DP says he is not a feminist..

(248 Posts)
andintothefire Thu 17-Nov-16 12:02:58

We were having a discussion yesterday and my DP announced that he was not and never would be a feminist. I tried to explain to him that feminism doesn't involve misandry or promoting women over men. He was adamant that it was not a term he would use and laughed at the suggestion that some men also wear "This is what a feminist looks like" t-shirts.

I know it shouldn't upset me because he is in his actions very kind and has a daughter who he is very supportive of in terms of education and ambition. He also has no problem at all with me being ambitious and career minded. However it did shake me a bit. I have always previously been in relationships with men who are much more open minded (and more left wing in their views - though this is obviously separate to the feminism issue). It also reminded me of a conversation we had a few weeks ago where he said that I have influenced him not to forward or laugh at sexist emails because he knows I wouldn't like it. I don't want him not to forward them because I wouldn't like it - I want him to realise it is wrong!

It is actually making me wobble about the relationship. Is that a massive over reaction? He really is lovely, but there is a part of me that wonders if our outlook, upbringing and education just make us too divergent on these sorts of issues, especially when I think about having children together.

I suppose I am just posting to start a discussion and to hear views on this..

VestalVirgin Thu 17-Nov-16 12:32:25

While I have no problem with men not wanting to call themselves feminists in principle, his reasons seem ... worrying, to say the least.

There are women who are very wary of self-proclaimed male feminists, and for a man to say that he agrees with feminism but doesn't want to call himself a feminist, would be okay.

But it seems that is not the case with him? Yeah, I would react rather shocked to that. (To be honest, I would try to find that out before getting into a relationship)

I would not make any permanent committments with this man, like moving in with him, buying a house together, having children ...

If you have the time, you can wait and see if more deep orange flags appear.

Seachangeshell Thu 17-Nov-16 12:39:49

So he doesn't want to declare himself a feminist but you haven't said whether he's expressed any sexist views. From your op it sounds like he is supportive of you and his daughter in a way that's not sexist. Has he done/ said anything sexist?

StrictlyPan Thu 17-Nov-16 12:44:30

I think you have to have a very even-handed view and cerainly not go down the 'flag specrtrum' route.
- as usual, look at things that people do not what they say necessarily.
- not laughing or fwding such mails is a good thing and he has been open to influences and he sees why they are 'wrong'.
- lots of men, such as me, dislike the 'male feminist' tag.
- you can be assured he isn't a male looking for feminist cookies, at least.

You haven't said anything about your 'divergent views' on education or upbringing children. Are we supposed to specualte?

Yeah I'd say there's a bit of an over-reaction. And even the most 'right on males' can be odd about children's upbringing - it will likely reflect how they were brought up rather than an attachment to feminism or anything else.

hth

BratFarrarsPony Thu 17-Nov-16 12:46:35

it could be the word itself that is putting him off...
Does he treat you well?
Does he expect equal opportunities for his daughter?
How would he react if his daughter wanted to study maths and engineering?

andintothefire Thu 17-Nov-16 12:47:41

Thanks VestalVirgin - I appreciate the response.

I don't have any concerns about his behaviour towards me. I have always been very upfront about my views and my ambitions. I have no concern, for example, that he would expect me to do the lion's share of childcare or to put my career on hold. I suppose it's more that I'm struggling with his failure to understand why feminism is important and perhaps also his lack of appreciation of the issues that women face. Similarly, we are quite different politically - I am a labour member because I am concerned about many of the issues faced by people in this country and he doesn't seem to be very bothered about issues that don't affect him and his immediate family.

I don't want to turn this into a navel gazing discussion about my relationship however - I am just interested in particular to hear how other people's (male) partners view feminism and whether anybody else has similar concerns about their partners perhaps viewing it only as an issue affecting women.

andintothefire Thu 17-Nov-16 12:48:55

Thanks also to others for responses - cross post!

andintothefire Thu 17-Nov-16 12:53:50

In terms of sexist behaviour, it's only the emails thing that shocked me slightly. I was brought up by a father who used to find sexist email "jokes" sent to him by colleagues etc completely wrong and disrespectful, and didn't imagine that I'd be in a relationship with somebody who had ever forwarded or laughed at them! But again, perhaps an over reaction if he is now at least recognising that they are sexist.

Dozer Thu 17-Nov-16 12:57:19

My DH would certainly not identify with feminism before having DDs, and would still not express his concern about equality in that way now.

He would probably laugh at sexist jokes, but not while I was around.

Despite my efforts, he still doesn't really "get" it, eg has moaned about some of his female friends seeming anxious/stressed since becoming parents.

His actions are good, though. He does his fair share of parenting and domestic work, we make decisions together, manage money together, both work flexibly, do stuff with the DC etc.

Lorelei76 Thu 17-Nov-16 12:58:01

one reason I'm low-contact with my dad is I found out about some of this kind of sexism - I mean, he'd never have stopped his daughters doing anything but then laughs at sexist "jokes" because he thinks they are jokes. He would simlarly make stupid jokes about, for example, men being unable to look after children, which mystifies me because he could...but he thinks most men are incapable of it. Not so much sexist but more bonkers perhaps in his case.

I wouldn't even date someone who found sexist jokes funny but I realise that doesn't help you. Not sure I could deal with it easily.

Dozer Thu 17-Nov-16 12:59:03

My father would similarly be aghast at sexist jokes, and is in many ways ahead of his times, eg worked flexibly for years while DM studied and worked, does 3 days a week childcare for his GC from when they were babies, but he did fuck all housework!

claraschu Thu 17-Nov-16 12:59:36

My husband and two sons are all feminists, though only one of them has called himself that in my hearing. The thing that would worry me here is:
he doesn't seem to be very bothered about issues that don't affect him and his immediate family. This seems to go along with not being able to see that women's issues are not just women's problem.

I might be put off by someone who had such a selfish outlook, but that is just one side of his character of course.

OneOrgasmicBirthPlease Thu 17-Nov-16 13:11:23

A couple of things occurred to me.

First of all, feminism is very much a leftist project, in as much as it is concerned with the emancipation of a disenfranchised group. In that sense, your partner’s political leanings are relevant here.

I agree with clara’s concerns about your partner’s reluctance to see problems affecting others as relevant to him.

None of us are free until we are all free.

The fundamental political selfishness he is displaying would worry me coupled with his clear lack of empathy for others, particularly those who he sees as not like him.

Seachangeshell Thu 17-Nov-16 13:17:18

Sounds like he's just a bit meh about politics to me. Lots of people are like that aren't they?
I asked my husband if he's a feminist. He said Um, er, I suppose I am. Is that the right answer?
He was joking about the last bit obviously. We often discuss feminist issues and he broadly agrees with me on most things. I think he thinks saying that you're a feminist only seems right if you're a woman.

andintothefire Thu 17-Nov-16 13:22:57

OneOrgasmic - the political differences do bother me a bit, but I am aware that (particularly in my current profession) I am more left wing than most, and I don't want to write off otherwise very good people just because they have slightly different economic or political views. He is more an apathetic Tory / Lib Dem voter, but definitely doesn't have as much political empathy as I do.

You're right that his political leanings are probably related to his views on feminism. The thing is that he really is a good person - I just don't think he has had as much exposure as I have had to feminist or political discourse. Our backgrounds aren't very different, but I have previously worked in much more left wing environments and did more activism as a student, whereas he grew up in a small town and didn't really spend his time at university doing much other than going out!

It seems wrong to want to change his views, but I think it is more that he needs shaking up to see the world outside his immediate bubble.

SpeakNoWords Thu 17-Nov-16 13:23:04

Did he say why he didn't agree with feminism? That would seem important to me? Is it just a question of labelling, or is there something specific that he objects to about feminism?

I have to say that I'd struggle to be in a relationship with someone who held very different political views to me.

OneOrgasmicBirthPlease Thu 17-Nov-16 13:24:39

DP is a male feminist. We talk about gender at home a lot, and he challenges the workplace sexism he encouters. However, even before my not-so-subtle indoctrination into feminism, he would never forward sexist emails/make sexist comments/avoid domestic responsibilities. To me, that is a basic standard I expect of someone who might be sharing my life.

Please do not feel grateful that your current partner does not feel threatened by your career and ambition. You can expect better.

Also, from personal experience of a committed femininst, this becomes a burning issue once kids arrive. Here is a very old thread of mine about splitting domestic chores once babies are involved. Long and boring, sorry. What I am trying to say is that you are right to be worried.

OneOrgasmicBirthPlease Thu 17-Nov-16 13:28:34

intothefire I can understand that.

In that case, you can see how he copes with an education. Again, don't feel as though you are wrong to want him to change his views.

If your partner was only a little bit racist, would you not want him to see the light? People can change their opinions and open-mindedness is another very important trait I like in a life partner.

LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Thu 17-Nov-16 13:30:52

I think you need to know why he doesn't agree with feminism. Lots of women say they don't too. The women I know who say they're not feminists have (imo) been done over by the media labelling and perception of feminism and think because they work part-time and like traditionally female things that feminism isn't 'for them'.

There is also a school of thought that says men 'can't^ be feminists because they aren't women.

I'd judge by action, rather than label. But I think what you're seeing is a general disinclination to engage in the political landscape... someone who doesn't really look beyond their front door. That wouldn't suit me and it's ok if it doesn't suit you either.

confuugled1 Thu 17-Nov-16 13:38:32

Have you asked him what he thinks a feminist is? And what it means when a man says he is a feminist vs what it means when a woman says she is a feminist?

Sometimes people talk at complete cross purposes because although they are using the same words, they put a different meaning behind them and I reckon that feminist is one word that often gets used to mean so many different things (or should that be the same thing but on so many different levels?).

Finding out exactly what he means by a feminist would be a good start - and maybe phrasing examples by putting it about his dd when she grows up would help to discover how feminist he is in his attitudes. So - do you expect dd to be paid the same as a man doing the exact same job when she grows up or do you think she should be paid less, given that everything else is equal? is a good starter, plus maybe asking him to forward you a couple of the sexist emails he gets but change the man and woman bits over to see if you find them funny then... Or to put his dd into the woman's role. Not saying that you will of course, but having to actively change them so that they are saying something horrible about him or men in general might make him stop and think more.

It's also worth finding out exactly how not feminist he is on the scale of 'not bothered, don't care, irrelevant' to 'hate feminists, feminism is wrong, men are best'...

A slight aside - Saw on the news today that an American dictionary has made a change to its definition of femininity after somebody spotted they had 'despite being made CEO she hadn't lost any of her femininity' as an example and tweeting them to point out that they hadn't used 'despite being made CEO he hadn't lost any of his masculinity' as an example for masculinity. Could be the start of an interesting conversation.

claraschu Thu 17-Nov-16 13:40:26

When I see what is going on in the world at the moment, I get less tolerant of people who can't be bothered with politics, like the 116,000,000 of my fellow Americans who didn't bother to vote last week.

However, your partner sounds like he just might not have thought very deeply about some important issues. As long as he is open minded, I don't see why he can't start to consider and reflect a bit more.

libprog Thu 17-Nov-16 13:54:13

"he is in his actions very kind and has a daughter who he is very supportive of in terms of education and ambition.

a part of me that wonders if our outlook, upbringing and education just make us too divergent on these sorts of issues, especially when I think about having children together."

Are you sure that that is what you are worried about? Because you just praised him for it. Sounds more like you are just pissed off at his behavior and only use this as an excuse.

libprog Thu 17-Nov-16 14:04:05

Do all of you that find sexist jokes completely inappropriate (even going so far to say you would not date someone who laughed at them), also find racist jokes completely inappropriate? Either hypocritical or surprising, giving the UK is known for its black humor.

I do agree that emails where there is evidence and with coworkers is wrong (though that still doesn't make him a horrible person) in the sense that if a comedian does a joke it's clear (or should be) that it is a joke, or if you joke with someone you know well, there is an understanding it's a joke, it's not meant serious. But as soon as you do something in public it will be open to (mis)interpretation and fosters normalization of the attitudes expressed in the joke.

VestalVirgin Thu 17-Nov-16 14:04:51

I am just interested in particular to hear how other people's (male) partners view feminism and whether anybody else has similar concerns about their partners perhaps viewing it only as an issue affecting women.

I have no problem with men viewing patriarchal oppression as an issue that only affects women. It is something that disproportionately affects women, and its negative effects on men are hardly noticeable.

However, I could not be in a relationship with a man who doesn't love me enough to want to free me from patriarchal oppression.

This is a matter of loyalty.

I, as a white person, do not feel affected by racism. I am not very involved in any anti-racism movement, either. However, I am very much against racism in principle, and would never laugh about, or even forward, racist jokes.

And that is what I expect from men when it comes to sexism/misogyny.

"Oh, I wouldn't say I am a feminist, apart from signing the occasional petition I don't do much feminist activism", is fine.

"I dislike feminism and therefore don't consider myself a feminist" is not.

Dozer Thu 17-Nov-16 14:09:14

Er, no one has said they like racist jokes.

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