Age thirty-two, purple-haired, and dressed in several warm layers, I boarded the charter bus with the giddiness of a 14-year-old girl. This wasn't my first protest, but it was the first time I was traveling to our nation's capital for one. And with my young daughter in tow.
I had planned for the Women's March for months and it felt momentous. Once in our bus seats, I snapped a selfie of me and my five-year-old daughter, donned in our pink glow necklaces. We beamed with excitement.
I texted the picture to my husband with a string of strong arm emojis (in all available skin tones, of course). He texted back: "You are a pretty cool person/woman/mom/wife."
I smiled. He typed the word "person" first, above all of my other roles and identities. He was speaking my "love language." (Not that I believe in that new age, love language, horse dookie anyway, but you get my drift.)
I texted back: "Haha thx, I know."
It wasn't always this way.
When I first met my husband in college, he seemed pretty progressive. The guy took Women's Studies classes for godsakes (back when they were still called that). He cleaned his own townhouse, he cooked his own meals, did dishes, and took care of his own laundry (including ironing). He didn't deserve a gold star for any of this, but I confess — his penchant for traditional "female" tasks was a big turn-on for me.
We eventually moved in together and that's when I noticed a shift. I suddenly found myself doing all the grocery shopping, all the cooking, and all the cleaning. When we got married and had kids, it intensified. Our unconscious slip into traditional gender roles felt like I was falling from the top of one of those huge water park slides. It was so fast, I didn't have time to get off, and when it was over, I hardly knew what hit me.
We were NOT living equally and I couldn't figure out how the hell I let that happen. Me, the loud-mouth, liberal feminist. It was baffling.
The only plausible explanation I can come up with is that I must have been so tired and exhausted from getting through each day, with all of my extra "womanly" tasks, that I barely had the energy to discuss it or change it. I was too busy existing in my current state to be bothered with calling out my husband for his sexist behavior.
The dishes had to get done. The laundry had to get done. In many ways, it was easier to just stay status quo than waste my breath bitching about it.
My husband's career skyrocketed as he benefited from all of my free labor and energy. Hell, my career would have been bananas too if the only thing I had to worry about all day was wiping my own ass.
Let me be frank: my husband worked hard and deserved the promotions he received, but he would have never been able to do any of it without putting the double burden on me. The extra time I spent caring about domestic duties and child-rearing (that he didn't) effectively stole time away from my professional aspirations, passions, and curiosities. My work was undervalued, entirely gendered, and completely unjust.
I wasn't hatin' on my man because feminists are not man-haters (despite what you may have heard). That'd be anti-feminism. But I was pretty resentful. Gaining equality in the world was always a battle, but damn, in my own home? Hell no, not cool.
So I had to remind him that he married a woman that prefers equality (my survival, sanity, and dignity depend on it). Here are 13 things that happen when you love a feminist.
1. You become a great listener.
We've been getting mansplained and condescended our whole lives, so you're going to have to STFU and sit down for a second. We want you to talk, just not over us.
2. You'll never want to tell a woman to "smile" again.
Women are not here on this earth to make YOU feel better. If a woman not smiling makes you uncomfortable, that is your problem. Does anyone ask a guy to smile if he's sad, angry, bored, focused? No. Telling a woman to smile is a form of gender-based harassment and it can happen anywhere, including your own home.
Examples of gender-based street harassment include a male passerby telling a woman to "cheer up" or "smile, baby." Or it can happen at home when your partner tells you, "you're so much prettier when you smile." It's rude AF and if you cozy up with a feminist they'll tell you to STFU about this smiling crap.
3. You start to see subtle signs of sexism, discrimination, and misogyny...and it pisses you off.
Hearing common sexist phrases like "you fight like a girl" or "you throw like a girl" will now be interpreted as insults, as they should be.
4. You'll learn about your own implicit biases.
We get used to seeing the same images: women as nurses, caretakers, ballerinas, and men as doctors, construction workers, football players. Whether we realize it or not, these default images impact how we identify and categorize things in our brains. Sometimes, we get so stuck in these patterns that our sexism becomes subconscious.
5. You may start to distance yourself from co-workers, friends, and family members who are sexist.
The sexist jokes and comments made in your presence or on social media will feel cringe-worthy. Some in your closest circles will deny the existence of sexism, based purely off the fact that it doesn't affect them.
"That's bullsh*t, women are equal now," they'll say. Which is precisely what privilege is. Denying the existence of something because you aren't personally impacted by it. You may find yourself trying to educate loved ones or friends about sexism, or you may find it easier to just ghost them.
6. You'll see how the advertising and entertainment industry sexualizes and objectifies women's bodies.
You might even boycott brands because of it.
7. You start questioning your own upbringing and gender roles.
My husband was raised in a Persian family and grew up in the South. Extreme politeness is the cornerstone of both of his cultures, and the burden of the courtesy dance noticeably falls on the women more than the men. They're expected to do the inviting, the cooking, the cleaning, the thanking, the goodbyes, and the follow-up thank you's.
That's a lot of unpaid physical and emotional labor that men aren't expected to do. As a dad of two young daughters, I implored him to really figure out if he wanted his daughters to be groomed in the same ways he witnessed growing up. Ultimately, he did not.
8. You understand consent and practice it.
Your partner doesn't owe you sex and you are not entitled to it. Sex is a mutually consensual and jointly pleasurable experience. It doesn't matter if you've known your partner for one minute, one month, or married for forty-five years — consent is always required.
9. Splitting domestic duties 50/50 never felt so good.
According to research, men who share domestic tasks with their wives report being happier and have more sex. When a woman isn't overburdened or exhausted from "second shift," she has more energy for sex and is probably in a way better mood. Vacuuming is not a boner shrinker, it's foreplay.
10. You'll want to start working with more women because you'll start to truly respect them professionally.
11. You become woke AF to racism, transphobia, islamophobia, and xenophobia.
Observing the inequalities and discrimination in sexism may be your gateway to total wokeness.
12. You become more empathetic.
You do not have to walk in anyone's shoes or understand what they've been through to be empathetic. If you fall in love with a feminist, they will show you how to connect on a personal and universal level to pretty much any and all human beings.
13. You want to make the world a better place for future generations, even if you don't have kids of your own and never plan to.
Part of a feminist's mission and legacy is making the world a better place for everyone, including people not even born yet.
Bringing women up doesn't mean tearing men down. Bringing disabled, Muslim, POC, transgender, gay, or any other marginalized group of people up doesn't mean bringing the cis gender white man down.
It means we address the real injustices and hardships facing these people. It means we level the playing field. It means we hold the collective belief that when one rises, we all rise. It means we love, and if you fall in love with a feminist, you're part way there.
This article originally appeared on YourTango.
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