Another what-we’ve-been-saying-all-along study: Feminism makes your relationships better.
Contrary to popular opinion, feminism and romance are not incompatible and feminism may actually improve the quality of heterosexual relationships, according to Laurie Rudman and Julie Phelan, from Rutgers University in the US. Their study* also shows that unflattering feminist stereotypes, that tend to stigmatize feminists as unattractive and sexually unappealing, are unsupported.
They found that having a feminist partner was linked to healthier heterosexual relationships for women. Men with feminist partners also reported both more stable relationships and greater sexual satisfaction. According to these results, feminism does not predict poor romantic relationships, in fact quite the opposite.
In fact, feminist women were more likely to be in a heterosexual romantic relationship than non-feminist women.
It’s not complicated to figure out why feminists would have more fulfilling relationships and better sex lives. When you see your partner as a human being and not a means to an end, you’re going to pick a partner you actually like, and your partner is going to feel valued for who they are, not for what they can give you. When you think that sex is a mutually pleasurable event where both partners should be comfortable and fully satisfied and neither should feel guilty or mistreated, you’re going to have better sex. When you see women as full-fledged people with full human rights — not baby incubators, not “the fairer sex,” not “compliments” to your existence, not status symbols, not holders of sex, not property, not your own personal support staff — you’re going to enjoy their company more. And they’re going to enjoy yours.
Jessica talked about this in her book, and her common-sense observation seems to hold pretty true. Partnerships between equals, and between two people who perceive their partners as equal, are going to be healthier.
Men who think women exist to aid men’s dominion are not going to be very good partners to women, and they’re going to find themselves mighty frustrated whenever their female partner demonstrates that she has a brain and free will. Women who expect to be treated as sub-human, or who need male companionship for social and economic support, or who think sex is for male pleasure, or who expect their male partners to be unemotional and perpetually “manly” instead of fully human, are going to have a mighty hard time finding happiness in their relationships.
In my picture of a healthy and good relationship, both partners value each other for who they are, not just for what they can do for the other person. Both partners are free to choose who they want to be with, and aren’t partnered for the sake of social approval or economic necessity or sexual permissibility. Both partners bring strength to the relationship, and those strengths aren’t based on who is “supposed” to be good at what (i.e., he pays the bills and she does the dishes). Both partners have equal say and power within the relationship, and both are free to leave it. Both partners view sex as a pleasure to be shared, not as a bargaining chip to be exchanged for respect or commitment or a ring.
In other words: A feminist relationship.
So file this one under, “feminism is good for everybody.”
Thanks to Meggygurl and Jess for the link.
And if you want the feminist undies pictured above, check out mushycat. And there’s more than just Feminists Do It Better thongs (although I really want the boy-briefs with that slogan). There’s all kinds of feminist and socially progressive clothing. Check it out.