My partner and I have been together for nearly five years which puts us at 14 when we first started dating. I can’t think of one person who is fully-formed and educated in their opinions at 14 and we were no exception. I’ve always been interested in women’s rights, but at 14 I was in no place to call myself a feminist nor was my sweet boyfriend. The amount of times I used the word “slut,” believing it okay to pit women against one another or the problematic gender roles we believed in are appalling.
However, now at 19 and both enrolled in university, I think we are both proud to call ourselves feminists and have grown on our journey to understand and become better feminists. To educate ourselves, we’ve taken feminist courses, read feminist literature, participated in online and verbal discussions, attended panels and so on and so forth. My partner supported me in my founding of this magazine meant to help advance women in communications and continues to support me and my all-female staff.
Of course, we’re still learning and still happy to learn! We’re not perfect feminists (but are there perfect anythings?) but we still do these things together:
1. Question each other’s decision to perform beauty routines accepted by society.
Not going to lie, we both love shaving, mostly for the smooth way it makes our skin feel. However, if I ever tell my partner that I didn’t shave and not to be grossed out by my hair legs or armpits, he is quick to acknowledge that there’s nothing wrong with a little hair. Or not wearing make up. Like-wise, I will remind my boyfriend that it’s okay to want to paint his nails and if he’d like, I’ll do them for him. We never judge one another for our desire to carry out these routines, but give gentle reminders that none of it is necessary to achieve what is deemed beauty.
2. Call one another out…constructively
We’ve all said problematic things and that can be okay–as long as we’re aware of what we said was wrong and how to fix it. If either of us say something the other believes to be problematic, we’re quick to have a discussion on it. Calling your partner out should never be an argument; it’s a discussion. It’s a constructive talk meant to correct problematic behavior and understand why they might have said it and how to improve in the future.
3. Argue over marriage traditions
Who is going to take whose last name? Will my father walk me down the aisle? We may be 19, but we both have a lot of opinions on marriage–even if it won’t necessarily be between the two of us. We aren’t afraid to tell others our opinions on sexist and outdated marriage traditions and our ideas on modifying them for our wedding.
4. Practice body positivity
Reminding your partner that you find them attractive is a wonderful thing. It’s even better, too, when you support them when it comes to their choices with their body. Admittedly, I can be down on my body and often desire smaller thighs and a tighter belly. Like-wise, my partner will worry about his own weight. Of course, always be there for your partner and assuring them that their body is wonderful. However, the key to body positivity is not shutting down one’s objections to their body by simply telling them that they’re beautiful, but constructively working through why someone may doubt their body and supporting healthy ways if that individual may want to make a change. Although he is always at my side calling me gorgeous no matter what, my partner is also always cheering me on at the gym.
5. Fight inherent power dynamics between each other
Occasionally there may appear to be an inherent power dynamic in certain relationships, particularly heterosexual ones in which my boyfriend, a man, may naturally appear to have power over me, a woman. We are always working on making it clear that our relationship is about equality.
6. Seek out open conversation with our friends about feminism
If I’m not incessantly sharing my articles and the articles of other feminists on Facebook my partner is. We encourage our friends to discuss them with us and are happy to teach and also learn in these discussions.
7. Acknowledge one another’s privilege and our own and seek out information
My partner and I are both white, cis-gendered, straight individuals. We are middle-class and are currently enrolled in university. We are always doing our best to stay aware of our privilege and seek out information on how to be better feminists and help out marginalized communities. As a woman, I help my partner recognize his masculine privilege as we recognize the privileges we share. If we ever waver and say or act problematically, we do our best to bring one another back.
8. Support one another’s ambitions
This magazine may not be where it is today without, in part, my boyfriend’s support (and an amazing co-founder, staff, and articles…). He is my cheerleader, my rock to turn to when things go wrong. In turn, I support him in all of his pursuits. I was there when he got into his dream university and have since helped and encouraged him in his pursuit of two difficult majors. We talk about our dreams after college and help one another form goals and then cheer each other on when reaching these goals.
9. Refuse labels
I’m a strong personality; my partner is calm and quiet. You heard that correctly: a fierce, outspoken woman dating a tranquil, quiet man. Clearly he must be “whipped.” My partner and I openly refuse labels when it comes to our relationship. We are who we are and we refuse to let anyone else define our relationship.
Although we have each other it’s our duty to listen to other feminists, especially women of color or LGBTQ+ folk, and work together towards improving our feminism every day.
Being a feminist power couple improves our relationship and love in so many brilliant ways. We empower one another and hopefully empower others!