Most Asked Questions
Reproductive Rights
Sexual Harassment
Violence Against Women
Women's History

Ask a Question!

Most Asked Questions
Before you ask Amy please check this section to see if you can find the answer to your question! GO>

Meet Amy

Amy's Resource Guide

opting in
Check out Amy's book: Opting In: Having a Child Without Losing Yourself (read an excerpt)



I'm a male feminist university student, although I have only recently been forcing my eyes open to the real damage that patriarchal sexism does to women. However, as soon as I resolved to myself to confront societally imposed sexist ideas wherever I meet them, I find my girlfriend repeating them to me. This consists of emphasizing sexist gender-role stereotypes, like giving me her card to pay for a meal so that she isn't seen to be forward or acquiescing demurely to my suggestions despite me asking for (and statistically equally acquiescing to) her suggestions or opinions on things. She makes comments on how other women are "sluts" to be dressed in a certain manner, and says "it's different for men!" when I debate this with her.

Now, if she were a man, I wouldn't hesitate to confront the internalized sexism that she doesn't seem to be aware of. However, I don't want to overstep my place in the feminist movement—which most people tell me is in educating and confronting men, while leaving women to do the same with women. I think the power relationship is even more messed up because she sees it as part of her "duty" to go along with what I say, and I don't want to use that mechanism to gain her agreement with an ideology if she’s totally opposed to such an idea.

What should I do? I love her and want her to be able to liberate herself from internalized sexism, but I don't want to commit the classic male feminist mistake of feeling entitled to barge in and lay down the law.

Feminism is certainly a work in progress—and I think we continue to make sexist mistakes just because we are all more likely to be conditioned toward sexism than against it. Thus, finding our way out of it is an uncertain route. I think that your girlfriend is partly just "role playing" and doesn't yet know that there are alternatives; or, rather, that there are alternatives that won't punish her. I think that most people (male and female) need a gentle nudge from others—they continue this behavior because they want acceptance, but once they know they will be accepted either way, they warm up to new alternatives. I think that you have to just be frank with her, but also understanding. For instance, ask her questions—i.e. why do you think she's a slut? And what about guys who do the same thing? I think that you are just as entitled to a feminist opinion, and thus, you have to exert that. I don't think it matters if you are male or female—feminism is about disrupting the status quo.




home | what's new | resources | ask amy | news | activism | anti-violence
events | marketplace | about us | e-mail us | join our mailing list

©1995-2011 Feminist.com All rights reserved.