Have you ever, in the quiet moments between you and your beloved, gazed at them from across the couch only to realize that they are gazing back at you? And as you smile at one another, legs entwined under a cozy blanket, books on your laps, think, "This is so wonderful... but would Gloria Steinem approve of us partnership? Is my relationship feminist?"
Full disclosure here: I am in a heterosexual marriage. (I'm a cis-lady, he's a cis-dude. Those are the very official, technical sociological terms, obviously: "cis-lady"/"cis-dude".) I do not feel I have sufficient experience or authority to speak to what feminism looks like in a relationship outside of that particular gender combination, so for the purposes of this article, I will be talking about feminist relationships in a cisgender/heterosexual relationship. And I know what you're thinking: "Well, um, OK, that's a bit limiting right out of the gate." Yes, it is. But I'm only one person who can only speak with any authority on the experiences and identities that I can claim, so we all just have to live with the inherent limitations with that. This isn't based on a desire to diminish or erase anyone else: it's based on my desire to respect that I wouldn't know WTF I'm talking about and I don't want to speak for groups to which I may not belong. (If you do know WTF you're talking about, please write that article, because I would read it and tweet it and everything.)
But I do know a thing or two about being in a feminist relationship, and let me tell you, it's the bee's knees. The cat's pajamas. The... something... belonging to... another animal. (Seriously, where do people come up with this turns of phrase?) Here are a few signs you know what I'm talking about.
There Are No Expectations As To Who Does What Based On Gender
You don't assume that your dude is going to change your oil any more than he expects you to sweep and cook. At least, you don't make these assumptions on the basis of gender. There is no "men's work" and "women's work." You might fall into those roles, but the idea of chore swapping isn't a big deal at all. He's happy to do a load of laundry while you rake leaves. You're more than willing to take out the drill gun and fix that crooked shelf once and for all while he puts the baby down for a nap.
There Is An Equitable Division Of Labor
Typically, men do less housework than women, regardless of who works outside of the home and who doesn't. Feminist couples know this and fight against it. (At the bare minimum, there is an honest effort on everyone's behalf.) Because we know that's crap. If we have kids, the stakes are raised because we desperately want to model a feminist relationship for our little ones so that they will come to expect it in their own relationships.
Who Makes More Money Really And Truly Does Not Matter
"Is your husband OK with you making more money than he does?"
I have never understood this concern, even before I identified as a feminist (a long, long time ago). Why would anyone care that their household income is higher because the other person makes more money? Unless the richer spouse is, like, putting $100 bills on a fishing line and dangling it just out of your reach to be a jerk, it's really a non-issue at least, and at best that person is sharing money with you in some way or another. Apparently, some people value outdated concepts of masculinity and self-worth more than they value common sense and literal money.
You Rant Together Regularly When You See Sexism Rear Its Ugly Head
Whether you see a sexist commercial, read about the latest legislative attack on Planned Parenthood, or see someone post some horrible racist meme about Michelle Obama, you and your beau start singing the song of your people — the impassioned, indignant song of your people — and it is glorious. Sometimes you fall into a Feminist Rage Black Hole. It's like a Wiki Black Hole, you know, when you look something up on Wikipedia and that article leads you to another article, which leads you to another article until before you know it it's 3 a.m. and you cannot for the life of you figure out why you're reading an article about carrier pigeons. Feminist Rage Black Holes start when you get mad about one thing, which leads you to remember a related horrible thing, and then another, and another, and before you know it a conversation about Trump has turned into an angry letter to M. Night Shyamalan for whitewashing The Last Airbender.
You Empower One Another
When you're in a relationship with another feminist, the confidence building and empowerment potential is amazing. It's like living a performance of The Vagina Monologues 24/7. And, like, a really good production of The Vagina Monologues: one where Emma Watson does "Because He Liked To Look At It" and Uzo Aduba performs "The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could." (Holy crap. Universe, you need to make this happen.) It's all about praising one another for standing up against the Patriarchy and realizing your full human potential!
Work-Life Balance Is A Concern For Everyone
If you have a baby with a feminist (I did, twice, and it's awesome), the idea of "maternity leave" is sort of a misnomer because you're both very concerned about your role as a parent. "Family leave" is definitely the more appropriate term. Unfortunately, paternity leave policies in the U.S. have not caught up with your lofty (and completely reasonable and practical) ideals. Hell, maternity leave policies in the U.S. suck, but they're better than what most new fathers are offered. As such, childcare is necessarily handled primarily by the mother at first, which sets the tone for how things will continue from there on out. It often takes a concerted effort not to fall into standard paradigms of childcare, but feminist couples know it's worth the effort.
Non-Feminist Relationships Confuse You
Because why would anyone have it any other way?
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