Feminist Men – Patrick Abellard

Blog Post by Cristina Cugliandro, Sept. 5, 2018

All of the interviews in our Feminist Men Blog series are uncensored and unedited. We did not impose a structure and allowed the conversations to take natural turns. In some cases, interviews ran long and contained too many questions to include in the post. Therefore, the only curating that took place was in the interest of the length of the article. Enjoy!

“Like, you’re sitting in a fuzzy chair, and I come in your house and say ‘don’t sit in that fuzzy chair, it’s bad for you.’ You say ‘it’s my house, my fuzzy chair, get the fuck out. You know where the door is.’ You know what I’m saying? So I think that the longer you’ve lived in that house, the harder it is for me to come up to you and say ‘that fuzzy chair is bad for you.”

Excerpts from a conversation with the irreplaceable Patrick Abellard

C: …The destruction of the word, and the continued destruction of the word… and feminazis, like who the fuck invented feminazis?  I don’t even know what that means… Do these people know what a nazi is?!

P: I think that a lot of times human beings have issues with words. I’ve known this for a long time, but, connotations like feminism now become misconstrued and misinformed… I find it’s the same thing with the word Black people. African American, people of African heritage…all these goddamn nomenclatures. I don’t give a rat’s ass. I really don’t. You call me Black, African American, whatever the hell you want. My color has nothing to do with what I believe is right for the world. I think that people get so attached… it’s like religion, people get obsessed and confused. Feminism, you know, pro-black, pro-aboriginal, you know, whatever it is, it’s all about equal rights… “If you say something I think is unacceptable to me, and I go ‘well, let’s talk about that’ then you present points to me, and I present points to you, and all in calmness we get somewhere, I think that’s the only way. That’s how I’ve always dealt with those things, even with people I didn’t know.”

C: What do you do in your everyday practice to address opposing ideas to yours.

P: Have the tough conversations.

C: How do you even approach them though?

P: I’ll give you an example. My best friend from when I was seven years old, recently in the last two years we… I distanced myself from him because he was starting – we always made racist jokes. He’s a white, hetero man. His father’s very rich. So, I went to private school my whole life – there’s a certain setting right, of privilege, and just of bullshit really. It was funny as all fun and games. I would always tell my friends, yeah tell me racists jokes, I think they’re funny. Cause I did not identify with those things. As I grew older, I realized it wasn’t about me, it was about the general idea. If that person thinks they can do that with me and they go over there and do it, it’s detrimental to everybody. So, my friend started making really racist jokes… especially when I would hang out with him and another white friend. They would just- you know- they’d go to town. And I was like ‘I don’t like this vibe. I’m done with that’. So I distanced myself because I did not know how to have that conversation with somebody I knew since I was seven. How do I walk up to you and go ‘by the way, you’re being racist.’ And clearly he loves me, so how do I reconcile that? Two weeks ago, we were in the car, and he just went, ‘Why is it that you didn’t hang out with me?’ We’re in the car. I can’t go anywhere. I’m stuck. I’m shocked – so I go, ‘What do you mean?’ He goes ‘I mean exactly that, why?’ I was like, alright, this is the time for the conversation. Right, cause, there will not be another occasion. And I said, ‘I’m gonna be honest with you, there are certain comments that you started making, that made me tremendously uncomfortable. And you sort of became somebody that I wasn’t happy with. And I love you. I really, really love you, and I think that’s why this is very difficult for me – this was very difficult.’ And, you know, he was like ‘damn. I thought that mighta been it.’ And he was just like ‘well, you know, I’m sorry, and, if ever something like that happens again, like, just talk to me. Just tell me about it.’ I was like ‘I will from now on.’ Sometimes you just gotta. Sometimes you just gotta go about having the tough conversation. ‘I feel like it’s more of a human thing than a feminist thing in a sense where, I feel like the individuals – the women that I know that are feminist- say things to me that have more to do with how human beings behave than how men and women individually should behave. And I’m a firm believer that all the answers we seek are within ourselves individually.’

C: How do you choose which battles to fight?

P: You help people who want to be helped. That’s what I believe. So, if I’m having a conversation with somebody, and it becomes painfully clear to me that that person is no longer willing to listen, or did not come into this conversation thinking that they would ever change their mind, I desist.

C: You just let go.

P: Absolutely. Absolutely.

C: But what happens to those people?

P: They continue to live like they always have.

C: But we can’t fly them to Mars – they’re still a problem.

P: Unfortunately. But the fact of the matter is we don’t get to make those choices. We don’t get to control those people….It’s easier to say ‘fuck everything’ and be destructive than it is to come together and say ‘I love you’ and be vulnerable. It’s so much easier to be angry, than to be like ‘I’m hurt’. And I think most people are …they feel very powerless, and hurt. P: The fact of the matter is people are insecure so –and they get anxious and confused. But if you tell them ‘you’re a human being. Be the best version of yourself,” then it becomes very clear who really wants to, to see the world become a better place, and who doesn’t. And that should be the only real division. Honestly. Then, we don’t need to go to war, we just need to like, work with the people who continue to spread the positive forces until, whoo, all of the land is covered in, the virus of awesomeness. You know?

C: (haha) Yes. (haha) C: But we can’t even get past feminism. We have hate speech coming out of everywhere, and people who are allowing it, constantly, and it seems like a fucking cycle.

P: I think we’re fighting a war on many fronts. And the hate speech, is not sprouted from – it didn’t become, it’s not magically there. There’s a social war, there’s a class war, there is a race war. There are so many goddamn wars. I think, to go through all those wars, is to think ‘what really creates war?.’ It’s when people go ‘the other’. I think.

C: Yeah, absolutely.

P: Once we stop looking at the whole of humanity as a family… wait, people have never been that way. Because we’ve never been that way, we’re always at odds with one another. No matter what.

C: It’s profitable

P: It is profitable. Divide and conquer. Alexander Great did cool things for himself.

C: For himself. Well put.

P: For himself. The Roman Empire figured it out, all these people who want power and all that crap. But – then what?  “…The idea can never be to eradicate anything, because, Rien ne se perd, rien ne se crée, tout se transforme. So if we transform what’s already here, we bring the newness, and we bring it together, that’s where we need to go. If we divide as two entities like, people who are patriarchal and people who are feminist, we never create the space for everyone.”

C: Do you see a difference between, your friends who are women, and your friends who are men, do you see a difference in terms of how you communicate. Do you communicate about the same things but differently?

P: For a long time most of my friends were girls. The conversations I was able to have with these women, were, so much more fulfilling than ‘dude did you see the football game?’ ‘I did, I don’t care.’ ‘I definitely did. I saw the whole game. It was great. I love Adrian Peterson, he’s the best.’ Then what? You know, flowers and more cars. Fuck that. Talk to me about how you feel about your situation on this earth – where do you think we’re going? Now maybe I’m too intense about it. But I think that, I think that, what’s the point of sitting around talking about man-made bullshit? Let’s talk about what we can do. What we can create together.  

Patrick Abellard is a 23 year old graduate from the Professional Theatre Program, at Dawson College, in Montreal. His most notable project to date is his casting as a main character in Denys Arcand’s latest film: La chute de l’empire Americain, where he played Jacmel. He has played an Actor role in Xavier Dolan’s upcoming project: The Death and Life Of John F. Donovan. If you watched CBC’s police drama series: Bellevue you would have seen him as Jim. As for his most recent appearances in theatre, he was on the Centaur small stage in Urban Tales directed by Harry Standjofski, in December of last year and was in Fight On!; an Infinitheatre production directed by Guy Sprung this past February.