A Little Contextualization:
I decided to write this post because relationships, at any stage in an individual’s life, are difficult to navigate. As a heterosexual, cis-gendered woman, I acknowledge that my sexuality and gender identification are more easily understood. However, I feel that my identification as a feminist throws up caution flags for possible suitors who may not fully understand feminism, or fear that because of it I will feel a compulsive need to emasculate them and dominate my relationships. The following is a brief explanation for why heterosexual men may benefit from including feminisms into their relationships.
Feminist Relationships Allow for:
1. Increased Communication
- As explained by Erin McKelle in her article “Relationship Social Norms Vs. Feminist Ideals” in Everyday Feminism, “Women and feminine-presenting people aren’t supposed to be active in relationships” When people aim at including feminisms into their relationships, women, and feminine-presenting individuals are encouraged to take increased ownership and initiative in their relationships.
- Implications: Feminine-presenting individuals will be empowered to ask for what they want, removing some of the guess-work their partners may do when trying to figure out how to pique the interest of their counterparts, plan dates, or even establish the boundaries and expectations those involved have of each other.
2. Renegotiation of Expectations
- At different points in an individuals life, and due to various factors- religious, cultural, gender expression, orientation etc. people seek out different kinds of relationships. Due to the fact that patriarchal societies have expectations that delineate that relationships SHOULD be exclusive, SHOULD be heterosexual, SHOULD end in marriage (and when marriages are ideal), that their aim SHOULD be to procreate and a whole host of others, it is even more difficult to navigate the relationship-scene. Certain lifestyles, and personalities prefer alternate types of relationships (WHICH IS TOTALLY NORMAL AND OKAY), and feminist relationships allow for both partners to explicitly explain what they expect to get out of their relationships.
- Implication: When expectations are clear, from the beginning, and are up for renegotiation between partners, the success of relationships are heightened, because expectations are clear.
3. Sexual Freedom
- Sure, people in college and their twenty-somethings have greater freedom to explore different kinds of relationships, but that ends, at least for most women, it ends in their early thirties. In feminist relationships, as Erin McKelle explains,“Feminism calls for all genders to be able to express their sexualities and have sex the way that they please, as long as consent is always present (and able to be given).”
- Implication: Men may benefit from denouncing the slut-virgin dichotomy by allowing their partners to feel more free in expressing their sexual desires, and more comfortable having them as sexual partners.
4. More Room for Individuality
- Feminists acknowledge how repressive the rigid, patriarchal, expectations of masculinity can be for the men, and male-presenting individuals in their lives. On her blog Presence of Mind, Shawn Meghan Burn published “Men Need Have No Fear That Feminists Are Near“. In this article, she wrote “Aspects of traditional masculinity are not a good fit for many men. Some aspects are unhealthy (like the emphasis on emotional control, aggression, and risk-taking), and some masculine ideals (like physical size and strength, high earnings, etc.) are out of reach for many men. This creates a great deal of distress”.
- Implications: By including feminisms into relationships, the pressure that many men have to out-earn their partners,infinitely assert their masculinity through sometimes-dangerous or impulsive actions is alleviated. In addition, men will be more free to express their emotions to their partners without fear of being seen as weak, or less-attractive. Feminist relationships will allow for men to have more room to express their humanity without the pressure of constantly reasserting their masculinity.
Feminists relationships benefit men. (Not that feminism must benefit men for them to value it, but it certainly is a plus!)