F*cking A Feminist While (Sort Of) A Feminist: A Dude's Perspective

And not just any dude: my partner gets a say.

When a man says he's a feminist, some assume he's just trying to get laid. I call myself egalitarian rather than feminist — because then people ask what it means.

Egalitarianism, for me, means treating people as individuals as much possible, regardless of their group identities. That doesn't necessarily mean treating everyone exactly the same, but it means that I try to consider things like the Golden Rule (pick your version) and John Rawls' 'veil of ignorance.' More importantly, it's about relating to individuals as individuals, rather than as stand-ins for whatever class to which they might belong. Anything else is just collective punishment (or, in some cases, collective reward, which is just as unwarranted).

But when it comes to relationships, intimacy isn't about civics. I suppose if I was truly egalitarian I'd be bisexual, but I'm not... I guess we can't all live up to the utmost application of our principles. But principles still apply. I have one I won't waver from: "enthusiastic consent." If she doesn't really want to be there, I don't want to be there at all. Maybe at base that's vanity; but if the other person isn't really, really into it, I'm not really into it. On the same note, I expect reciprocity; if I don't want to be there, I expect that she doesn't want to be there, either.

Sex is supposed to be a mutual experience, not just one person taking from the other. What I value is mutual return of affection, and I value the other person, and expect that the other person values me.

That's why I'm not really a one-night stand kind of guy, because it makes the whole relationship seem too disposable. I feel like they devalue the connection between the people involved, and I don't want to feel that way nor make someone else feel that way.

In terms of being in a relationship with a feminist is like (besides the fact that she doesn't like that I call myself an egalitarian instead), I'll relate the following story: We were out at a busy restaurant the other night, and an obviously inebriated woman came to sit down and chat at our table. (This is not as unusual in New York as it sounds.) We were talking about her boyfriend, for whom she was throwing a party in the cellar, and our check came, which we split. This did not please our dinner guest. We tried to explain that we wanted to split the check, that it was our anniversary and that's how we wanted to celebrate. The woman insisted, "...but don't you see, he wants to buy you things! He likes the pleasure of your company!" And I sort of got lost in wondering whether or not she was calling me a whoremonger, and whether she saw relationships as transactions, so I didn't say what I should have said, which was, "it's our anniversary gift to each other." Good thing Megan said it instead.

F*cking A Feminist While (Sort Of) A Feminist: A Dude's Perspective

Kanpeki Yume on Flickr" />