How to Be a Feminist Girlfriend

While we fantasize about finding the perfect feminist boyfriend, the burden of bringing feminism into a hetero relationship often lies with the lady — like so many other burdens of relationships! So here are a few ways to bring an egalitarian spirit to your coupledom:

1. Talk about “women’s” issues as if they are not “women’s” issues but “human” issues. Because, you know, they are. Who wins if we have birth control, healthy reproductive systems, and equal pay? Our guys, who get to have consequence-free sex and more money coming into the household.

2. Have honest conversations about your sex life. Sure, yeah, talk about diseases and all that, of course. But talk about the fun stuff, too, which can oddly be more uncomfortable than the setting boundaries/STD chat. The longer you’re together, the more this is necessary. If you love or hate something he’s doing all the time, he needs to know; and that works the other way, too. Try both filling out a Yes/No/Maybe list (you can find these by searching online), which is exactly what it sounds like — a long list of sexual possibilities, for which you each circle yes, no, or maybe. (There are also lists that allow a more subtle 1-5 ranking system.) Then compare lists. Any yeses or maybes that match mean you have new stuff to try. Easy and fun!

3. Be responsible about protection. Condoms, pills, IUDs, whatever you need. They must be clearly discussed and implemented the second that sex is a possibility. This helps you avoid a Knocked Up situation, which, in our opinion, is a terrifying depiction of commitment wrapped in a perfectly funny movie.

4. Try to calm down about money. We know, it’s hard for us, too. But it’s okay if sometimes he’s handling more of the expenses if he makes more money than you do; it’s also okay if sometimes you are. As long as everyone feels like things are going logically and fairly.

5. Try to calm down about chores and cooking. Just figure out a policy that works for both of you and stick to it. The main thing is not to fume silently while washing the dishes alone every night. Dudes don’t always realize the centuries of resentment that have been passed down through generations of women. If you guys work it out ahead of time, then everyone should feel okay about the arrangement, whether or not he or she is super-thrilled about crusty dishes that day.

6. Call yourself a “feminist.” We just like putting that on any of our to-do lists. It also tells him from the start that you’re expecting equality, and equality, whether he knows it or not, is hot.



Author: Jennifer Keishin Armstrong

Jennifer Keishin Armstrong grew up deep in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, then escaped to New York to live in a succession of very small apartments and write about pop culture. In the process, she became a feminist, a Buddhist, and the singer/guitarist in an amateur rock band. She also spent a decade on staff at Entertainment Weekly, cofounded, and now writes for several publications, including Women’s Health, Runner’s World, Writer’s Digest, Fast Company, and New York‘s Vulture. Her history of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted, will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2013; her collaboration with Heather Wood Rudulph, Sexy Feminism, will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2013. She is the author of the Why? Because We Still Like You, a history of the original Mickey Mouse Club published by Grand Central in 2010. She has provided pop culture commentary for CNN, VH1, A&E, and ABC, and teaches article writing and creative writing. Follow her on Twitter: @jmkarmstrong


  1. [...] Set Standards that Matter. Throw tall, dark, and handsome out the window and call in smart, funny, and spontaneous or any qualities you deem important in a potential love interest. Seek fit and a chemistry that keeps you buzzing. Date men who understand what it means to be a feminist woman and one who isn’t afraid of letting you know he’s a feminist man. Date men who have no problem talking to you about sex and are mature enough to have open communication and want an equal partnership. Then hold up a mirror and make sure you’re following the same standards. [...]

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