Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ode to my Feminist Valentine

I like that my husband is a feminist. I don't know if he spends a lot of time self-identifying that way, but he is.

The best part about Spouseman's feminism? It stems from my favorite Dan character trait: kindness. My husband is a kind person, and his feminism stems from a genuine desire to treat people nicely.

Nice people don't make sexist jokes about women, don't think they own their bodies, and genuinely want people to be happy. For lots of people, being happy means equal opportunity to pursue interests and careers they like. Dan gets to do that with his job, and wants other people to do that too.

 So for him, feminism is natural. He is kind to women because he sees them as people, not as some weird "other" that exists solely to please him.

When I think about how Dan treats people, I wonder why some people have such a hard time with feminism. It's basically just not being a dick, to everyone. How are we all not on board?

I started to realize my husband was a feminist when I noticed what TV shows he liked. My husband likes Star Trek, where women can be authority figures and do hard things. (Look, I get that Star Trek has a shitload of gender and race issues, but for the time period, it has some pretty progressive stuff.) Furthermore, he absolutely loves Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

That's the thing about feminism. Even though it starts out with simply being decent to people by giving them equal opportunities, a real feminist is someone who doesn't get all squirrelly when equal opportunity means that sometimes a woman is in charge, sometimes even in charge of men. 

I don't think Spouseman started watching Buffy and thought "I really like that this woman is in charge of saving the universe, and often her boyfriend." But it didn't make him uncomfortable, and that's an important step: feminists don't feel uncomfortable with women being in charge. Sometimes even women are uncomfortable with women being in charge. We are socially conditioned to adopt roles as care-givers and nurturers so we become really good at it at a young age. We worry about being a bitch when we tell people what to do. The idea or re-wiring decades of learned behaviors is scary as hell.

But it wasn't scary to Spouseman, and I like that.

Like lots of people, I think Spouseman could relate to Buffy. Buffy feels alone and isolated a lot of the time. She doesn't fit in with her peers, and she feels a lot of stress trying to find a balance between work-life balance. These are things everyone, not just men, or not just women, can relate to. Dan's a feminist because he doesn't think gender makes people so different that they can't understand each other.

Even though Dan is a different gender from Buffy, even though he can't relate to some of her issues, ("Does my hair look okay?" Buffy asks after a particularly gruesome slay...) he relates to her as a human.

That's what equality looks like. Seeing and respecting people's differences, but relating and empathizing with the common humanity that unites us.

And just not being a dick to people, okay?

Spouseman is not a dick. He's a nice guy. He's a feminist. So he feels perfectly comfortable watching Gilmore Girls and Buffy and even Charmed. I like that. I think it is sexy as hell. Maybe that's how we get people on board with feminism. Feminism is sexy! Wait. That sort of reduces people to their bodies and assumes all people (especially men) want in life is sex. I think that's the opposite of where we are going. So scratch that. Maybe. Probably. Feminism!


  1. It's so funny you say that about conditioning to adopt caregiver roles. I do think on some level women are more naturally empathic, and that quality lends itself better to caregiving.

    I'm disagreeing with that statement in my head but will get distracted from my point if I type out those thoughts.

    I say "it's interesting you say that" because the last two years or so I've been trying to recondition myself to stop apologizing so much (okay, only vaguely related) when I return a call/email/text late, when I express an unpopular opinion, etc.

    Or prefacing statemtents with "I think XYZ". Like, "I think using the phrase 'I think' sounds like I think I couldn't possibly be an authority on whatever I think."

    I just took over your comment section. BAM.

  2. Ha, Can you take over the comment section of a blog that has three readers (one being a spambot?)

    I was never particularly nurturing (still not, in many ways,) and my spouse is innately a great caregiver. But I was certainly conditioned to THINK that I was supposed to be a really good caregiver, but never to be assertive or an authority figure.

    Not saying your observation is wrong though, just different than my experience.

    I apologize, and say "I think" ALL the time. I really should stop.