In “How to find a feminist boyfriend,” Lisa Bonos at the Washington Post wants to find the perfect man who is “cute, smart, funny and . . . yes, feminist.”
“But how do you spot a male feminist if he’s not at an abortion rights rally wearing a ‘This Is What a Feminist Looks Like’ T-shirt?” she asks. According to Bonos, you put a label on it—he needs to conform to the feminist creed. What is that? “Here’s how I’m defining it,” Bonos writes. “Feminist daters—male or female, gay or straight—aren’t constrained by gender roles. Anyone can do the asking-out, the feelings-confessing or the initiating of any kind.”
A true male feminist is supportive of, interested in and enthusiastic about his partner’s career. He might not expect to earn more than his partner or think that his career trumps hers; a feminist couple might relocate for the woman’s career.
‘If you’re a woman who wants a man to grab you and kiss you because that’s what sweeps you off your feet, realistically, a feminist man is not going to do that,’ says Rita Goodroe, a 38-year-old life coach in Northern Virginia who works mostly with singles. ‘He’s going to ask for permission.’
A feminist dater or boyfriend (and yes, feminists have boyfriends) is aware of the ways women have traditionally been held back, by others and by our own accord, and actively pushes against that. He’s sensitive to the fact that women’s bodies are frequently judged, abused and legislated, and takes no part in that. He gets it.
Bonos has unwittingly revealed a big part of what’s wrong with the feminist movement today. She is so caught up in labeling herself that she has lost her “self.” She’s a “feminist.” The man she wants to be with must be “feminist man.” Then they’ll be a “feminist couple.” Before that, they’re “feminist daters.”
Feminism is what defines her. It’s who she is, which is why she wants a man who is a feminist and who accepts her as one. She doesn’t see herself as a woman or the man as a man. Everything is defined and perceived through the grid of feminism, and feminism is contrary to being feminine, because being feminine is to be vulnerable.
Women—Humans—Can’t Exist Without Vulnerability
Feminists have constructed an image of themselves as self-assured, strong women, which makes it “harder to access the more feminine parts of yourself that could be more positive.”
“There’s this persona we create for ourselves that doesn’t compute with vulnerability,” Bonos quotes one feminist as saying. But, she writes, we don’t want to be vulnerable “because a woman at her most vulnerable could be taken advantage of. And that’s no one’s feminist fantasy.”
Exactly. This is the fantasy feminists today have perpetuated: that women can exist without vulnerabilities, that they are better, more evolved by becoming more like a man. Their persona is Henry Higgins’ musings come to life.
Feminists who put their feminist creed before their identity as women create a tension in their own being because their femininity, their natural identity as women, is a liability, a weakness. Everything, then, becomes a power play. This is what many men react to with feminists who identify themselves as such. It’s about power, control, and demands for equality where no equality can truly be achieved. The only equality we have is equality before the law. Equality in value as human beings. Equality in worth. The desire for equality that the first-wave feminists fought for has been achieved. We still need to be vigilant in maintaining this, of course, but is this what we’re really talking about when we’re discussing personal relationships, which is what Bonos’ post is about?
See Me As a Feminist, Not a Woman
In demanding to be seen as a feminist and to date a feminist man, Bonos isn’t just concerned about respect, she wants to be treated like a man—a mirror image of the man sitting across from her. Or, she wants some distorted image of herself to be reflected back on the man. Either way, neither are being true to themselves as a man or as a woman. They’re being defined by feminism.
She talks about women navigating the waters of being both strong and feminine, yet she recoils at vulnerability, and demands that a potential boyfriend see her first as a feminist, not as a woman. She creates this tension in herself by abandoning her identity as a woman for the feminist persona.
Women need to stop living the feminist fantasy. They need to stop trying to strap on a penis. They need to grab a mirror and take a look at what’s down there. It’s a vagina, ladies, and it has a power all its own—a beauty all its own. You’re different from men. You’re a woman. That’s your natural identity. You’re a human being and you’re a woman. You don’t need to grapple with that, or navigate, or struggle with it. You don’t need to be afraid of it simply because it can make you vulnerable to men. Being vulnerable isn’t the end of the world. The answer to being safe is not to become more like a man (or to make men more like women), but to foster love and respect between the sexes—and to cultivate your own strength as a woman.
Feminism has robbed women of their true selves. That needs to end. Women should be free to be themselves as women. They need to embrace their vulnerabilities (and their feminine powers) and understand that the only way those vulnerabilities can be respected, honored, and not abused is through love, not power plays.
How Is it Romantic to Ask Permission For Every Kiss and Touch?
When you date, look for a man who is a man—who is true to himself—and who loves and respects women. Let him be who he is. If he is a loving person, he will let you be who you are. It’s about mutual affection and honor between the genders, not about gender roles or conforming to a label or abandoning who you are and becoming something else.
Living the feminist fantasy robs everyone of their true identity, as men and as women. Some women, for example, love for the man they care about to grab them and kiss them. She trusts him because they have developed love. He’s strong and the aggressor, as men are designed to be, and she loves it because she loves his masculine strength. She revels in it. She trusts him as a man, and he respects her as a woman.
But if it’s all about power between the sexes, then, no, such behavior isn’t allowed or even understood in the right context. The man is weakened, emasculated, and the woman is degraded, her feminine vulnerabilities—and the beauty that comes with them—rejected.
The feminine fantasy needs to be replaced with the reality of being a woman. When women allow themselves the freedom to be real women, then men will be free to be real men. But it doesn’t stop there. The two need to cultivate love and respect, not morph the man into some kind of feminist perversion or lose the woman in a feminist persona.
Be Yourself, Not a Label or Category
Women need to stop with the feminist label. Feminism in this context is no different than any other form of fundamentalism that robs people of their true selves because it defines them by an external creed, not by how God made them. Let men be men with all their masculine glory, and let women be women with all their feminine glory (and the power and vulnerabilities that come with it), and there will be peace—if, and only if, the relationships are cultivated in love. The greatest quality of love is that it is not “self-seeking.” The feminist who wants a man who is a feminist is a self-seeker, looking for a man who will change who he is to love a label, not the woman behind the label.
While feminists have many legitimate concerns regarding shared work, roles, earnings, honoring one another’s bodies, etc., at the core of hyper-feminized thinking is a woman’s self-loathing of her own gender. That truth seeps out in all sorts of ways. She hates her perceived vulnerabilities and hates Nature’s God, who made them. She hates that she has a vagina—or to be more specific, that she has a womb.
To feminists like this, I just want to say that the message real women want to send to other women is not, “Declare yourself a feminist and find a man who lives up to your creed!” We want to tell women: If you like your vagina, you can keep it! Be who you were created to be: a woman, with all your vulnerabilities, challenges, and differences. Cultivate love, not power, and find men who are concerned about cultivating that love, too. If you don’t, you’ll be miserable because you will be living a lie, a fantasy, you will be existing as a label, not living a full life as a self-aware individual, as a woman.