A Guy Shouldn’t Get A Point For Being A Feminist—It Should Be The Bare Minimum

When you hear the term “feminist boyfriend,” you might think of the “Hey Girl” Ryan Gosling meme. He’s the type of boyfriend who supports your career and women’s issues and who believes in equality of the sexes. However, giving your boyfriend the feminist title poses a few problems.

  1. It makes him seem rare. The minute you put a label on a certain kind of guy, like by saying he’s a “feminist boyfriend,” you immediately make him seem really rare, like the great guy you never seem to meet on dating apps. This encourages a mindset that great guys are extinct, when really they’re out there—just maybe not bragging about how feminist they are.
  2. It’s about respect. When you say you want a feminist boyfriend, you probably mean that you want a guy who respects you and cares about your feelings. Um, do you really need a fancy label for that? Shouldn’t you be looking for respect anyway?
  3. He’s just a regular guy. When a guy calls himself a feminist, you might put him up on a pedestal. Yes, it might be tough to find men who are truly pro-women, but they shouldn’t become extra special for doing really normal things, like caring about you. You shouldn’t be “wowed” by feminist dudes because they should be the norm! They can’t be the norm if you’re making them out to be unicorns.
  4. You can appreciate him without exaggerating his greatness. Any guy who respects and supports the woman in his life should be given a big thumbs-up, but let’s just call them what they are: good, respectful, decent guys. That’s what it boils down to—they don’t need to be seen as superhuman greatness to be worthy.
  5. What about the guys who aren’t calling themselves feminists? They can still be decent guys who support women. Hear me out. Maybe they don’t like the term “feminist” (just like some women don’t) or they don’t really understand what the movement is about. It’s unfair to think that if he’s not taking on the label, he’s a bad guy.
  6. Let’s not make it a thing. If you start making the term “feminist boyfriend” a thing, then you risk falling into the Nice Guy Syndrome all over again: you’re so desperate to find this kind of guy and guys pick up on it. Soon, they’re throwing that term around to get women, even if they’re not nice guys or don’t care about feminist issues. Ugh.
  7. Feminism is not a one size fits allFor one woman, a feminist boyfriend could be a man who likes her independence and supports her ambitions. For another woman, a feminist boyfriend is chivalrous. There’s not just one kind of feminist or feminist boyfriend, so why don’t we just see people for their unique qualities and what kind of specific qualities we actually want in a partner to be happy, instead of getting bogged down by a label?
  8. It’s way too complicated. If you’re so worried about what makes or what doesn’t make a feminist boyfriend, you’re complicating things and putting loads of unnecessary pressure on yourself. For instance, by feeling guilty that you’re seen as anti-feminist if you don’t date a guy who feels he’s a feminist boyfriend, which is total BS!
  9. You’re making it about men. If you care so much that a guy wears the “feminist label” with pride, you’re giving him too much attention. The women who fought for feminist rights would dread seeing us put so much attention on men instead of ourselves.
  10. The advice for men is absurd. There are many articles online that give men tips on how to be feminist boyfriends. Some tips include being supportive to one’s partner and sharing the issue of contraception. This isn’t newsworthy at all. It’s something that all women should be demanding and expecting. If we create the culture where men who do these things are feminists, then we’re actually lowering our standards by being impressed by guys who aren’t even putting in much effort.
  11. It creates arrogant men. You’re basically saying men have to do certain things to make women happy, and if they do this, then they rise through the ranks to wear the great title. The result? Men think that they can get the title just by being chivalrous or listening to a woman’s opinion. It’s actually pretty sexist to assume that women will fall over them for basic decency.
  12. We can’t categorize men according to a few behaviors. If your boyfriend does one pro-feminism thing, it doesn’t mean he’s a feminist. He supports your career? Great, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’s a feminist. He might love the opera, but that doesn’t mean he’s cultured. He might love reading, but that doesn’t mean he’s intelligent. You need to stop looking for signs that someone’s a feminist boyfriend and then hold onto them. You need to see what men really are like overall and over time and if they really deserve that label.
  13. He shouldn’t force it. A guy should be genuinely nice and treat you the way you want to be treated, not the way he thinks you should be treated based on some articles he’s read. If he has generally nice qualities, he’s a good person and doesn’t have to force the idea of being a “feminist boyfriend.” You don’t want someone to fake it. You want them to be who they are, otherwise you’re just dating a label that really means nothing.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.