Babes – Share this handy guide with your boyfriend or partner to help them (better) understand how men can be feminists, too.
So your girlfriend or partner is a feminist? If she showed you this article — or even if you found it yourself — we trust that you’re a good guy, but maybe you need just a little help or a refresher. Maybe you learned how to be a good boyfriend from your dad, your older brother, a childhood buddy. You learned how to be a chivalrous gentleman: you’re respectful and honest, you bring flowers on the first date, you open the car door for her, etc.
But when it comes to dating a feminist, there’s a big question mark. Can you still do everything you were taught, or is she supposed to get the flowers and open the door for you? Are you allowed to be a feminist, too?
Don’t worry. We’ve got you covered. Yes, men can be feminists too, here’s how:
When your partner complains about her coworker who refused to use her ideas, or about the catcaller at the mall, or how she laces her keys between her fingers to stay safe walking home at night… listen. Though you may not understand, take the time to hear her out. And don’t try to solve her problems for her — again, listen. Ask her what she needs, how you can help, or ask more questions to understand her perspective.
Openly communicate relationship dynamics
Just because your partner is a feminist, doesn’t necessarily mean that she always hates traditional roles and expectations. While she might be open to paying for dates, some feminists think it’s romantic for her partner to pay for the first date. Some feminists always go dutch. In terms of household duties, some women (myself included) prefer to clean the whole house just because they want to do it their way. On the flipside, you may love to cook, while your partner burns toast. Have an open conversation about what you and your partner prefer and are willing to do.
Believe in her power to choose
Yes, this includes reproductive rights, but it’s not all we’re talking about. Respect your partner’s power to choose what is best for herself in all aspects of her life. Her wardrobe, her diet, her career, and more are all up to her. While she’ll likely be welcome to your input on some things and there will likely be choices that you need to make together, make sure that the choices about her life are ultimately up to her.
Share responsibility of contraceptives
Be open about your expectations for safer sex practices.
For condoms, you may have a certain brand and style that feels comfortable to you, but consider that she may have a certain brand that she prefers. Remember, condoms and lube go inside vulvas and vaginas, meaning there may be higher stakes involved when your partner selects condoms. After negotiating brands, make sure you both have a supply (if you live separately) and equally monetarily contribute to purchasing safer sex supplies.
If your partner chooses to use contraceptives like the pill, ring, IUD, injection, implant, or patch, recognize that this may be a large risk to your partner who may experience uncomfortable side-effects. Be understanding of this experience and defer to the first piece of advice on this list if she shares any complaints with you.
If you are in a long-term relationship and her contraceptives aren’t fully covered by insurance, consider going halfsies on the cost of her contraceptives. And if you ever have to use emergency contraceptives, consider splitting the cost of this purchase as well.
Do your own research
Make sure that you aren’t depending on your partner or other women in your life to educate you on feminism. Do some independent work yourself. Doing something as simple as reading a few articles from Babe with the Power, Bustle, Ms., Refinery 29, or Bitch can be helpful in updating you on the latest feminist news. Following a few feminist figures, reading feminist books, watching feminist movies, or listening to feminist podcasts can help encorporate learning about feminism into your every day life. Trust me, she’ll be very impressed when you pull out a feminist fun fact or start talking about feminist news on your next date.
Know (or learn) that feminism is for you too
That’s right, feminism is for EVERYBODY!!! (*Insert Oprah shouting, “You get some feminism, and you get some feminism,” here*)
Yes, feminism does focus on women because, in most areas of life, women are more disadvantaged and face more gender-based discrimination than men.
Though it’s not brought to light as often, feminism does look at the ways in which men face more issues than women. Feminists want men to be able to feel less shame about seeking mental health access, to reduce pressure for men to be sole breadwinners, to help men to connect with their children, and more!
Balance your compliments
Yes, you probably think your girlfriend is the prettiest girl in the room. And, yes, you probably wish you could look at her all day. But you also like her for other reasons too, right? Show her that by switching up the way you compliment her. Next date night, you may love the way she looks when you see her. Compliment her look when you pick her up. At dinner, talk about how proud you are of her effort at work or how she aced her test. Compliment her kindness or her ambition. Later during the night, feel free to hype up her power in the bedroom. 😉
Have Equitable and Consensual Sex
Cis women are reported to experience less pleasure during sex than cis men. There’s a lot of reasons for this, but you can help be part of the solution for your partner. Studies have shown that couples are often too focused on the Big O, leading to less pleasurable sex (shocking, I know, but stick with us.) People are too focused on getting to the big finale, that they forget to really enjoy the big lead-up. Next time you and your partner have sex, use your time for exploring and communicating. Check on each other throughout to make sure you’re both having a good time (and to make sure everything is consensual.) And, most importantly, don’t forget the power of the clitoris!!!
Don’t be afraid to call yourself a feminist
It’s not a dirty word, gents. As long as you believe in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes, you’re a feminist. Own it and wear that badge with pride!
Have more advice for our feminist fellas? Drop your tips in the comments below!
About The Author
Bailey Shea (@baileykshea on Instagram) is a recent graduate of the University of Connecticut, having received a Bachelor of Arts in English and Communication with a minor in Women’s Studies. She is a strong feminist who hopes to use her future career in publishing and marketing to magnify unheard voices. Outside the writing world, Bailey is an aspiring powerlifter, the human embodiment of a sunflower, and a Taco Bell connoisseur. You can find more of her work at baileykshea.com.