Feminists Do It Better

better_8312_red_m.jpg
Panties never lie.

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.


Similar Posts (automatically generated):

About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
This entry was posted in Feminism, Gender and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to Feminists Do It Better

  1. lizvelrene says:

    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 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.

    I’ll add that on the other hand, when I can provide for myself with a comfortable income and function with independence as a single woman, any partner I’m with should know that I’m with them because I like them, not because I need their money or need a hubby to fix my plumbing. It reduces the anxiety that I will find someone richer/more husbandly and move on. I’m not auditioning someone for a role – I just enjoy their company. Granted a particular sort of male will find this more anxiety-producing, because they can’t think of a relationship that isn’t a transaction of some sort…

  2. DAS says:

    In fact, feminist women were more likely to be in a heterosexual romantic relationship than non-feminist women.

    Actually, speaking as a (hopefully former) Nice Guy(TM), of the J. Alfred Prufrock sort who always hated the prospect of asking gals out and wished it would work the other way more often, there might be an even more basic explanation than the oneJill gives as to why feminist women are more likely to be in a heterosexual romantic relationship than non-feminist women: non-feminist women wedded (pardon the pun) to traditional sex roles are waiting around for a guy to ask them out, advance dating into a “relationship”, etc. They may be hinting or even pushing for that date, that promise of going steady, etc., but all their passive-aggressiveness about it merely is making things less likely to proceed further.

    OTOH, a feminist woman, not wedded to traditional sex roles is going to be more assertive. And when you are assertive you are more likely to get what you want than when you are passive-aggressive (as a passive-aggressive sort of guy, I know from experience). So if a feminist woman wants to be involved in a heterosexual romantic relationship, she’s more likely to be able to become so than a non-feminist woman.

    It’s perhaps just a matter of “seek ye and ye shall find” … although, of course, I don’t disagree with either Jill or lizvelrene …

  3. Thomas, TSID says:

    But only once a year at Christmas (unless the trolls have mislead me).

    :-)

  4. Mnemosyne says:

    Granted a particular sort of male will find this more anxiety-producing, because they can’t think of a relationship that isn’t a transaction of some sort…

    I’ve run into that kind of troll on the blogs before. He literally can’t picture a woman being interested in him for anything other than his paycheck, so he gets very indignant at the idea that his paycheck isn’t really necessary. After all, if his paycheck isn’t necessary, what else does he have to offer?

    It’s sad, really. My husband and I make pretty much the same amount (I think he’s about $1 an hour ahead of me right now), so I’m not with him because of the fabulous lifestyle he provides me. I’m with him because I love him and he’s a great guy who brings a lot to the relationship, but it’s all stuff you can’t put a dollar value on. What dollar value can you put on a man who helps you nurse your dying cat every night for four months?

  5. Bree says:

    As a relationships scholar I’m not surprised at all – a lot of the things that we know go into healthy well-functioning relationships, assertiveness, perceptions of equity, etc. are likely to correlate with a feminist perspective.

    I’m glad the Rutgers scholars framed their work the way they did to help combat stereotypes.

  6. Pingback: What should be coming from the Ministry of the Bloody Obvious at SoE in a new home

  7. h0tr0d says:

    This is a great story, but does anyone know how feminism was defined ? The difference between liberal feminism and radical feminism would likely show significantly different results.

  8. Jill says:

    Oh man… I don’t want to bite, but I would kind of love to hear h0tr0d’s definition of “liberal feminism” versus “radical feminism.” Ten dollars it has something to do with who shaves their armpits.

  9. h0tr0d says:

    That’s not very nice Jill….I thought you were trying to keep things civil. Here’s a link as my reference point:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feminism

  10. Jill says:

    Well, my friend, there’s a difference between niceness and civility.

    And I’ll put it out there that most feminists don’t fall cleanly into any of those camps; most of us borrow from quite a few of them in shaping our feminisms. I borrow from quite a bit of radical theory, but would probably be better described as a “liberal feminist” in practice; I also draw a lot from sex-positive and post-Colonial feminist thought. So the line-drawing isn’t very productive.

  11. h0tr0d says:

    That’s the point I was trying to make about this study. If someone asked me if I was a feminist, I would say yes, but qualify my response that I was a liberal feminist. I’m sure you wouldn’t consider me a feminist, as was demonstrated by your initial response.

  12. Einherjar says:

    Now, while my reading comprehension is normally quite good, I feel that I may be misinterpreting something in the original post. Let me quote the relevant parts.

    …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 view sex as a pleasure to be shared, not as a bargaining chip to be exchanged for respect or commitment or a ring.

    Is this meant to imply that polyamoury is part of a feminist relationship or is it speaking about the ability for a woman to leave or join any relationship as she wishes instead of being forced to stay or go?

    Sex should certainly be shared and never “withheld” by either partner for manipulative reasons. In my book, the best sex I have shared was with a feminist woman, Go Feminism!

  13. Jill says:

    No, I wasn’t talking about polyamoury (although if that’s what you want to do, go for it). I meant that women aren’t forced to find a husband just for the sake of finding a husband, or to support themselves, or to get out of their father’s house, or whatever. They don’t have to stay in bad relationships. Etc etc.

  14. RachelPhilPa says:

    Well, I commented about this on Shakes Sis, as follows…

    OK, I’ve just one critique of the study – it seems to privilege hetero relationships over same-sex relationships and indeed ignores the existence of the latter. Do the researchers not think that same-sex relationships won’t also be strengthened if both partners are feminists? Or do they not care?

  15. Einherjar says:

    As women continue to climb upwards in terms of equal or superior income in comparison to their male peers, I expect the power dynamics of ALL relationships(queer/straight/ect)will shift in numerous and probably unseen ways. Right now in the present, we are already seeing interesting clashes in terms of who is supposed to pay for dinner(or just offer to?)and who is supposed to pick up who and own a car. Many relationships collapse under the strain of financial woes, will the increase in female pay help alleviate that strain and allow for more feminist type relationships to bloom?

  16. tigtog says:

    RachelPhilPa, my coblogger Lauredhel had much the same concerns about the heteronormativity privilege.

    All this research does is keep the focus on a male-centric view of feminism. Women are allocated their worth based on their relationships with men and on their attractiveness to men. We whoop and holler and cheer because someone proved that feminists aren’t ugly lonely lezzos after all. Why is singleness a “negative stereotype”? Why is lesbianism a “negative stereotype”? Why is unattractiveness (whatever that means) a “negative stereotype”? There is no doubt that there is an labelling based on perceived value here. Where is that metric coming from?

    Also, a friend with journal access privileges sent us a copy of the full article about the study, and shall we just say there are also some concerns with the way it was designed? We will post on that shortly.

  17. RachelPhilPa says:

    tigtog…Yah, I’m suprised that so many (dare I say straight?) feminists totally missed how the study not only was heteronormative, but also is “validating” feminist women based on their value to men. Not only did the study totally ignore the presence of gay / lesbian / bi / queer folk, but so did many of the responses to it by feminist bloggers (sorry, Jill, but yeah; and to be clear, I’m not saying that straight feminist bloggers ignore queer folk in general, it’s just in *this one case*).

    It’s like we’re so happy to finally have a study that purports to shed a good light on feminism – a study that we can point to in order to counteract the MRA lies – that we close our eyes to flawed assumptions and methodology in the study itself.

    I have to admit that my initial reaction was “yay!”, and it took a bit for my patriarchyframingdar (what a great term!) to register a hit, and even then, I tried to wave the evidence away as a minor quibble. But the more that I think about it, the more pissed I get.

    IBTP.

  18. Robbespierre says:

    Jill,

    Oh man… I don’t want to bite, but I would kind of love to hear h0tr0d’s definition of “liberal feminism” versus “radical feminism.” Ten dollars it has something to do with who shaves their armpits. … So the line-drawing isn’t very productive.

    Well, I don’t know what your reasons for not wanting to “bite” are, bbut I think your reply that “line-drawing isn’t very productive” proves h0tr0d’s point to some extent. If you look at the discussion about the article over at feministing, you’ll find that there are people pointing out that one’s ability to live a healthy relationship may not only be amplified by feminism but that feminism also poses a lot of threats to this ability – Thus, to ask wether the amplifying qualities of “feminism” are linked to a particular feminist line of thought (“When you see women as full-fledged people with full human rights” is clearly not the only definition of feminism around) this seems like a rather logical, quite appropriate question. Of course, being new around here, I don’t know your history with h0tr0d, so you may have your reasons, but I think the armpit quote was a bit unfair…

  19. Pingback: Feminist Victim-blaming

Comments are closed.