When I set off to write this text, I asked my partner what she considers to be the most feminist thing she does. She thought for a while, gave a couple of loose examples, and then got frustrated with me for wasting her time and left the room to do her own thing.
To be honest, this captures it pretty well. She does what she wants and won’t let me or anyone hijack her time.
We started dating nearly seven years ago. I was polyamorous at the time and had two other girlfriends (definitely also feminists) who also had other partners. We all had a number of lovers and a free card to hook up with people at parties and otherwise. I loved my freedom. I was going through life like a plow: I had a decent job, was part of fun projects, had a good social circle, and had a bunch of lovers, and nothing stood in my path. I felt like I was rocking it, but…
But then my partner showed up. She entered my life, and tried to fit in for some time, but decided that the deal I had wasn’t a deal she agreed to and wanted to leave.
Why couldn’t she just fit perfectly into my world and be who I wanted her to be?! I tried to convince her, to find different arrangements, to offer anything I could (as long as it wouldn’t upset my lifestyle too much, of course). But no. She was a stone on my path and she wouldn’t budge.
By then I knew that I’d rather change my path than let her leave.
So I did.
She was a stone that gave me a new direction, and made my life more difficult but also much more interesting. We spent years renegotiating our relationship to find a way of being open in a way that suits both of us. She wanted to move country, so we left Edinburgh. After 8 months in Barcelona, she decided she doesn’t like it, so we moved to Berlin. It turned out to be an excellent decision and we love it here.
I have ideas on what I want us to do here, but she has hers. She dances, learns, finds amazing podcasts, paints, and refuses to do things she doesn’t want. She fills her time with not-me. We do a lot together, of course, but she sets some boundaries and there is a clear point where she doesn’t care what I want because she has other plans.
It’s annoying sometimes but also inspiring because we are different and can support each other in what we do. I started a band and she was my most devoted fan. She dances and I cheer for her every time. I write and she continues to inspire and challenge my ideas. She researches mental well-being and I help her apply it in practice. We do things I would never do on my own because she has this maddening quality of not agreeing to what I want. She has her own ideas, and as frustrating as it is that they aren’t exactly what I would prefer, they are damn great ideas!
I thought I was totally rocking this life thing, but she has challenged me to rock even more.
You have probably figured out by now that my partner also goes through life like a plow. And don’t worry, I’m a stone on her path, too. Sometimes we frustrate each other, but for the most part, standing in each other’s way is what makes us grow, experience new things, develop new skills, negotiate more fulfilling compromises, and grow into new, unexpected, and always better selves. I cannot think of anything better a partner could give me than to help me become my best possible self.
Sometimes, on the worse days, she gives in to her female upbringing. She people-pleases, she becomes unsure, and she agrees to things without really wanting to, just to not upset me or someone else. Yes, I get the momentary joy of having it my way, but in a long run, it’s empty. It’s as if this proud lioness, a strong, independent beast, turned into a sheep.
If a sheep follows you, it means nothing. If a lioness walks with you, it’s because she wants to. I can feel it. What a difference it makes to know people are with you because they want to, not because they have to! I feel I must be doing something awesome enough to attract a lioness, and her presence, her ideas, and her strength will only make it more awesome.
I keep hearing about men who wish for a quiet, obedient wife who will not challenge them in any way. Many guys seem to be spending their time whining about how in the modern West you can’t find women like this anymore, and some even go to seek them elsewhere, hoping to import themselves a meek wife of their dreams.
For the life of me, I can’t get it! Even assuming that women elsewhere are in fact meek (which they aren’t), even assuming that these guys could succeed (which they won’t), why would you rather have a sheep follow you than join your roars with a lioness? Why wouldn’t you want a partner who will challenge you and help you become your best self? A partner who has her own amazing life you can support? A partner with whom you can both grow and inspire each other?
You’re only on this Earth once. Are you seriously going to forego an opportunity to make your life as awesome as possible, just because it’s convenient to have someone cook, clean, and have sex with you without complaining?
Seriously, guys, hire a cook, a cleaner, and a sex worker, but when you are looking for a partner, you want a feminist, because you are missing out big time.
PS. Yes, I know, cooks, cleaners and sex workers can be feminists too, and most of all, you should just cook and clean yourself. But hey, it sounded more dramatic this way 😉