I was an unmarried woman until the age of 26. Growing up in a small, conservative town in the Midwest, this presented lots of questions for me on How to Function In Society As a Single Person. There weren’t real openings for me and there weren’t real invitations to wholeness apart from pursuing marriage. This really did not sit well with me. I found myself challenging the belief system I had grown up with that women are Supporters & Helpers. I was convinced I had so much more to offer than that. I was really starting to rock the boat with my feminist ideas.
Then when I least expected it, my college boyfriend and I were reconnected at a house-warming party. We hadn’t spoken for 3 years so the somehow slow-motion fireworks we experienced at our reunion were unexpected indeed. 11 months later we were engaged, and 4 months after that we were married. Now I would finally understand the gender roles of my upbringing. Now that I myself was married, all the tensions about singleness and feeling like I had a whole lot more than “Helper” to offer the world would become crystal clear.
SPOILER: the opposite happened.
In this first year of our marriage, all of my frustrations have remained and have been fanned into flame by none other than my very own husband. In this first year of marriage, my husband has helped me see all the ways in which I am much more patriarchal in my thinking than I realized. In this first year of marriage, my husband has supported me in launching my freelance writing career and has been part of digging up the deep roots of imposter syndrome and “this isn’t my place” shame that is apparently rooted deeply in my heart. In this first year of marriage, my husband has taught me the incredibly simple art of being a feminist.
In using the word “Feminist” I do not mean an “Anti-men” or “Woman as the New Man” campaign. It’s not about tearing anyone down — it’s about building some people up to where others already are. Men need women and women need men. We all need each other and we need each of us to be able to access being fully human.
The main thing you should know about my husband, Adam, is that he says exactly what he means in the fewest words possible. This can come across as sassy or tongue in cheek but he’s really just being totally honest.
Adam on Feminism: “It’s not that hard. You just have to genuinely perceive women as equal to men. Boom — you’re a feminist. ”
Adam on an Etsy graphic tee that says “We Should All Be Feminists:” “I’m not going to wear that because it shouldn’t be this hard for people to get.”
He’s not trying to be funny. He genuinely doesn’t get it.
Everyone’s favorite topic was one of the first arenas in which Adam taught me how to be a feminist.
Again with the simplicity: Both Adam and I desire each other. Sometimes I want sex, sometimes he does. If one of us doesn’t feel up to it, it’s equally valid no matter who it is. The male and female sexual stereotypes we see in cultural, especially the media, are horribly sexist and destructive. Feminism isn’t about rejecting an old stereotype just to fit into a new one. It’s about rejecting the power of stereotypes and predetermined roles and discovering together what it means to be human in this way. Human = male & female in our unique ways.
REGARDING (the much less popular topic of) HOUSEWORK:
If I do the dishes, Adam says “thank you.” If he does the dishes, I express my gratitude as well. Both are expected. Both are normal.
If we get to the end of a long day and I’m struggling to find motivation to cook anything for dinner he asks why I’m assuming it’s my job and grabs some spaghetti noodles off the shelf.
This was a significant one for me. I’m not sure why. Adam is a triathlete. Triathlon training and racing (and winning) is his passion. He comes alive when he is swimming, biking, running distances and at speeds that no human should actually consider. I love watching his eyes shine and his voice quicken when someone asks him [ABSOLUTELY ANYTHING] about triathlons.
I love supporting him by keeping up with the piles of laundry he accumulates and by leaving notes next to his breakfast in the morning before I leave for my coffee shop shift. I love being on the sidelines at a race, screaming and cheering as he speeds by. I’m his wife and his built-in, life-long supporter.
The hobby I’m passionate about is writing. Words are so powerful and I’ve always found such freedom and clarity in words. Before marrying Adam, I’d never taken my writing too seriously or written more than the occasional blog.
One night I was working on a blog post, sitting cross legged on the couch, as Adam made dinner. He came and sat beside me, put his arm around me and smiled, “Do you want to do more than write blog posts? You love writing. I love you when you’re writing.”
Fast forward ten months and — with Adam’s loud encouragement and insistence — I quit my job to pursue my writing for real. We are in a space and time of our lives where we can do this. Adam loves that his job provides this opportunity for me without the financial stress that it so often attached to it. I’m a good writer and I love to write. Adam is my husband and my built-in, life-long supporter.
When we were first married we made roughly the same amount of money. Is it too obvious to say he wasn’t threatened by that? Well, he wasn’t. In fact, when I got a raise he made jokes about how he found himself a sugar mama.
I have consistently been confronted with men — boyfriends and non-boyfriend man friends — who have been threatened by my opinions and my drive. This is not only super lame but it’s dangerous and as Adam says, “Frankly, they’re missing out.”
Fast forward to the start of my freelance writing career two months ago and I make much less than Adam right now as he supports me in launching this. SO COOL and guess what? It’s not threatening to me either. I can be a strong woman and be financially supported by my husband. Crazy.
Our plan is that once I am established we will switch roles so he can jump into the fitness world full time, maybe even as a pro triathlete. See how easily this works? We’re partners. Supporters of each other. We’re learning to be human = male & female in our unique ways.
What My Husband Has Taught Me About Being a Feminist:
I’m going to take a risk and possibly gravely over-simplify this whole topic: Could it be that what we humans really need in this fight for equality is for men and women to simply truly, actually believe that we are equal in value, ability, and authority, and then proceed accordingly? “Truly, actually believing” is where it gets complicated real fast — but could it be?
Could the pursuit of that simple belief lead us to see that “We’re All Meant to Be Feminists” and BOOM — equality could be an assumption we lead with instead of constantly feeling the need to prove it? Adam and I, we eagerly await the day when equality isn’t such a hard thing for people to understand and we can assume it as the norm.
Thanks, Adam. You’re The Man. Thanks for reminding me every day that I am, indeed, The Woman. Happy Birthday, babe. You’re the best manfriend, lover, and cutest pigeon-toed roomie I’ve ever had.