3 Comments From Your Partner That Might Not Seem Anti-Feminist, But Are
There are some relationships in which you find yourself emotionally nurtured, intellectually stimulated, and supported so greatly by your partner that you really don't know how you survived this harsh, harsh world without them by your side. Then there are the relationships from which you escape, only to realize you're better off alone. And then there the types where things are mostly OK, but feel a little... off. It might only be later that you realize the anti-feminist comments from your partner you hear on the regular constantly shake your faith in the relationship, largely because these comments don't seem anti-feminist on the surface. But they are. They really, really are.
I once found myself in this kind of relationship. I was dating a guy who treated me really well at first; in fact, he seemed to be well and truly woke when it came to feminist issues (he even took a Gender Studies class in college!) and assured me he was supportive of my emotions and career choices. But from the outset, there were little comments that didn't sit well, and over time, they brought to light fundamental differences in the way we viewed gender and societal issues.
There was the time before we were even official that he told me his number one worry in a relationship would be his girlfriend dressing "slutty"; when I pushed him to explain what constituted a "slutty outfit" and pointed out that I was the proud owner of plenty a low-cut top, he refused to explain, but assured me my clothing wouldn't be a problem. After several other ridiculous comments and an episode in which he flipped out on me because I told him I was too tired to have sex, we eventually broke up. The catalyst for those events? I had landed a job. Apparently a woman in pursuit of her own career was also too much for him to handle.
The subtly anti-feminist comments I noticed in my relationship were indicators of more controlling behaviors that only became apparent to me later on; if you think you're situation sounds similar, though, there are ways to spot the signs before it becomes all-encompassing. But it's also important to remember that not every anti-feminist comment denotes a full-blown set of misogynistic ideals. Sometimes your partner might just need a little nudge to realize what they're saying is offensive, or you might need to re-assess why a particular comment from your partner can make you feel uneasy in your relationship.
But that doesn't stop these kinds of comments from hurting, and being able to spot them is important. Here are three things that you might have heard in your relationship, and which you or your partner may not have previously realized are actually anti-feminist.
1. "I'd Prefer If You Didn't Change Your Hair/Outfit/Nails/Other Aspect Of Your Physical Appearance."
A relationship will only succeed if both parties manage to retain their individual identities and are happy enough in themselves that minor changes to anyone's appearance won't cause friction. And in a relationship based on truly feminist ideals, both parties should be free to express themselves however they please. If your partner always seems concerned with how you dress or groom yourself, it could indicate that they're not entirely happy with you being your own person, which can be a major red flag. And although many of us may have expressed a preference in how our partner dresses or styles their hair, there's a big difference between providing an opinion when asked or making a light-hearted comment, and repeatedly attempting to manipulate someone into changing something about how they look because it would make the other person more comfortable. Next time this happens, ask your partner to first to explain their concerns and remind them that the only person who gets to decide what you look like is you.
2. "You're The Only Woman I Know Who's Funny And Pretty!"
True story: My ex once said this to me in what I think was an extremely muddled attempt to pay me some sort of "compliment." Trouble was, he also managed simultaneously to insult every other woman on the planet by doing so. I slowly managed to get him to understand why it was extremely misogynistic (and biologically impossible) to assume that I was the sole woman in the world in possession of a face he found attractive and a good sense of humor — but needless to say, his comment was completely at odds with my feminist ideals, because...well, just WTF?
Your partner should always be able to say something nice to you without belittling or insulting other people; it's not difficult. And if you find that your partner consistently throws shade at people like you, and then says something like, "Oh, but I wasn't talking about you," they may be trying to hide more extreme views or a deeper-rooted prejudice.
3. "You Don't Need Money, You've Got Me."
I know plenty of couples who reached an economic agreement early on with regard to whose money is used in the relationship. I've got friends who love to be taken care of more than others, which is totally fine; meanwhile, I've got others who aren't that bothered either way, but realize that it just makes practical sense for one person to buy stuff if they earn a lot more than the other. The beauty of such arrangements, though, is that all couples are in mutual agreement as to how best to organize their finances, because being in a stable, healthy relationship with respect for each other means you make some important decisions together. One thing I hate — and which is definitely a red flag as an antithesis to feminist ideals — is being dictated to when it comes to money. If your partner exhibits the kind of behavior where he or she tries to make you believe that relying on them completely for something is preferable to being your own person, you might want to reconsider staying in the relationship. It might be a sign of financial abuse, and they might eventually extend that treatment to other aspects of your life.