I hear this a fair bit. People who are angry, passionate, non-submissive, resolute, intense – we get shocked looks, and exhortations to compromise, and remarks like “You’ll catch more flies with honey, dear“.
I’ve been vaguely wondering why that particular reprimand makes my teeth itch so much. There is a lot to dislike about it: the patronising nature of the rebuke; the scandalised remonstration about tone; the expectation of yielding submissiveness and manipulation as a woman’s natural place in an argument.
But I think I may have just hit on another major reason why it bothers me, and that’s because the scolder is, oft-times, drawing a conclusion from a faulty premise.
Why the assumption that everything I do here, every feminist post I write, is all about teaching antifeminists about feminism?
Feminists say this over and over again, but it bears repeating: it’s not my job to teach other people, particularly antifeminists, about feminism from scratch. I’m not always interested in reasoning people step-by-step into the fold. I’m under no obligation to coddle their feelings and give them cookies and be kind and attentive and safe. Sometimes I might do that. Sometimes I might not. It’s my choice.
Ofttimes, I write a feminist post with no interest whatsoever in how antifeminists will read it.
Guess what – sometimes, just sometimes, we feminists like talking amongst ourselves. The fact that the conversation is publicly visible doesn’t mean that I want every Tom, Dick and Harry wondering along and putting in his ignorant opinion without listening first. The comments are open because Hoydenizens, random passing feminists, and people interested in feminism are invited to join in.
But antifeminists have a problem with that. Because all of a sudden, it isn’t about them. Their world turns upside down. Feminists are talking amongst themselves without constantly watching and adjusting every word to cater to antifeminists. Feminists are doing their own thing. Women are engaging in conversations that aren’t about men, and aren’t particularly intended to include men. We’re sharing the honey, and the vinegar, and the gin & tonic, amongst ourselves.
It’s a prime example of “If it isn’t about you, it isn’t about you”.
Sometimes, I’m look like I’m not trying hard enough to catch flies simply because I have no interest in catching flies. I don’t want to waste my honey on a bunch of filthy flies. I don’t want to lure them into a sticky trap and then wonder what to do with the dead bodies. I want them to stay outside and go do whatever the hell flies do for fun – eat shit, I suppose.