One of the big things that attracted me to my partner, from just about the first time I met him, was his unabashed, very vocal feminism. From issues ranging from abortion to airbrushing, he was engaged, opinionated, and just as angry as I was. Feminism has strengthened my relationship, sure, but moreover its laid the groundwork for how it operates and what we want it, our lives, and our world to be.
As a point of clarification, I can only really speak to my relationship here, and I suppose it's important to point out that I'm a cisgender woman in a relationship with a cisgender man. When you're talking about gender equality, I think it's probably important and fair to discuss the genders in question and, as a result, get a better idea of what a couple is likely working with, from the perspective of societal expectations.
Having said that, when it comes to those societal expectations, my and my husband's official stance is (basically) as follows: "LOL! Nah! Thanks, tho, dude!" In fact, we're both emphatic about it. In the light of what promises to be a terrifying four years (politically and likely socially) our mutual feminism has brought us even closer by giving us something to rally behind now more than ever: husband and wife against the Patriarchy. (I feel like this would be a great comic book. If anyone is interested, go ahead and give me a ring.)
However, even when we're not hellbent on bringing down "The Man," feminism has provided a solid (and fabulous) foundation for our relationship in the following ways:
We See Each Other As Equals
OK, I know it sounds really super basic, but the importance of being on equal footing in a relationship cannot be overstated. I feel like a lot of people assume they're equals in a relationship without really looking at their dynamic, beliefs, or the actually logistics of how they treat one another.
The whole point of feminism is "the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes." That is, in fact, the definition. So a commitment to feminism is, in turn, a commitment to a relationship based on mutual respect.
We Strive For An Equal Division Of Labor
Not to toot my own horn here, but I think this is something my partner and I are actually really good at. That's not to say chores, tasks, and other points of household management are always split evenly, but it's something we're both always aware of and proactively attempt to remain mindful of whenever we do something or ask each other to do something.
Frankly, even the fact that we both try makes the relationship better, because it lets the other person know, "I appreciate what we have together, I see the work you do to make this all possible, and I want both of us to contribute." Feminist or not, knowing you are seen and appreciated is clutch in any healthy relationship.
The Same Things Make Us Angry And We Can Bond In That Anger
My husband and I joke that watching an hour-long news program or documentary takes us about an hour-and-a-half, because we constantly have to pause and rant in chorus about what bothers us.
This system (I need to come up for a term for it. Rage Stereo, maybe?) works for us, because we each have a raging, feminist volcano deep within our souls, and those things are erupting constantly. It's nice to have someone there to help clean up the molten lava. Other people, I assume, would find this maddening. (Don't worry, we reign it in at parties and other social gatherings. Usually. Sometimes. Well, we try, so whatever.)
Rejection Of Rigid Gender Roles And Expectations Enables Us To Be More Authentically Ourselves
I'm not at all trying to claim that my husband and I have intellectually risen above the influence of gender in American society. In fact, I would be hard-pressed to find a person who is completely unaffected by gender in some way or another.
However, the fact that both my husband and I constantly question, pick apart, and call shenanigans on gender expectations at least helps us separate what about our personalities and choices is gender performance as dictated by external forces and what is just us: who we are at our core. It allows my husband to say things like, "Men aren't supposed to show emotions, but that's bullsh*t, so I'm going to hug and kiss my son." Life is hard enough without having to live under the burden of someone else's baggage.
Feminist And Sex-Positive Sex = The Best Sex
I don't want to get overly personal here, you guys. I'm just sayin'.
We're On The Same Page About Raising Our Son And Daughter
Deciding how to raise children can be really hard. In so many instances, there's no right or wrong but a million and seven options, so how do you know what to go with?
At least, with this one little corner of parenting, monsieur and I are of a like mind. We're not assuming anything about our children's interests, wardrobes, or personalities based exclusively on our gender. We don't have to debate or argue it. We're both feminists, and we just know we want to raise our kids by feminist principles.
Our Conversations Get Really Interesting
Feminists are, by nature, "thinky." We think and examine and dissect and question a lot. Frankly, having such rigorous and spirited discussions about the gender dynamics within this country's politics is far livelier and more compelling than limiting our conversation to what's for dinner tomorrow night. An engaged brain makes for an engaged spouse.
Feminism Has Made The World In General Better
Whether you're a man, a woman, neither, or both, feminism has very likely had a positive influence on your life. (Imagine! The principle that everyone is equal could help everyone. Who ever could have guessed such a thing?!)