I’m just sayin’
Typical conversation starters: new haircut, the weather, sports, a meme on twitter, etc.
Unpopular conversation starters: Danica Patrick, Nickleback, feminism, menstruating, etc.
Why menstruating you may ask? Glad you brought up the conversation!
However, that is not necessarily the subject of this article. In daily life, we need to be talking about topics that are currently deemed as “uncomfortable” or “crude” in order to normalize and validate them. For example, if we talk about women’s oppression more, more people will see it as less of a phenomenon and more of a real, important subject.
Let me approach this as less of a feminist and more as a conversationalist. Many of us, as I’m sure, love a good conversation about one’s passions and convictions. But why then are some passions or concerns seen as less appropriate to talk about? Although in saying that, I do agree that the factors of your environment and who you are talking to change what is or isn’t appropriate. In this case, I’m talking less about nuances and more about general friendly or family conversations. These are average every day conversations that should be had but aren’t based on societal stigma’s surrounding those certain topics.
For example, talking about race and gender issues are hard conversations, but they don’t have to be. Opening that door regularly can help spread awareness and even help people develop empathy for those with dissimilar opinions. Everyone has a reason for their beliefs, but its important to discover and discuss with others in order to widen one’s perspective within the world.
I personally always try to push the envelop with conversations. I attempt to have conversations involving what may be touchy subjects for most, in a way that makes them feel comfortable or normal. It’s not always easy and it may start up arguments or even make some people offended, but it can also result in healthy dialogue. You have the ability to control the outcome most of the time, it just boils down to how you say it.
The best way to introduce a subject is when you bring up a current event or even a controversial famous person. By the conversation starter being relatable just based on popularity, it gives the necessary tools to develop a full blown conversation. The show 60 Minutes does a good job of bringing current controversial events to the television sets of thousands in order to start those important conversations within the home. And they do it in an unbiased way by just showing rather than telling. And that is a good way to start a conversation. Just present a topic and let the other person or people pick it up and run with it. If they try to run away from it, however, they may just not be ready for it, which brings up another conversation… (pun intended)
You can try to introduce a topic into conversation and get someone to face it, but you cannot force them to. Based upon personal experience in this area, some people are just not able to talk about certain things. It is possible that they are just not ready or maybe it’s a trigger to an unhappy personal experience. Or they could become harsh or even have potential to be abusive about it; therefore, defintely drop the subject. As a women who is pro-social justice, I know sometimes you really want someone to face the music, but for your own safety and theirs, you can’t always have those conversations. You have to recognize the potential areas of concern that come with the territory. Be smart about it, in other terms.
And that being said, going back to earlier, you do have to be aware of your environment and who you are speaking to. But if it is safe and in an environment where the topic doesn’t offend professional practice, I believe it is perfectly acceptable to start conversations about sexuality, gender, race, mental health, bodily processes, etc. Until we normalize these topics, there will still be stigmas surrounding them. And if it is uncomfortable to you, then you are unfortunately adding to that.
Popular conversation starters are so boring anyways. Try to spice up some conversations. Example 1: turn your average talk with dad about your day into a healthy talk about gender roles. Example 2: ask your friend about her style and how she thinks society interprets it. You’d be surprised the amount of interesting and insightful feedback you can attain from these simple implementations.
From my own experience, I have had some amazing conversations with a large array of humans about their difference experiences and opinions and I’m only getting better at starting them. It can be fun and you walk away with a little more wisdom every time.
I’m just sayin’.