Back while I was still dating en ex boyfriend, I had a conversation with him where one of our mutual friends was brought up and then the conversation veered down a side path that had become all too familiar to me. It was all too familiar to me because it’s where our conversations went every single time this friend of ours was mentioned in conversation. Every time that this specific friend came up in conversation, my then boyfriend would always speculate on whether or not this friend of ours might be gay. He would then list a bunch of reasons why he thought this might be possible. Most of the time I would basically just let him ramble on and then I would remind him (again) that I did very briefly date the friend in question, (for about an afternoon in high school) which doesn’t really mean anything one way or the other as far as the likeliness of this friend being gay or not, and that I had no clue what his sexuality was and then I would try to move the conversation on.
Except one afternoon I stopped playing along. I had finally had enough.
When the inevitable speculation about this friend’s sexuality started up I finally asked my ex “What the hell does it matter whether he’s gay or not? Why do you have to speculate on his “gayness” every. single. time. he comes up in conversation? How the fuck is his sexuality any of your business?”
My ex took issue with me saying he did it “every time”, that I was exaggerating and blowing things out of proportion.
I wasn’t though. Out of the two of of us, I was the one with a better memory and I had a much better recall for conversations that we had had. He would flat out tell me that his memory sucked… but apparently when it comes to him doing things that I find offensive he’s the one with the better memory… *eyeroll*
Not only would it come up every time that this friend was mentioned, he’d say the exact same things to support his “theory”.
When he stopped arguing with me about how frequently we’d had this conversation in the past he started listing things that this friend had said to him and then saying to me “Now tell me that that doesn’t sound gay.” or something along those lines. And he would say that “Of course it doesn’t matter, it’s just some things he says makes me wonder.”
And when I pointed out to him yet again that I had very briefly dated this guy in high school his response this time was. “LOL Maybe you were his “beard”!”
I responded to his justifications for wondering and his “beard” comment by telling him that I was “trying really hard not be offended because I knew that he wasn’t trying to be mean.” Although the continued speculations after I pointed out that it wasn’t his business and then the “beard” comment made my blood boil.
“Geez, I can’t even make a joke anymore… *sigh*”
What my response was: “Oh please, like I don’t let you get away with jokes that are more offensive than this all the time…”
What my response should have been, possibly in connection with the above: “No. You can’t “make a joke” anymore if it’s something that I tell you I find offensive. And there shouldn’t be any problem with that.”
But because of how this conversation, and others like it, actually went, I learned to bite my tongue more often about the things that bothered me because criticism was never taken well by him. And I was always made to feel like I was the one being unreasonable. That I was being “too sensitive and needed to lighten up”. That I needed to learn to “take a joke.”
When he would talk about being “okay with feminism as long as it’s fair”, I would think at first “Okay this is a guy who understands and supports feminism.” And then when blindsided by certain things that he would say I would automatically think that maybe I needed to “lighten up” because he “didn’t mean anything by it” because he was “supportive” of feminism. And because he said that he was “supportive” if I pointed out that he was doing something offensive he would get offended because he’s a “good guy” and is “on my side”.
But as time went on I began to focus more on the “as long as it’s fair” part of that statement. Because he seemed to be of the opinion that anything that would make women’s lives better might potentially “harm” men in some way. That he seemed to believe that if “Feminists” really got their way, that he would lose a lot of rights. As often as he claimed that he knew that feminism wasn’t man-hating, he’d still talk about how certain “feminists” were like that. Only his ideas of what was “man-hating” usually turned out to be an article that I had in fact read earlier and had agreed with. An article that had expressed anger through sarcasm, justifiable anger over situations that I myself have actually been in. And when I would point out to him that that wasn’t “man-hating” he was say something like that he didn’t like the “writing style”. Or that he thought that it was “way out there”.
As a cisgender, straight, white male he was going to decide what was “way out there” in terms of other people being oppressed or abused.
Because he simply couldn’t believe that maybe there are men out there that are really that bad. It must have been an exaggeration.
Which proved that he wasn’t really “supportive” of feminism but was in fact distrustful of it instead. Always afraid that it would go too far and he would lose the right to do things. That he would be oppressed.
What he never seemed to understand was that if he would lose the “right” to do something (like tell offensive jokes) because of feminism, that maybe be never should have been doing it in the first place.