Auntie SparkNotes: My Friends Say I'm Not Feminist Enough
My problem isn't really huge, but it bothers me nevertheless. The thing is, I'm a girl, and I have nothing against what's called "sexist" jokes. While I understand that yes, some of them do cross the moral/ethical line, I have no problem with the mild ones (you know, like they did with the boob thing on the Oscars last week).
Practically all of my female friends are die-hard feminists, and I like that about them, but they don't like the fact that I laugh at sexist humor. Of course, I don't think serious women-bashing is funny or acceptable, but my friends are also being unreasonable. They want me to be more "feminist," just like them. I'm already an advocate of equality for women and men, but I can't get them to understand that I'll probably never be as serious about it as them. Also, if they don't like those kinds of jokes, it's totally cool by me, but I don't know how to tell them to stop accusing me of "bashing my own gender" (that is an exact quote from my friend). I also don't know how to explain that my laughing at these jokes is not an attack on their own personal feminist values, because I do respect their passion for feminism, and I don't do this to make them mad on purpose or start any arguments. I just don't know how to have this conversation without hurting their feelings.
Eh... you can't.
Or at least, you should probably assume as much going in. Let's face it: if your girlfriends want to take offense—and by all appearances, taking offense is pretty much their most favoritest activity ever—then no amount of gentle language or sincere explanation is going to stop them from going nuclear over your difference of opinion. They're going to feel how they feel, and there's nothing you can do about that. But if you guys can't agree to disagree, the ensuing, constant conflict is going to be seriously corrosive to your friendship... particularly when, as in the case of the "We Saw Your Boobs" song, even hardcore feminists disagree on whether the joke was just plain sexist, or whether it was, in fact, a smart satirical send-up of sexism. (And obviously, I'm taking you at your word that it's really just Seth McFarlane-grade humor you're laughing at, and that you're not, say, a Chris Brown apologist. Because that would be pretty gross.)
Which is why, to begin with, you might want to just let it lie. You can't make "We Saw Your Boobs" funny to your friends, and they can't make you not be amused by it; you're at an impasse, and rehashing the same tired conflict over and over will get you nowhere. Whereas if you let it go—and if they do the same—then you can simply do what all smart friends do in matters of ideological disagreement, and choose not to discuss it anymore (and, of course, giggle over boob jokes to your heart's content whenever they're not around).
But if they bring it up, then you'll have to state the obvious: that you don't see eye to eye on this, and that the only way forward is for each of you to respect the other's position. You won't accuse them of being shrieking, joyless harridans for not sharing your sense of humor; and in return, they won't accuse you of lady-bashing and feminist treason just because you giggled at an off-color joke.
And if they bring it up again, then you'll be able to smile, and say, "We've talked about this, so let's not get into it again"—and then politely change the subject, say goodbye, leave the room, whatever. Repeat as needed, and you'll never have another nasty argument again. Because there's no debate if you refuse to get drawn in, and no disrespect if you all have the maturity to accept each other's differences.
Have you and a friend ever had ideological differences? Tell us in the comments! And to get advice from Auntie, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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