Feminism and Heterosexual Relationships

During my first year of college I went through a major culture shock. Growing up in a small town in Texas, feminism was not a concept I was surrounded by, but it was always something I had on my mind. Why were men supposed to be the head of the household? Why were men in charge of the church? Why was it okay for the “boys to be boys” and sleep around, but the girls were slut-shamed and called names? So, when I arrived at Pepperdine, a campus with more women than men, I felt the feminism radiating in the air. I am powerful here. I have value here. But this quickly turned into “boys are the worst,” “men are trash,” and “women are greater than men.” As a feminist and just a woman in general, it can be difficult to remember the point. I want to be clear and say that this is NOT the message feminism is supposed to portray. Some boys are the worst and some girls are the worst. Some men are trash and some women are trash. Women and men are equals. Seeing the news full of “old, white men” doing terrible things puts a bad image in our minds, a stereotypical image. The world is full of bad men and bad women who do bad things, but it is also full of good men and good women who do good things.

Photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash

This has specifically affected me in my romantic relationships. I had this mindset that as a feminist it was my duty to do whatever I want whenever I want without the need to even discuss this with my significant other. But, I was wrong. The point of a romantic relationship is to help, learn, and grow together as equals and you cannot do that without thorough communication. So, I would like to squash a few bugs that have affected my mindset:

  1. You are allowed to let a man take care of you. It is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength. You are displaying your vulnerability to another human being and putting your heart in their hands. It is brave to ask for help from someone, even a *gasp* man when you need it. Let him hold the door open for you. Let him buy your dinner. If you want your man to be a gentleman, that is perfectly acceptable.

  2. You are allowed to be wrong. If your significant other disagrees with you about something, it is because we are all human and do not always share the same opinions about things. A man telling you that you are wrong does not always mean he is being misogynistic, it might just mean, ahem, you are wrong.

  3. You cannot blame a man for having privilege, but you can blame him for abusing that privilege. People are either born into or create their privilege. Society is wrong for allowing privilege, but a singular person is not. If you see your significant other abusing their privilege, call him out, but do not simply call him out for having the privilege that he did not ask for nor does he abuse.

When in a relationship, it is important to discuss and consent to what you want and need. It is important to agree on what your relationship will hold. This means anything goes, whatever both of you equally agree upon. 

Do not misunderstand what I am trying to say here. Sexism is real. Feminism is necessary, but we cannot miss the real point of it: equality. Equality does not come from stereotyping, blaming, or hating. It comes from open-mindedness, understanding, and loving. Some men are overbearing and display too much dominance. Some men are misogynistic. Men do have privilege over women. Women have been victims of sexism for a long time and more abundantly than men, but men have been victims too and still are today, just like women. So I personally, and maybe other people who read this article, need to stop assuming and start asking. Women and men are equals and it is our job to prove it because if we don’t this could turn in the opposite direction.