One thing that feminists struggle with the most, is the lack of likeability. I have found that this is a grave concern for many women, whether they’re feminists or not, and my response is always the same: It’s ok.
Because it is, and if it’s not, it will be. I too, struggled with fleeting likeability as I expanded my feminist knowledge. I kept my feminist principles at bay for the sake of being grouped with women who hate men. In hindsight, I see how that stunted my conceptualization of feminism, at best I was a shallow feminist who sought for men to be respectful and would not harm me. So, I always am and will continue to be sympathetic with women who struggle with balancing likeability and being a feminist. Any woman who has undergone the journey to feminism has dealt with this and in my opinion, it is a crucial part of the feminist journey because it is at this point that you determine what your feminist principles will be. Women either stay in limbo, desperately trying to maintain their desirability and be feminists, or they realize that being liked for who you truly are is more valuable than societal gaze / approval.
I stopped caring about likeability when I realized that people weren’t liking me for me. What they liked was palatable, universally accepted, and watered down versions of the truth. They loved that I advocated for women’s empowerment, women having rights, being pro-choice, but if I said, hoes don’t exist, marriage is oppressive, men are trash, they had a visceral reaction. I can’t pinpoint one exact moment when likeability officially became a non-factor for me, there were a lot of moments over the course of a couple of years. However, I can tell you that once I didn’t care, I felt a weight being lifted off of my shoulders.
I can say with full conviction, that I don’t give a fuck about being liked or desired.
If you dislike me or find me undesirable because I speak openly, candidly, and fervently about the shit women go through, then by all means continue to do so because I’m never going to stop. The idea that feminists are radical is idiotic, there’s nothing radical about liberation. The fact that people think that further proves why feminism is so important. A lot of people think that women are naturally inferior to men, they believe the role of the woman is to be of service to men. If they didn’t then feminism wouldn’t be a thing. If you believe women have a natural subservient place to men or if feminist ideologies upset you then you should anticipate resistance from women. Especially black women.
I am not the kind of feminist that gives a fuck about being liked, because I know anything blindly bestowed is of no value.
I lead with feminism and blackness, so that there is no confusion about my political and social stance. If you’re going to dislike me, then I’m going to make sure we get that shit out of the way up front. If all it takes for you to dislike me is to know that I am a feminist then you are free to dislike me all you fucking want to. I don’t want you in my life anyway. I want to be around critical thinkers, people who understand complexities, realities, agency, and autonomy. I work with a man who has a visceral reaction to my feminist thoughts but respects my right to have them and has the wherewithal to conceptualize feminist principles. Given the patriarchal society that we live in, I expect his reaction. It is the norm when men are confronted with (what they consider) radical feminist ideologies. At the end of the day, that doesn’t mean shit to me. I don’t curtail my feminist principles for the sake of his favor. I don’t confuse his generalized respect for likeness, for no other reason than the fact that I don’t give a fuck.
You shouldn’t give a fuck either.
I’m not asking you, as a feminist, to be callous towards society or the people you interact with, I’m asking you to be cautious of what you value. When you don’t place value on societal rewards (men liking you) because you understand that those rewards are anchored in oppressive systems, you can work past the idea of being liked and desired and get into the real. My wish for all women is to live free of societal pressures and demands, and since we are still fighting and living within the patriarchy, I envision that wish as women feeling comfortable and secure enough to be themselves.
So, yea men are going to dislike you, simply because you’re a feminist. It will be a hardship at first, because of how we are socialized, but I promise you, if you work through it, if you divest the value you have placed on likeability and desirability, it will be ok.