Society needs more men who are feminists, and I knew very early on that my husband was one. Although, he would probably call it, “not being an asshole” which, in my opinion, is the greatest modern definition of feminism there is.
The first time I realised my husband was a feminist was in the early days of moving in together…
I was poor as hell and trying to budget. When looking at my monthly expenses and brainstorming ways to cut back, he suggested he chip in for half the cost of my contraceptive pill because that seemed… fair. I didn’t make him pay for half of it, I don’t think I even answered I was too shocked.
Prior to him I hadn’t had many nice boyfriends. From the guy who told me he hated my dog (yes, you read that right.), to the ever-original liars and cheats – this was a big step up.
I knew he was pretty wonderful from quite early in the relationship. We had been friends for a year before dating (we worked together actually) and I had seen how he had treated people. Respectfully, with kindness and particularly when it came to women… just like he treated the men.
The thing that really stood out to me was the attitude towards speaking about women.
When the group from work would go out for drinks and some of the boys would start talking in a less than respectful way he didn’t join in. He didn’t take the old ‘boys will be boys excuse’ and go to town – he just didn’t engage. He didn’t do it in a way that alienated him from the group, he just sat back and took the high road.
A man who can disengage from bad behaviour when it doesn’t align to his values is the ultimate sign of confidence.
Then I went travelling by myself for 3 months (this was planned long before we were dating. In fact, we had just made our relationship ‘a thing’ about a month before I jumped on a plane – great timing!).
The majority of that trip saw me travelling solo. I did sail croatia (amazing – highly recommend!) and a 5 week Contiki Tour through Europe. Then I met up with some girlfriends and visited The Greek Islands and sailed through Turkey.
Not once during that time did he act jealous. Not once during that time did he act worried about me – outside of the normal concern that I got home safely if it was late. He was nothing but supportive and loving. When I felt homesick he would tell me to get out there and enjoy the experience of a lifetime “fill that head with knowledge and then tell me about it”. I honestly don’t know if roles were reversed could I have not been jealous of him galavanting all over Europe (a sign of my own confidence at the time). He was so confident in himself, in our relationship and in what we had he didn’t feel the need to try to control me through emotional games.
He was completely present and supportive.
Fast forward 7 years and he’s progressed in his career to work with a lot of powerful men and powerful women and he does so with ease. All that matters to him in the workplace is that the person he reports to does a good job. In fact, some of the women he works with have become very close and dear friends.
He navigates the corporate world (and all the corporate egos that go with it – be they men or women) in such a relaxed and unflappable way – he has a quiet confidence that is not to be confused with arrogance and it’s a skill I am still trying to master. He didn’t come from a particularly liberal upbringing. He doesn’t consciously think about how he acts, he just is.
My gut tells me that this innate goodness is a little bit of his nature and a whole lot of confidence to be himself. When you don’t need to prove yourself to anyone it frees up a lot of space to be genuine. Labels fall away and you can just get on with things. You can just be a decent guy, a decent human.
So how do we raise feminist men?
I truly want to know. Because one day I may have a son and I want to make sure he grows to act and think about women in the same respectful way.
I’m not a parent yet so I won’t preach about how to raise the perfect son, but I can talk about the things I hope for. I hope for a son who treats all women (friends, acquaintances, colleagues, the barista at the local cafe) with respect. I hope for a son who will speak about women in public and behind closed doors in a way that is kind.
I hope for a son who sees all people as equal regardless of gender.
Like my husband, I hope my son will have the confidence to walk through life being his true self and not fall prey to ‘the boys club’. I suppose I am hoping for a male feminist – not such a tall order when you consider the above!
As you can probably tell, I have so much admiration for my husband and the way he goes through life. This unshakeable sense of self was one of the first things that drew me to him – it’s magnetic when people are this way. I hope if we have a son one day that he’s just like him.
This article isn’t to brag (well maybe a little – after all I’ve dealt with my share of “non feminists” or to use the modern term “assholes”) but it is primarily designed to celebrate men who are everything that is not toxic masculinity. Men who see talent not gender in the workplace. Men who value their daughters and their sons equally. Men who respect their partners because it never occurred to them not to.
These are the strongest most masculine men I know & I am extremely grateful to call one of them my husband.
So I ask you this … How do the men in your life show up? Tell me in the comments below!