The answer might seem obvious, but there's more to this question beneath the surface that you should seriously consider.
When we’re thinking of Mr. Right, there are some basic qualities that almost all of us can agree are important. Respecting us, seeing women as equals, and heck, maybe even understanding the challenges that are specific to women would be nice. I mean, who wouldn’t want a guy who sympathizes with having monthly cramps or what it’s like to be a woman in a male-dominated field?
As feminism has gained popularity over the last decade, especially in popular culture, the answer to our dating preferences might seem obvious: Date a male feminist! They’re all about equality, and as the label would suggest, are interested in seeing things from the female perspective.
However! Though judging people solely on labels is never a good idea, there are some aspects of feminism, notably radical feminism, that can cause issues in a relationship. So here are some possible behaviors you might encounter when dating a male feminist, and why they should give you pause.
He Sees Men As Predators
Like many of us learned during high school (unfortunately!), women who only have negative things to say about other women are a huge red flag. And likewise, a potential boyfriend who seems overly preoccupied with the idea that men as a whole are predatory is probably someone to be wary of.
If a man sees all men as predators, he’s likely had trouble surrounding himself with positive male influences in his life. While of course none of us choose our family members, when it comes to friends, we, fortunately, do have the choice of whom we associate with. If a guy has made it into adulthood without being able to cultivate a circle of supportive male friends, it’s a warning sign that he’s drawing the wrong types of people into his life.
A male feminist might be projecting the darker aspects of himself onto all other males.
Alternatively, there’s also the possibility that a male feminist might be projecting the darker aspects of himself onto all other males. If that’s the case, he’s definitely not the one!
He Attacks Femininity (in You and Other Women)
Makeup, cooking, clothes, and fairytale love stories are some of the things that make being a girl fun. They may not be exclusive to women, but they are areas where we get to exemplify our femininity. According to the more extreme branches of feminism though, each one of them is also a way for a patriarchal system to exert its influence over women.
If you’re someone who isn’t interested in traditionally “girly” activities, this won’t be an issue, but if you are? It definitely wouldn’t be fun to date someone who’s convinced that your interests are just a sign of your subservience to a male-centric society…
And at a more extreme end, there are even radical feminists who have gone so far as to question whether motherhood and marriage can be “empowering” for women. Some aspects of relationships are negotiable, but when it comes to marriage and children, going into a relationship without common goals is a recipe for heartbreak.
He Sees You As a Victim
Having a boyfriend, and eventually, husband, who supports you and understands the struggles you’ve been through and continue to face is part of a healthy relationship. And since many male feminists seem so quick to point out areas where women (at least in their minds) are being marginalized, this type of sensitivity might seem like a positive trait in a partner, right?
Well, it depends. Having a man who understands the challenges that you, as an individual, have had to overcome is valuable. But someone who sees the world as being inherently stacked against you may be less likely to encourage you to reach for your goals. After all, wouldn’t encouraging a girlfriend to accomplish something, when there are apparently loads of institutional and social barriers in her way, seem counterintuitive?
Someone who sees the world as being inherently stacked against you may be less likely to encourage you to reach for your goals.
And even more seriously, someone who believes that any failures on your part are just due to systemic discrimination may be detrimental to your personal growth. What sets a great boyfriend apart from a good boyfriend is his willingness to help you overcome your own shortcomings. But if any drawbacks you have are blamed on a patriarchal system, how can your partner hold you accountable and encourage you to improve and develop yourself?
So, should you date a male feminist? Ultimately, dismissing a potential boyfriend on labels alone usually isn’t a good idea, and this is no exception. If you’re really interested in someone, it’s worth getting to know them in greater detail, but just be aware that a man calling himself a feminist isn’t necessarily a sign that your Prince Charming has arrived.