I originally posted this on Bloom Time, but thought it belonged here, too.
I recently read this article from Marie Claire.
It's called, "My Feminist Boyfriend: the man who loves womyn" subheading: "She's a feminist, but so is her guy — which brings up interesting explorations of the idea of being treated like a lady and traditional gender roles"
Gag. Here's how I might re-write it:
When a fancy new French restaurant opened in our neighborhood, my fiance and I commented to each other that we should go there and try it. We love food and hanging out together. I wasn't particularly interested in what I would wear-- he seems to think I look wonderful in everything-- and I didn't give a shit how we would pay--I knew we would either split it or he would pay (my grad school salary doesn't allow for me to pick up the bill very often). The important thing was enjoying an activity that we both love to do (eating fancy food) and doing it together.
Do I like to get dressed up from time to time? Yes. But, usually we walk somewhere and my guy finds it sexier when I can walk with him, free of patriarchy's punishment of high heeled shoes.
I am a feminist. And, like many third-wavers, I cherry-pick my battles — no to Howard Stern and the C word, yes to shaving my legs and underarms, yes to knee-high boots and fun dresses from time to time. And yes to resisting the urge to fit into some image of woman that isn't me.
My guy doesn't know he's a feminist. He's never taken a class that features feminist theory. He couldn't discern the difference between second and third wave feminism. He couldn't discuss Judith Butler or probably even Betty Friedan.
But what he can do is easily and adeptly treat me as his true equal. We split the housework into the things we're good at, or who has more time. He isn't handy. At all. I fix things around the house because I am. We do our own laundry. We take turns doing the dishes (although he always washes the big pans because I hate it.) He sweeps and sometimes mops the kitchen. I clean the bathroom. We take turns cooking, and usually go grocery shopping together, though lately, when I'm stressed with school, he takes those daily tasks over.
But his feminism goes beyond splitting our daily tasks. He respects my ideas, my choices, my requests and my perspective. He might not actively decry diamond commercials on TV for their inherent heteronormativity and patriarchy involved, but he knows he doesn't like them.
When I gain weight, he helps me figure out a plan for eating healthier and working out more so that I can be healthier, not (necessarily) skinnier. He thinks I'm beautiful always and lets me know. He doesn't "treat me like a lady" because neither of us think that makes sense, but he treats me like a partner who he adores. He is attentive to me, thinks about me when we're apart, sometimes buys gifts and sometimes does arrange for romantic weekends. But, I do that for him too.
Being a male feminist isn't a contradiction in terms as some people seem to think it is, just as being a woman doesn't make you a feminist.
Believing in gender equality, paying attention, recognizing the structural obstacles placed in the way of many women as a result of patriarchal culture, and often resisting and expressing such things makes one a feminist, in my opinion. My guy does these things whether he knows he is or not and that makes our relationship better. For both of us.