just be a definitional debate? That what is now known to be harassment was acceptable and crass behavior to them and everyone just went with the flow and no one dared think or voice any better.
The point is to have a discourse. Not aggression that doesn’t allow for empathy to be fostered on either side.
Be gentle with them. you are the grown-up now and they don’t know the rules in this brave new world. Go easy! You have already won. The content is registering. Now just gotta fine-tune the factory settings!
You can send your problems to Appa at ApasKiBaat@Behencharamag.com