By: Lizbet Palmer
My slow and wandering journey through feminism began at a Methodist women’s college in Columbia, SC, aptly named Columbia College. It hosted about 1,000 students each year, and the campus itself barely goes over a square block.
So now picture me, small-college graduate, hurrying around SMU’s campus trying to find a single flagpole in what seemed like never ending brick buildings, with my oversized messenger bag thumping awkwardly against my legs because, for some reason, I insist on being equipped with everything necessary to set up a small office at any given notice.
It was extra heavy this particular Monday because in it were two books, my Grandma’s Bible and Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay. I had been given the opportunity to represent the Christian Feminist (or Feminist Christian, I’m honestly not sure which is more “correct”) perspective in an event called “Have Coffee with A…” for the Mustang Heroes Heroes Week, and I knew with books I could at least pretend to know what I was talking about.
The day took a quick turn for the surprising. I had conversations about your everyday types of questions, “How do you justify believing in a patriarchal religion while also claiming feminism?” and “What does the Bible say about women?” That was cool. I absolutely love to talk about both of those (Seriously, if you ever want to talk about these, let me know). But what ended up making the day glorious was the variety of people who were curious to ask these questions. I got to talk to people who believed in God, atheists, conservatives, liberals, and people who weren’t really sure where they stood. Surrounded by experts in other areas such as STDs, Disability Awareness, and Sexism in the Workplace, I was lucky enough to have a part in this by simply having conversations.
Here’s my takeaway. The last couple of weeks have been discouraging to say the least. I’ve seen friends and families gather themselves into groups of people that make them feel comfortable where they can talk and have their own ideas reflected back to them and simultaneously pop little bullets out at the other side. Yet here I was in a sweet little bubble where people felt safe asking and being vulnerable and listening to something that might push them outside of their comfort zone. It helped that we had example questions written out that people could choose, but I found that once the conversation started, these were no longer necessary. It turns out that, when given the chance, most people actually want to know more.
I’m in a band called The Last City, and our motto is “fight fear with curiosity,” and I want to put forth the challenge to you (and myself) to continue these conversations. Groups like Mustang Heroes and FLOW are doing an amazing job of creating spaces where people can be curious and learn from their fellow humans, but it is up to us to make sure that they aren’t doing this alone. This is not about converting people to one side or another, this is not about being the loudest opinion in the room, this is about building relationships and, as a result, beginning to heal wounds.
So with that, my sistren, I say to you, go forth and be curious