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Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2020 3:12 am
by tomatopotato
Hey there,

just wanted to get something off my chest quickly: I've met some guy on instagram due to organizing a demonstration, and we've talked quite a bit on the phone and a couple of days later again. While he had an interesting perspective as a Black man in europe and was generally friendly, he also said things regarding women and sexuality that made me really uncomfortable.
I do not know how to react to that. He called me again yesterday but I did not pick up. I'd be totally fine being in contact with him to organize political stuff with both the groups we're in, I am not interested in investing time in him before I actually know what he's like, and anyway, it's all moving to fast. Additionally, I am feeling slightly uncomfortable due to his views on womanhood, and I do not want him to be interested in me romantically/platonically.
However, I do not really know how to communicate that, I don't want him to think that I see him as a the stereotype of the "predator".
Do I have to challenge his views on women etc regardless if I actually want to be friends? Or it is fine if I draw a line there, and stop communicating?

Re: Boundaries

Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2020 6:28 am
by Siân
Hi tomatopotato,

You never HAVE to challenge someones views on women, particularly if you don't feel too safe doing so. You also don't have to accept sexual talk or talk about women that makes you uncomfortable. It sounds here like you're trying to balance a few things: anti-racism and political organizing versus feminism and personal comfort/safety. I can't tell you exactly where the balance is, but we can think it through together.

Racism exists - including in progressive feminist circles. Misogyny exists - including in progressive anti-racist circles. It's good that you are able to acknowledge the stereotypes and are working to avoid perpetuating them. Sometimes being anti-racist is going to mean feeling uncomfortable, but there is the good uncomfortable of confronting your biases and there is the bad uncomfortable of hearing misogynist bullshit or sexual behaviour that you are not into.

Honestly, without knowing the details I can't tell if this guy is taking a more direct approach to flirting than you are used to, or if he's saying some clearly misogynist stuff. What I can say, is that it is okay to share some of the things you've shared here, like Hey, I learnt a lot about X from chatting with you, and would be into doing more political organising but just want to be clear that this is platonic/about [political activity]. You can also add Please don't talk about sexual stuff with me or Some of the things you had to say about X are not okay . Or you can 100% choose to cut off contact - no explanation required. What do you want to do?

Re: Boundaries

Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2020 12:11 pm
by tomatopotato
I've chosen to basically tell him what you have written out for me (thank you!), that I've learned a lot talking to him so far but do not want to have intense contact beyond politicak organizing for now. He was pretty surprised that I've felt like he is interested in me romantially/sexually, and honestly I feel slightly bad for fearing that and seeing being objectified behind every corner. He is not the most feminist guy, but as with racism, thats something you have to unlearn to reproduce - and I feel like shutting off immediatly is not very helpful, as I have a tendency to shut off in general if something feels weird. I don't really know where the line between "I am simply made uncomfortable personally" and "I am uncomfortable because this person challenges a belief of mine" lies (and sometimes those overlap, which makes it even harder.) However, he said he respects my privacy and I can always text him - which is a good response. I am trying to be more honest to folks if they're are doing something that makes me uncomfortable.

Re: Boundaries

Posted: Fri Jun 12, 2020 3:11 pm
by Mo
Regardless of his intent, if you were uncomfortable with something he was saying that's a valid response, for sure. I'm glad you were able to have that talk with him and that his response was positive overall.
I hear you on trying to be honest with people if they make you uncomfortable; this is something I've struggled with a lot and have tried to be better about recently. I know how tough it can be, so good job for deciding to speak up about how you were feeling.