I get all kinds of crap for how I run my business. Most of it rolls off my back. After all, haters gonna hate! The one thing that actually gets under my skin, though, is when people say I’m sexist or not a feminist. I’m a single woman who runs her own business. Of course I’m a feminist! Does my strategy for romance acknowledge certain gender-based relationship norms? Of course it does! But, only because they’re the norm. Meaning normally that’s what my clients want and expect. I’ve also matched super progressive couples who were less traditional. Truly, my business is a service. So, I give my clients what works for them. That being said, feminism and gender equality have been becoming bigger and bigger elements in so many parts of society. I’m totally here for it! However, there are challenges that come with gender equality, especially in personal spaces. I’ve been hearing more and more women needing support and guidance on how to bring feminism into their relationships with men. Here are my tips.
Recognize the current
Like I said, the feminist movement is making a lot of headway. But, we’re not in a fully equal society yet and I think we’re way further behind in the personal spheres than we are in public spheres. So, it’s fine to be frustrated that your expectations aren’t being met, but also know that you’re working against decades of socialization on your end and his. Not to mention, millennia of sexism. Just recognize the weight of the boulder you’re trying to move – and we’re all trying to move together – and know it’s not going to be easy. It will certainly be worth it, though.
Talk to your man about what you’re feeling and what you want. I told one of my friends to do that and she was like, “This is part of it! I’m in charge of our emotional talks and I want him to bring it up!” While I get that feeling, communication on this topic isn’t optional. And if he’s not intuitive enough to know when to talk, do you really think he’d going to fully understand all of your thoughts and feelings without you explaining them to him?
Realize you may manage
At least at first, you may be asking your man to do work around the house, caretaking for your kids or picking up the slack on your relationship. The fact that you have to ask him means that you’re in charge and he’s “helping.” And that’s annoying because it’s not a true partnership. It’s you being the boss and him basically being a new employee you’re helping with his responsibilities. But, like I said above, men have generally been socialized to not know how to do this kind of work. So, you need to teach him and manage him at first. Eventually, he should be able to handle this type of stuff alone, without you asking or managing. But, getting to that point takes a lot of doing. It’s not fair that you have to work so hard for equality, but it just is how it is.
Outsource what you can
If you have the money, get help with the work at home. I know this only applies to those with the means, but outsourcing is so helpful if you’re able to do it. Getting professionals who can take some work off of your plate as a couple means there’s less to manage, less to fight over and less to make equal. I’d even think about assessing your budget to see what type of changes you can make to be able to responsibly afford outside help. For example, if you need to skip a vacation so you can pay a cleaning service to come to your place once a month for a year, I think that’s really worth it.
Bringing feminism – or more feminism – into your relationship isn’t going to be easy for your or for him. So, make the most of what you do accomplish. Be sure you let him know that you appreciate every single small step he takes. And treat yourself when you feel like you’ve made progress. Positive reinforcement is hugely motivating. Lean on it to help both of you continue on this path.
Know it’s important
I’ve said it a bunch of times in this post and about a million times to my friends and clients – this type of thing isn’t going to be easy. But, it’s important. When you’re feeling the struggle in a major way, keep reminding yourself that you’re doing important work. It’s going to benefit your relationship, your family and your community. And of course it’s going to help the world. Empowering one woman – and yes, I mean empowering yourself here – is big, worthwhile, important stuff. Don’t forget that!
Feminism is complicated and how you apply it to your relationship is personal and can change from life phase to life phase. As long as you’re trying to do what’s best for you and your relationship, you’re doing feminism right. So, keep at it and please, keep me posted on how it’s going.