Because I'm appalled at the lack of cooperation and compromise in Congress, I've been very intentional about opening myself and my facebook page to differing points of view. It seems important to practice what I preach: listening in a way that admits and allows for change in my thinking, responding in a way that supports understanding.
But today I un-friended a conservative facebook friend. I've known this person since high school, and was happy when facebook reconnected us several years ago. He's conservative, but for a few years we were able to comment on each other's posts without rancor.
That has changed recently and, as I said, I've unfriended him. But it wasn't for political reasons. It wasn't because he derided Obama at every turn and now accuses me of hatred when I criticize Trump. It wasn't that we don't agree, at all, when it comes to politics.
I have unfriended him because he is yet another man who engages with me only to (1) tell me how wrong I am; and/or (2) make unflattering comments. I want to be in dialogue with people who don't agree with me. But, as a woman, I won't stay in a one-way, contemptuous and patronizing conversation. And it's not like I didn't tell him exactly that although, of course, he didn't listen. I messaged him before unfriending, not because I think I'll get him to understand but because it was the respectful, honest thing to do.
(NOTE: there are plenty of men in my life who listen and converse respectfully with me, my husband chief among them. I appreciate the heck out of these men.)
But too many men still refuse to see that their need to compete and over-ride and argue and be superior and the One With All The Answers destroys authentic relationships with women.
And where authentic relationships cannot flourish, prejudice and cruelty and exploitation will.
I'm angry about that. I'm angry about Bernie Sanders rolling his eyes and talking down to Hillary during their primary season debate. I'm angry with Mitch McConnell for his patronizing, smug, "and yet she persisted."
I'm angry at the PBS news story I heard this morning about tech companies offering less money to women for the same positions men get more money for. I'm angry with women who say "she should just get over it" about a woman claims assault or harassment. I'm angry that girls are trafficked and prostitutes go to jail while the men who use them melt into the night, free.
I'm angry that some religions keep women from leadership and even from being in the same space as men, or from being seen at all. I'm angry that girls are kidnapped and spirited away one or hundreds at a time and it happens over and over and over and over.
Would these things occur in a world where women were accorded the respect and equality that is naturally theirs, but suppressed by men and other women with internalized misogyny?
I don't want to be self-aggrandizing here. After all, it was only a small act, a simple click of the "Unfriend" button. Yet unfriending that man was an act of feminism. Because it's all linked, in the same way a butterfly moving its wings in the Amazon rain forest contributes to a snowstorm over Siberia.
It was a small act, but not a trivial one, personal yet symbolic because women's rights are human rights and until we all stand up - in whatever large or small-but-not-trivial way we can - for the rights of women and girls, we accept and are complicit in our current reality and our future fate.