There's tons of information exchanged in those lusty-eyed days of the getting-to-know-you phase of a relationship. Staying up until the wee hours of the morning, passing stories of childhood back and forth, lingering over after-dinner drinks with tales of high school shenanigans — it's all part of the magic. But as time goes by the you may realize you don't share the same views on important topics like gender equality and women's rights. This means some hard conversations are ahead, so best to be prepared for what to do if you realize your partner isn't a feminist.
Those rose-colored glasses can fog up pretty quickly when the reality sinks in that you and your SO aren't simpatico on your world views. A situation like this makes it easy to question everything and toss in the towel, but you don't have to. If you're invested in this relationship you should make your best attempt at educating and exposing your partner to what feminism is all about. You may find that with a little knowledge and guidance, they become more open to exploring this topic than you thought. And ultimately, with these six ideas, your partner will not only support feminism, but come to identify as a feminist as well.
1. Define It
Sadly, the meaning behind feminism has become tainted with the grumblings of those who feel threatened by its presence. I can't tell you how many uninformed people have made a "joke" about being a "man-hater" when they learn I have a degree in Women's Studies. Clearing up the meaning with a proper definition usually helps. The website for the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines feminism as, "the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes."
This straightforward explanation shows that at the core, feminism means gender equality on every level.
2. Share Your Personal Story
Get personal about what feminism means to you, and share your thoughts and feelings with your SO. You don't need an elaborate tale of what the movement has done for you — as long as you have a meaningful connection to feminism, you have a testimonial. Although it can be challenging to articulate emotions into words, do your best to point of ways feminism has empowered, encouraged, and motivated you in your life. Hearing how this impacts you so deeply will better help your partner to see why you've made it a priority.
3. Present The Facts
Provide some proof of the very real inequities that exist in our culture among the genders. Here are a few to get started with.
- The pay gap has only closed two points between 2004 and 2014 (from 76.6 percent to 78.6 percent), according to the National Committee on Pay Equity.
- The results of a 2014 survey of 2,000 people conducted by the website Stop Street Harassment found that 65 percent of all women had experienced street harassment in the United States.
- On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
4. Invite Them To Join You
If you belong to a feminist activist group (or are a member of one on social media), invite your partner along to experience the community firsthand. Sometimes meeting people and hearing their stories can open up your eyes with new perspective. Additionally, watching people in action for change is very motivating and inspiring, which will only drive your point home more.
5. Give Them Resources
6. Give Them Time
Based on past experiences and systematic biases, coming to feminism may not be a speedy transition for everyone. Give your partner time to process everything they're learning and don't become discouraged if they seem to be taking longer than you would like. Be patient and time will tell if their awareness is being raised. Keep in mind there is only so much you can do — you can't think for another human. Once you've done your part, it's time to let your partner identify as feminist in the best way they know how.
7. Go Your Own Way
The reality is, even though you made a hell of case for feminism, your partner might not be ready to change. Although it can be difficult, walking away from a person who doesn't support you and the causes you care about will benefit you in the long run. Know that your tried your hardest to make things work and educate your partner, but ultimately the decision to subscribe to a feminist mindset it something they have to want for themselves.