My boyfriend is a feminist, and that matters.
by Kat Holleran
Two Wednesdays ago was International Women’s Day. To celebrate, my boyfriend donned a pink tee and bandana. Charlie is not just a feminist when it’s convenient or popular, though; he always makes efforts towards supporting the women in his life.
The day after Trump was elected president, Charlie called me and said something along the lines of: “This is probably going to be hard, but I want you to know I’m here for you regardless of what the new administration does that could harm you or other women. I love you so much.” He sent or said similar things to his closest women friends and his sisters. Two months later, Charlie took a bus from Syracuse NY with some friends to be part of the Women’s March on Washington D.C.. Through stressful crowds and poor cellphone reception, I reminded him that he was making history for me and the women of the world.
Every day I think about how lucky I am to be loved by someone who reminds me that I am strong, both as a woman and in general. Who tells me I’m beautiful and breaks down stereotypical views on femininity. Who knows that I can do anything I set my mind to with determination and effort, despite what our culture might lead me to believe.
My circumstance is rare. Most women aren’t fortunate enough to have a male significant other who understands the value and importance of supporting women and trying to create a future that is bursting with equity, feminism, and equal pay/rights/regard.
In this society, the opportunities for men and women are vastly different. While, in theory, we have access to the same things, like any marginalized vs. non-marginalized group of people, women are given the shorthand because of previous life experiences and obstacles that make it harder for us to achieve the same things.
By no means do I believe that I, or any other woman, needs or should need a man to help overcome these obstacles. I do believe, however, that equality for women will not be realized until we utilize collaboration across the spectrum of gender. The common misconception is that feminism equates men-hating, but the reality of feminism is that it fights for equal rights for women, especially women of color (if you don’t know what intersectional feminism is, here is a synopsis). With support from both men and women, we could live in the society feminism desires.
The truth is that men are often problematic, and we women certainly shouldn’t rely on the “good” ones to find our way to equity. Between man-splaining, workplace and classroom patronization, and sexist attitudes we have a lot to deal with and overcome. Admirable male role models, like Charlie, are important for other men to follow when they don’t see women as respectable figures. Creating an “army” of enlightened male feminists, with strong women leading the way, can help women achieve justice today and tomorrow.