After having a few recent conversations about whether men can even be feminist (The Sexy Feminist says: YES) and stumbling across this plea for guy-friendly feminist reading from a concerned girlfriend, we got to thinking: What does it take to be a feminist boyfriend? Let us count the ways:
1. Read feminist sites. We recommend this one, of course, but there’s also Feministing, Slate’s DoubleX blog, and many others. And we don’t say this as our No. 1 tip just to keep ourselves in business — reading sites that filter news through a feminist perspective is the quickest, easiest way to get a feel for, well, just how far we still have to go. He’ll get exactly why we still need feminism after spending an afternoon reading about Dominic Strauss-Kahn, Planned Parenthood cuts, and, ugh, Charlie Sheen. Hopefully he’ll also come out a fan of Bridesmaids, Tina Fey, and Jane Fonda.
2. Make sure you’re giving her what she wants, and not what she doesn’t want, in bed. This comes down to talking. It’s fun. Have some wine and discuss what you both like (and don’t). Then everyone’s on the same page. It’s so easy to lose track of equality in bed, and while we aren’t advocating strict and literal equality (if you like being tied up, ladies, go for it!) we think the key is making sure everyone is equally satisfied, whatever that means.
3. Share the burden of contraception. Again, it comes down to talking. Don’t assume the lady’s taking care of things just because we have a pill and you don’t. And trust us, she will swoon if you offer to foot half the birth control cost (even if she’s the one who has to go pick up the prescription). She may decline your offer, but it doesn’t hurt to put it out there.
4. Treat her like a lady, but let her pay sometimes. This is another case-by-case situation: Paying for stuff might be the most fraught area of modern dating. Basically, it’ll vary widely depending on which of you makes more, or whether you’ve got roughly equal bank accounts. That said, we don’t suggest using feminism as an excuse to be cheap; but we also appreciate you checking your antiquated ideas about manhood at the door and letting your woman pay sometimes, especially after the first few dates. It helps assuage our awkward feelings of feminist guilt and that nagging sensation of being a kept woman.
5. Cook together. It’s romantic, fun, healthy, and fiscally responsible. It also establishes a feeling of equality when it comes to domestic tasks and lays a great foundation if you take things to the next level and cohabitate.
6. Don’t resort to “stop acting like a chick” retorts during disagreements. Just be direct and honest; don’t drag gender into things.
7. Have intellectual debates with us. We love that.
8. Call yourself a feminist, dammit. This is basically like dirty talk to us.