In class last night, we had a discussion on intimate relationships. It included everything from things people tend to list as important qualities in a partner to trust and satisfaction to power dynamics. A classmate in the back of class with me made a statement about his opinions on trusting his partner. "It's not her that I don't trust, it's the guys around her." All this seemed well and good, until he continued with, "Sometimes girls just don't think to fight back."
I confronted him, "What did you just say?"
Well meaning guy: "You know, in cases of like rape and stuff, guys force themselves on girls all the time."
Rageful feminista: "Have you considered that it's not a person's responsibility to have to think to fight back? That the forceful men around her should maybe have to think about not raping?"
Sputtering well meaning guy: "Oh yea, definitely, but like I tried to teach her self defense and she just doesn't get it. She is like really bad at it."
The class never even stopped to listen to our conversation in the back of the room. They just went on, talking about how important it is that guys are taller than girls in relationships. My intervention ended there...
Struggling rageful (very tall) feminista fuming to self on drive home: "I should have said that he should confront oppressive behavior among men. I should have said that women shouldn't have to be ashamed of being tall. I should have told them that I am a proud tall woman with a shorter male partner. Maybe he will rethink his approach...hope so. Am I proud of myself? Why is my face still red? How come no one else said anything? Why am I blaming myself for this?
...I should have had more support."
Moral of this feminista's story: Intervening is hard. It almost never feels like you've done enough to make the change. I'm still working on valuing myself, my actions, and my life. It takes a village...and I could use some help next time.