A turning point in my last relationship, was when we were sat lightly discussing feminism, I even asked him to blog about dating a feminist, when I dared ask the question….
“What’s it like dating a feminist in comparison to your previous girlfriends?”
Now the answer to this really could have gone a multitude of different ways:
1) Awful, you and your feminism have ruined me.
2) Amazing, I love seeing how aspirational you are, and your feminism inspires me to be a better man.
I think I would have preferred answer 1, to the answer I did get.
No different? .......
I felt myself feel actually genuinely confused for a moment, and actually really quite upset. I’d been with my partner for the best part of two years, we’d had a whirlwind relationship and I did hide things from him, sometimes I hid how much I loved him because I was so afraid of being vulnerable, often I hid my money because I didn’t want him to know I’d been selfish and bought myself things, I hid how I secretly had planned our wedding in my head and how we would organize baby names so it would be gender equal, but never, in the whole time we were together, did I ever-ever hide my feminism.
I felt, for the first time in a relationship, totally invisible. Anyone that knows me, and especially people that know me well, I hope would answer differently- they might say something like, “oh yeah, your feminism makes you a bit different because you initiate political conversations on a Friday night instead of drinking tequila (the tequila comes later)” or perhaps something like “oh yeah that reason why your mum tells you off when you go into shops to not be too outspoken or aggressive because you refused to be undermined because of your gender in any and all contexts” or even hopefully ....
“I love you, I know what’s important to you. I recognize how much you care about this, and that’s how your feminism affects me”
I would be lying if I said that after comment I didn’t think about our relationship differently. I came off the contraceptive pill because I refused to be the only hormonally imbalanced person in the relationship, I spoke about my hopes of writing shows for more women, about the women in my life who inspired me, about how I wanted to work for things that I care about, about how important feminism, and balance in a relationship is to me, and that’s why I needed him to work as hard as I do, and still be able to cook a meal for us both in the evening. I felt, like I have been awake and alive to this in our relationship, and all of a sudden, it felt as if I had just been perhaps misunderstood for 24 months.
**Now, just to be clear, none of this is alluding to the character of my ex-boyfriend- He didn’t physically ignore me, and is an intelligent man that knows and fully understands the concepts of feminism, and who knows, maybe he should have said no different because all of my ex-girlfriends were equally active feminists, this could be true but was not mentioned in the aforementioned conversation, and these are just my personal feelings and reflections and musings.**
How did I get here? Did he just think I was nagging him? Did he just think I like to be frustrated for the sake of it? I have battled, with personal relationships, relationships with authority (as we all have) and the people I have close to me now, are the ones that forgive me for screaming passionately about my politics in the kitchen (thanks guys, you know who you are) because they know that this is now something that is woven into who I am. I mean, that often it is the beat that keeps my legs moving- I want to believe in a brighter and better world, and that is often what pushes me forward (I know I speak for a lot of people when I say that, theatre makers, writers, we keep on sluggin’!). What I believe in, is who I am. Or a part of who I am, it is a part of my conscious- of my eyesight, of what I chose to see and navigate around in the world. When he told me that It didn’t make a different whether I was feminist or not, what I heard was
“I don’t know you”
“I don’t care”
Now I’m not saying I’m looking for the feminist Che Guevara, (although that would be well good) but I guess, what I’m looking for is for my feminism to be visible in a relationship. If I feel my politics, and my feminism in my heart, in my self, in eeny-weeny roots of me, then surely when you tell me you love me, then you have to love that part of me too?
Perhaps I am just being over sensitive, but I think maybe, I was just looking for more of an answer, more of a response, when feminism is active in your everyday life it becomes part of your functioning, part of your psyche, I can’t separate it anymore. I don’t want to separate it anymore. Mostly I just really want to be seen. I’d hope that maybe it would be considered that the reason I asked for help isn’t because I wasn’t capable, or because I just liked the sound of my own voice, but because it’s important to share the weight. To fight for balance. Just because my mother raised me well to cook and clean, doesn’t make it my occupation. I’m sorry I can’t separate it. I’m sorry I can’t build our lives, build our dinners, make love to you and then make you breakfast- Sometimes I wish I could, if I could switch off that voice in my head that niggled me and said I wish this felt different…
But mostly I think even though it’s hard to have equality. It’s worth fighting for. Even if it means trying to change the little things. Everyday.