My partner is a feminist, I know it for a fact.
I know it because she told me so. One day, long before we were even engaged to be wed, while drinking coffee at one of the three tables we had in our apartment at the time, she just outright told me: “I’m a feminist.” She said it as though it was no big deal so I handled it so. I finished the rest of my coffee and went on with my day.
I didn’t ask for proof at the time because I didn’t know a lot about what she was telling me. What was a feminist? I’d heard folk tales of them hiding in the woods ready to attacks men but I was worried I might actually have been thinking about the witch from Hansel and Gretel and not an actual feminist. Couldn’t chance it though; what if feminists were extensions of witches? Did she secretly dislike me? Was I automatically bad because I was a man?
So I Googled it. as people with questions are wont to do. I needed to know more about this woman and searching the internet for the definition of a word seemed as good a way to learn about her as any other method. She seemed so normal. She seemed to like people with and without penises. Was that what feminists were? People who liked other people?
I looked through all the images the search brought up, hoping to spot her somewhere. There were people of all shapes and sizes but I couldn’t see my partner. Was she lying? Was Google lying? There were even pictures of men (Google, you’re broken). I kept seeing one woman with a bandana on, flexing her bicep. It was intimidating and very yellow.
I then made my way through the words. It’s strange if you read the way the internet tries to define something like feminism. You have people from something called Men’s Rights Groups defining these people as men haters and liars. You have women disowning feminists because “I don’t need feminism.” You see stories from the United Nations and from some very well-written feminist websites that talk about the need for women everywhere to be listened to, respected and understood. There’s no one definition, there’s no one picture, there’s no one physical trait that I could find to help me determine once and for all if my partner was a feminist or not.
The sites I could find used words like privilege and oppression and misogyny and patriarchy. There are a lot of words, thousands and thousands in fact, that come up when you look for the word feminist on the internet. But there’s no way to understand what a feminist is if you don’t talk to one and listen to them and get to know them better.
So, I’ve spent the last 10 years getting to know my feminist more. And you know what’s weird? She’s awesome. She’s amazing. She’s an amazing feminist person.
Feminism is a word, my partner is a person. A person who works every day to make the world a better place for her, for me and for our children. When women have their right to make decisions for themselves taken away she gets angry. When girls are apologized to because there are only “boy toys” to play with she gets upset.
I happen to be aware of a lot of feminists who work in all sorts of fields. Some work in universities, others work on the streets. Some spend all day, every day trying to change a world where women have to prove the existence of something like rape culture or pay inequality. Some have kids, some of them don’t. Some stay home all day, some go to a building for their employment. There isn’t a feminist paycheck, there’s just work and helping others.
I’m so glad I’m the partner of a feminist. I’m also happy to be living in a house with multiple feminists.
My daughters are smart, strong-willed, caring people who are learning from the best. They have a wonderful role-model in front of them who has shown them that there’s nothing a woman can’t do. To me, that’s what feminism has come to signify—that there’s nothing the three women I live with can’t do—including ask for help when the dishwasher needs loading.
There’s no such thing as “not needing feminism,” because without it, we wouldn’t have these amazing people.
I rarely worry that my feminist partner is a witch these days, surely there would have been evidence at this point.
Originally posted at Puzzling Posts, cross-posted with permission. Photo by Mike Reynolds.