In class the other night, I was talking to a few of my other women classmates and they were asking me a bit about my papers (good wife and literacy) for both classes, since both of them have to do with feminism. Somehow, probably since they know I am in a relationship, the question came up about whether or not feminism is either contrary to having a relationship or if it makes having a relationship more difficult.
In my case, currently, my feminist status is actually attractive to my boyfriend. Admittedly, he did have an issue with the fact that I will not change my name when I get married, but that was very early on in the relationship and we have since discussed the issue and came to a resolution (which is that I will not change my name. This, in my opinion, is a sign in and of itself that we will have a successful relationship – not because he “lets” me do whatever I want, but because he respects the things that mean a lot to me.) Other than that, he likes my independence and he always participates actively in discussions I have with him about feminism, usually saying things like “Wow, I never knew it was so hard for women…” He respects me, and he respects all women. So, honestly, now my feminism does not interfere with my relationship. In fact, it makes the relationship better.
I cannot say that has been the case throughout my whole dating experience, however. There have been plenty of times that I’ve told a man that he needed to stop treating me like a little girl who needed his constant protection, that I wouldn’t change my name when I got married, or that I consider myself a feminist. My saying these things has caused many a man to flee. Even some that I thought I could marry couldn’t – or refused to – understand my feminism, and it was a surprise to find that out every time.
So, I wonder, does the way feminism works into a relationship depend on how the man understands or reacts to it? Does it depend on the way the woman presents it? Is it something else?
Has your status as a feminist ever gotten in the way of your relationships? If you are in a successful relationship after several failed ones, what changed?
I’m excited to hear your stories.