10

So my girlfriend is a feminist and I love her, she has feminist friends too and their reunions are as regular and fun as you would expect.

But I can't help to overhear some stuff that not only annoys me but truly hurts, like:

Oh yeah, women don't need men, totally, the human species don't need men now that we have artificial insemination.

I don't want her to ditch any of her friends but she could be more supportive of the value of men to society, or to life in general for that matter.

I also don't want to change her, she's already a smart, sensitive person but a smart, sensitive person can only deal with issues in a smart, sensitive way if they're able to recognize there even is an issue.

I haven't tried anything as of yet because the situation had not presented itself and my girlfriend has never made such type of comments herself. Overhearing was not intended. I don't want her to feel as if I'm blaming her for her friend's opinions, but her silence disappointed me a bit because it made it appear as if she agrees or finds it funny even when I think she doesn't, her silence allowed this person's opinion to seem like the strongest opinion in the room because no one objected.

About the person who made the comment, my girlfriend usually just says:

She's a bit extreme.

And it seems she just accepts that because she's close friends with the group leader whom is also an older friend of my girlfriend.

I've done some research and that is not being "extreme", there's a word for that and it is called 'misandrism', which is not an insult.

I don't want to sound irrational or insensitive while I convey this is a very real concern that hurts me.

I'm relatively new in her life in comparison with a couple of the women of the group and I think she respects my points of view regarding many topics including feminism, but I still worry she'll take my observation as an anti-feminist remark because it has happened elsewhere with other people.

I just want her to be supportive of the value of men when there are no men present in the room.

How can I have a conversation with my girlfriend where I am able to share my concerns with her in a way she will understand why I think this is a problem and encourage her to stick up for men when she's around friends who say dismissive or hateful things about men in general?

Note: On why some of the answers offered are not nearly close to be accepted.
Some suggest I go for the passive indirect approach of simply being a good example: I myself defend the value of women in front of a bunch of guys no matter how tough or stubborn they are. My girlfriend already consider me a great example.
Some suggest I should be better informed on how women have it worse and more difficult than men: I am very well informed, my girlfriend knows.

I don't want her to start "not all men"ing. I want her to intervene with her own sensitivity to keep hateful ideas at bay. And I can't be putting words in her mouth, she will say whatever she thinks it is intelligent and sensitive to say.

A valid answer would be similar to the one that offered a structured way on how to aim at the actual objective. That answer recommends I should set the tone by putting my insecurities on the table first and after covering that in general to strengthen our bond, then is offering some lines I could use to address the specific situation that I find in need of intervention. I've been considering accepting that answer, but it's still falling short and stopping at a warning that I might not be able to have a desired result. The only thing missing in that answer is how to encourage my girlfriend to make a positive change or influence their group, that's in the scenario in which she only needs some courage reinforcement and support from me. (Note that initially I didn't use the "encourage my girlfriend" phrase in the question title, that was edited by a moderator and it did help me to understand a little more on how to approach the situation, so thank you for that.)

We're Westerners, North American.

  • 3
    Is this related question of any help? – OldPadawan May 5 '18 at 6:46
  • 6
    Is this going to be the first step, or have you already tried anything? What do you mean by 'more supportive', what kind of behaviour are you expecting from her? I'm getting a 'her friends are doing it wrong' from the title, but an 'my girlfriend is doing it wrong' from the body, which is it? Are you looking for help in changing your girlfriend, your girlfriend's friends or your own behaviour? Where are you from, is there any cultural specifics we need to keep in mind as to 'what is considered polite'? – Tinkeringbell May 5 '18 at 9:04
  • 7
    I still don't see what you're trying to change in your own behavior. Yes, you want your girlfriend to change, but what exactly do you need our help with? What have you already tried? What went wrong, what can we help you with in regards to your own behaviour/skills? If you haven't tried anything yet, what are you afraid of doing wrong? Which cultural and societal norms do we have to keep in mind when determining what is considered 'polite' and what not? – Tinkeringbell May 5 '18 at 16:47
  • 2
    Comments are not for discussion. Please use them to ask for clarification or suggesting improvements. Any further discussion will be deleted. – Tinkeringbell May 5 '18 at 17:43
  • 7
    I think that what's causing confusion is that we're here to help facilitate how to go about having the discussion but we're not here to create your argument for you. Telling you factoids about how other cultures value men and women is beyond our scope. We focus on the structure of the discussion, not the content of it. – Catija May 5 '18 at 18:52
11

There are really two issues here.

1) your relationship with your girlfriend and how she percieves you.
2) her behavior with her friends and her lack of defense of men.

Due to #2, you are worried that she percieves you in a specific way. By not defending all men it seems like she's also not defending you. The easiest thing to do is to tease these two problems apart and deal with them separately. Indeed, her words spoken to her friends are not guaranteed to be an accurate representation of her opinion. She may be a guarded around them and not want to cause conflict or oppose them. As such, the only way to know her opinion is to ask her.

From your comments it's clear that you are worried about being rejected by being sentimental or not manly enough. Firstly, be reassured that many people appreciate seeing vulnerability in their partners, especially in a private relational setting. My husband's choice to show his vulnerability to me is something that I highly value. I see how guarded he is with others and how completely vulnerable he is around me and it makes me feel special.

So, talk to her about your insecurity. Mention what you've said here. That you're worried that she'll reject you if you show her your sensitive/vulnerable side. Does it bother her if you're more sensitive? Does she mind? You can say in the past you've been hurt in this way.

Remember that no matter what gender, human beings can be both strong and vulnerable. My husband and I have both been through some really rough stuff that require strength of emotion and character. We also are incredibly vulnerable with eachother and (to varying degrees) with parents and extended family. A healthy relationship is one where both people can be relaxed and themselves, both in times of weakness and in strength.

Once you and her have discussed her views on the matter, then you can move on to asking about her and her friends.

I didn't know you thought x, I was a bit worried because you don't really say your opinion to your friends. It made me feel insecure.
What do you think of their opinions? Do they bother you?
I know that they're talking about men in general, not me in specific, but it hurts when you don't say anything because it feels like I'm included in their insults.

Remember that your girlfriend may not group you with all other guys. She may see you a special and different because you're her partner. Her relationship dynamic with her friends is a complicated one, and she may hold back her opinion from them for a variety of reasons. You may not be able to convince her to be more defensive of you to the extent you want or expect. She is probably just trying to keep everyone happy.

7

If your girlfriend starts "not all men"ing she will be thrown out of the group. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NotAllMen

Every single woman in that group knows NOT ALL MEN, Every single time they try to have a conversation with men about this they will be informed NOT ALL MEN, I DON'T, they do not want to be informed of this is their safe space.

They know that every single statement of "men do this" is shorthand for "a statistically significant number of men do XYZ". This is called class analysis (or bagging groups of people together)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Class_analysis

Class analysis is research in sociology, politics and economics from the point of view of the stratification of the society into dynamic classes. It implies that there is no universal or uniform social outlook, rather that there are fundamental conflicts that exist inherent to how society is currently organised

There may be 1 woman in the group who is an actual literal separatist, but we know your girlfriend isn't because she isn't lesbian.

So In summary, you do nothing about the group dynamic. What you can do is talk to your girlfriend about how it worries you, how it makes you feel.

  • hello, thank you about informing me on some important theory, now, to answer my question, how would I go about the process to bring this with my girlfriend and let her know that I'm there for her and that if she's thrown out of the group then the group doesn't deserve her and she can find a better healthier group? – J A May 10 '18 at 18:17
  • Besides, I doubt that will happen because I don't want her to start "not all men"ing. I want her to intervene with her own sensitivity to keep hateful ideas at bay. And I can't be putting words in her mouth, she will say whatever she thinks it is intelligent and sensitive to say. – J A May 10 '18 at 18:43
  • Oh and, by the way, I don't mean to antagonize you but when you said "we know your girlfriend isn't (a literal separatist) because she isn't lesbian" sort of implies that lesbians are literal separatists. I know lesbians with very sane and healthy feminist arguments who've never said something misandristic. On a side note, my girlfriend is bisexual. – J A May 10 '18 at 18:55
  • 1
    It does not imply that about lesbians at all about lesbians, not all statements are two directional. I know you didn't vote for trump,you aren't american, in no way implies all americans voted for trump. – WendyG May 10 '18 at 23:01
  • 4
    A woman who has a boyfriend can't be a literal separatist or she wouldn't have a boyfriend. Every separatist i have met has been lesbian, not every lesbian is a separatist. Can you see that distinction? – WendyG May 11 '18 at 7:27
4

First of all I want to state that to me it seems rather harmless banter. Sort of a bonding action of a group with fairly uniform view on one topic. This is not that any single one of the group has to think it is true in a honest 1-to-1 discussion, but it helps to elevate the group. You know the infamous locker-room-talk

So this sort of behavior will appear in almost any group of people and it is always hard to decide if you just let it pass or go along with it, or if you make a stand. For example if I´m in a group of japan-car enthusiasts someone will make a derogatory comment about Porsche - I´ll probably laugh, even if I know it´s may not really be valid, as it´s harmless. But if someone makes a racist comment, I´ll surely step in.

If you now request your girlfriend to stand up for man in her group, you are effectively denying her to take part in those moments, which could alienate her from the group. A softer approach could be to let those moments pass, but put them into perspective afterwards.

Haha, yea sure - we may not need men but honestly I think I still prefer them to petri dish .. :)

To your question:

How can I have a conversation with my girlfriend where I am able to share my concerns with her in a way she will understand why I think this is a problem and ask her to stick up for men when she's around friends who say dismissive or hateful things about men in general?

I would try the indirect approach.

  1. Be a good example. Don´t take part in any derogatory gossip yourself, especially when she is present. The most influential experience I had on this topic was watching a friend, standing up for someone everyone else was trash-talking about and who was not there.

  2. Let her know, in general, what you think of this kind of group comments. Especially that you find it disturbing if any of those comments are against a specific race, gender or (sexual) orientation.

  • 2
    Thank you for your opinion Daniel, however, I deeply disagree, you are right to observe it is a bonding action, but wrongly so, just as it is wrong to let pass a comment like "women belong in the kitchen" and laugh it off adding "haha sure, but I prefer dealing with women's temper than eating a cold tuna sandwich by myself". I don't let those types of comment pass even by my father, I don't start a fight about it, but I certainly remind him that is not cool and that he might be missing out on connecting with women, to him and to anyone. I expect the same respect and appreciation towards men. – J A May 7 '18 at 8:46
  • @J A: I think we rather agree on this one. Its not good! Unfortunately, it is also all to human. That´s why I suggest a soft approach. Not making a scene and slowly change the behavioral pattern of oneself and the ones around. – user6109 May 7 '18 at 8:52
  • 3
    The point is: If you hold yourself to high standards, you´ll get respect. If you expect everyone else to adhere to those high standards you´ll get lonely. So compromise is key. Better to influence them to some degree than to alienate them and have no influence at all ... – user6109 May 7 '18 at 9:27
3

This isn't what you want to hear, but your girlfriend is allowed to make her own choices about who she spends time with, and whether or how she wants to address the way they talk about men.

All you can really do is tell her how the things her friends say make you feel.

Then it's up to her to decide what, if anything, she wants to do about it.

Trying to convince, or emotionally manipulate her, into being your proxy, if she doesn't choose to speak up, is... Well, kinda messed up.

In the context of fighting misandrist views, it would be wise to be very aware of how you behave and how hard you push your girlfriend to say or do something about it. Telling her that she must say something, or telling her that she must do something, or telling her that she must stop hanging out with her friends could very easily be seen as rather misogynist and end up reinforcing the negative things that her friends are saying... Telling your girlfriend what to say, or how to feel about something, would seem to cross some lines that you probably shouldn't cross. Not saying that's what you're already doing, just saying that it's a pitfall to be very aware of.

Your best option is probably to speak for yourself when you hear things that you object to. Be your own advocate, if others think you have a worthy point they may even follow suit.

Again, be careful about how you approach. Chances are pretty good that they've already heard your point of view at great length, over and over again. Try not to speak in generalities, but rather talk about how you feel when they say things that you personally object to. Try to be aware that they feel justified in "punching up" it may be easier to ask that they refrain from saying those things around you, than to ask them to refrain from saying them at all.

I find that kind of offensive, would you mind not saying that around me?

Making the argument that the misandrist things they say are equal to the misogynist things that some men say, isn't likely to go over well at all. There's a difference between punching up and punching down, be aware of this. (Even if you don't believe this, they likely do, so it's worth remembering)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.