If you’ve recently discovered feminism you’ll have noticed that the world around you has changed. Well not the actual world, but the way you view the world. It’s a beautiful thing that can create incredible opportunities, push your boundaries and expand your horizons. Unfortunately for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. So you may also also discovered that your favourite film or song has awful undercurrents of sexism or transphobia or ableism. And whilst initially that can suck, there is still that sense of pride that you can recognise a prejudiced theme and transcend onto a higher intellectualised genre, totally pretentious, yah.
Truly the worst part of discovering feminism though is either clashing with friends or simply outgrowing them. If you’re new into this feminism thing and you’re still getting your ‘cisgendered’ mixed up with your ‘heteronormative’ I don’t want you to panic and slam on the brakes. The most important thing to remember is that true friends will listen to the discussion you are bringing to them and then change and grow with you, and if they don’t, then do you really want to be friends with them?
Clashing with friends is awful; I used to be a bro, a lad, a walking cacophony of internalised misogyny. And that meant that when the time came that I wasn’t finding the tedious kitchen and sandwiches jokes funny I clashed with some friends. The first thing I did was give people a second chance, after all, I’d known some of these people from primary school. I couldn’t just throw a friendship down the drain over a joke which wasn’t to my taste. Like I said before, if someone is willing to listen, engage and grow with you then all was well and bumps could be smoothed out along the way. If they weren’t then well and truly fuck them. Capital F, capital T. Fuck Them. You don’t have to stand around and listen to jokes which belittle your gender, or listen to backwards facts which someone has heard from a friend of a friend without a credible source, especially if those “facts” disrespect your entire existence. That’s a clash that’s worth falling out over.
Outgrowing friends is possibly even worse than a clash. We’ve all got that innocent friend who doesn’t mean to be offensive but they’re lack of knowledge and awareness just makes you uncomfortable. Their jokes become less funny and innocent comments become weighted as you start to understand how powerful language can be, but no matter how many times you try and explain to them, and how apologetic they are as they didn’t want to ever hurt someone’s feelings, they still go back to the same old problematic behaviour. So you start to hang out less and less, you don’t make as much time for them, and you grow apart. I personally have found this harder to deal with than a clash of opinions. With a clash there is closure, an ending, a final battle. When you outgrow someone it can happen so gradually you don’t even notice it’s happening, and that can be heartbreaking.
The important thing to remember that although it is fine to grieve both of these friendships, it is also important to remember that you are growing as a person and if you're open with your new found feminist stance you will attract likeminded people. Find yourself a community, take Instagram for example, when I started labelling myself as a feminist I had four feminist friends. Now I am connected to people all over the world. So yeah, you might lose some friends, but fuck it, you’re onto bigger and better things now.