Thursday, October 22, 2009

The F Word (some more)

It's odd - feminism hasn't been especially on my mind of late, but it does seem to keep cropping up this week. I had a very interesting conversation with someone yesterday, starting with some frustration with a person of my acquaintance who is under the impression he is the Smartest Man in the World. She asked me if he's chauvanistic, and I thought about it and said that basically, on an intellectual level, he thinks he believes in equality and education for women and girls. He often remarks on education particularly, in fact. I don't judge this to be a "display" tactic - a way to prove his cred on the subject of women - but I do think that there is a disconnect between what he intellectually thinks (or, as may be possible - aspires to believe) and the deeper current of expectations most of us are unable to examine.

This is a person whose behavior, when he's thinking about it, espouses much enlightenment - but whose real feelings occasionally seem to peek out from under the mask one is expected to wear.

I can't say I know anything about another person's mind, I know this. But I've known him now long enough that I think it's at least not an unreasonable thing to think. Other people do, quite flatly, find him a sexist and a nuiscance in this context at times. And I've seen him completely unaware of his own dismissal of women, at times. But I've also seen the genuineness of his excitement when he discusses the youngsters in his own family in the context of school. It may not be bone-deep, but it's real. I've seen his occasional self-deprecation, too.

We all suffer disparities between what we want ourselves to be and what we are; few people are capable of much honesty about it. I think this guy is probably a good one, but butting up against this frustrating divide is still incredibly frustrating sometimes.

There are times I really like this person, and times I want to brain him with a brickbat (and I don't even know what a brickbat is). It seems to be the way. People - can't live with 'em ... can't punch (most of) 'em in the neck and get away with it. *Sigh*

Anyway. Feminism. Good stuff that.

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