I didn’t identify as a feminist when I first met my partner seven years ago.
I didn’t become a self-identifying feminist overnight. I’ve always had feminist beliefs; I just didn’t know they were feminist.
Perhaps it’s the scrutiny and negative connotations that come with identifying as a feminist, but there’s something different between having feminist ideals and outwardly identifying as a feminist.
But as I became more comfortable identifying as a feminist, I began to feel wary about coming out as a feminist to one of the closest people in my life – my partner.
Seeing one another’s growth is one of the most beautiful privileges of being in a long-term relationship. You have the honor of seeing their entire journey. So the thought that one of the closest individuals in my life might not supporting my feminist journey was devastating.
But I couldn’t expect the worst without even knowing the end result. I had to at least have the courage to come out to my partner as a feminist to see what would happen from there.
So if you’re in the same proverbial boat, then this article is for you.
You’re a Feminist – Own It
Own who you are, a feminist. Be proud to share it with others, and especially those closest to you.
This was personally the hardest thing for me to do.
I was newly identifying as a feminist and hesitant to do so because so many people gave me a hard time for it. I was also scared that my partner would think that all of the negative connotations associated with being a feminist would apply to me.
But I couldn’t hide who I was, especially not from my partner. I had to own my voice and my opinions and be brave enough to share it with the world.
Except for those who were screaming “Smash the patriarchy!” in the womb, we weren’t all born identifying as feminist. And when you did have your “feminist click moment,” it likely took time for your feminist ideals to develop and formulate.
So realize that you can’t just expect your partner to be a feminist because you now identify as one (anyway, that wouldn’t be healthy). Similarly, you can’t expect them to attain and comprehend things the way you now see them.
Undoing gender conditioning and socialization is a process for anyone. So be patient.
Share and Learn Together
Once you own your feminist identity, you might feel like it’s time to share it with others.
As you learn and as you grow, make sure to share what you learn along the way with your partner. Reiterating what you’ve come to learn is a great way for you to not only better understand this new information, but to help your partner learn as well.
Hey, you never know! They may teach you a thing or two as well.
I recently learned about the significance of cultural appropriation.
After a lot of research and YouTubing, I was excited to share this finding with my partner.
He was not only passionate about the subject, but he pointed out some other examples of appropriation that I had not realized.
Feminism is a conversation. Don’t be afraid to start one.
Create Feminist Dialogue
Feminism likely changed your perception of the world and yourself, so share your new perspective with your partner!
Media is a great way to start.
Use media literacy to point out sexism, objectification, or misrepresentation.
The best way to do this is by using media that is personal to them. Use a magazine or television show that they usually consume as the basis for your feminist dialog. This allows them to see feminism as related to themselves.
For example, if you’re watching a newscast where there are fewer female correspondents than male, bring that up. Ask, “How many female correspondents are there?” Follow it up with “Two out of five doesn’t seem very fair. What do you think?”
Remember that in order for something to be a dialogue, it needs to involve the opinions of more than one person. So don’t just point out sexism! Allow your partner to join in on the conversation.
Spark curiosity so that they might see things differently though a feminist view.
Try to make your feminist dialogue effortless and interwoven into your everyday lives. Don’t force-feed it.
Listen, Don’t Judge
Remember, no one likes to be judged.
You may be your partner’s first introduction to feminism (or their first introduction to feminism in a positive light), so keep that in mind.
During your feminist conversations, don’t judge them for not knowing something. Allow them to express themselves and actually listen to what they have to say.
You weren’t always the brightest feminist tool in the shed either.
Make It Relatable to Them
As the saying goes, “The personal is political.”
Keep this in mind when trying to talk to your partner about feminism.
Whether it is their gender, occupation, or ethnicity, try your best to show them that feminism is inclusive.
“You can’t be what you can’t see,” and with this in mind, when I first introduced my partner to feminism, I made sure to point out male feminists in the media or feminist discourse that came out of the mouths of males. I’ve sent my partner clips of male feminist comedians and blogs about or written by male feminists.
Being that my partner is a high school teacher, I also made it a point to share my thoughts on how gender roles hurt the development of young girls and boys. We spoke of hyper-masculinity and how that specifically hurt boys from expressing themselves when vulnerable.
My partner was not only able to relate because of the children he teaches, but it also opened him up to reflected on how gender roles impacted his own development as an adult male.
By showing your partner that they are included in the feminist conversation, it allows them to feel safe and more likely to open up and share their thoughts.
Be Blunt – Ask the Hard Questions
After expressing your feminist views for a while, you should be able to tell if your partner is in support of feminism. But I believe that in a great relationship, you should feel free and comfortable to ask your partner what’s on their mind.
So to have a real grasp of how your partner feels about feminism, there’s only one way to find out – ask!
What do you think of feminism? How does my being a feminist make you feel?
Do you think you’re a feminist?
I’ve identified as a feminist for two years. And only this year did I have the guts to ask my partner if he identified as a feminist. To my surprise, he answered yes.
But he also expressed that he wouldn’t feel confortable identifying as such to others because of the negative connotations associated with male feminists. I not only honored his honesty, but I was glad I asked or else I would have never known his feelings.
Anti-Feminist vs. Not Identifying
There’s a difference between being anti-feminist and not identifying as a feminist.
Actions speak louder than words.
There are plenty of people who don’t identify as feminists, yet support and do feminist work.
Perhaps they don’t feel that the label properly represents them or they don’t feel the need to identify. Whatever the case, these individuals are not anti-feminist.
People who are anti-feminist are people who are actively against the idea of feminism and its goals. And a lot of the time, they’ll let you know it.
Be Honest with Yourself
There are things in a relationship that you are willing to compromise – whose family you visit for the holidays, which side of the bed you sleep on, or what movie to watch.
But compromising who you are should never be one of those things.
The same way that being five feet, Latina, and a woman are things that will never change about me, being a feminist is also a part of who I am.
If your partner doesn’t accept you being a feminist, than what they’re saying is that they don’t love who you are.
If you’ve expressed your feminist views and beliefs, and your partner has clearly stated that they do not agree, don’t stick around thinking that you can change their mind.
And—well—do as Beyoncé once said: “To the left, to the left.”
You’re better off.
Kat Lazo is a Contributing Writer for Everyday Feminism. She’s a self-proclaimed social commentator, media critic, and overall, a woman who questions everything. Having studied Advertising and Marketing Communications at the Fashion Institute of Technology, she’s ready to add some feminism to the ad world. Check out more of her writing at TheeKatsMeoww, watch her videos on YouTube, and follow on Twitter @TheeKatsMeoww, Facebook and Tumblr. Read her articles here.