It can be difficult to explain to your boyfriend, husband, or mailman why the world can sometimes be a scary place for women. While unaware of the underlying structures of society that give men privilege over women, your man is a sweetheart, and he can’t possibly understand what he did wrong to deserve this kind of talk! Here are some ways you can have this important conversation, without making him feel like anything less than the #big #strong #gentleman he is.
Start by reminding him how great of a person he is, just for listening.
This is an important place to start the conversation, because having to be quiet and listen to other people can be the hardest part about being a man. As real as your struggle is, his struggle is even bigger for having to listen to you!
Let him know you’re interested in him.
Talking about street harassment and pay inequality can be tough subjects, so display body language that still lets him know that you’re interested. Statistics like “one in four women will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime” goes down a lot easier with some sustained eye contact and hair twirling.
Stay away from hard “facts.”
At the end of the day, human experience is purely subjective, so “facts” tend to get in the way of meaningful conversation. Sure, “numbers don’t lie,” but they can make him really uncomfortable. And just what is “truth,” anyway? And for that matter, what is “harassment” or “rape?” Can we really ever know whether each of these things is any less “myth” than the stories of Medusa or Hercules? No, we can’t! Which brings us to the next strategy . . .
End all of your sentences with, “but that’s just my opinion!”
This is a great way to say what you mean without really saying anything at all. Remind him that his opinions are just as valid, if not more valid than your own. Because he can observe your experiences from an outside male perspective, he probably has a better idea of why men actually have it pretty tough, if you really look at the facts.
For every minute you talk about issues unique to women, let him have five minutes to tell you what you should really be angry about.
The acknowledgement of bigger injustices let’s you check in with yourself and ask: Am I overreacting just a little bit? This will also allow him to remind you of that time he did Teach For America.
Avoid using phrases like, “You’re wrong!”
The easiest way to avoid this mistake is to imagine how small and disrespected he’d feel hearing it. Don’t make him feel like a victim by not trusting his interpretation of your experiences.
Assure him he has a really, really large penis.
Slip this into the conversation as often and subtly as possible. Repeatedly gaze toward his crotch and act like it’s distracting you from the conversation, or that you’ve been suddenly overcome by a memory of something related to his dick.
Just listen to what he has to say about the issue. The more you listen, the less intimidating you’ll seem, and the more progress you’ll be able to make!
Most importantly: Do not attempt to talk to him about male privilege and white privilege at the same time. This can make him feel really small. After all, he’s a really good guy! Why do you have to go and ruin dinner with this stuff again?