The concept of love, romance, and relationships have existed since the existence of humans. However, as we continue to evolve, the dynamics of such relationships have continued to change. One of the factors that have majorly affected/ influenced heterosexual relationships today is the emergence of feminism.
Before feminism, the roles in heterosexual relationships were very rigid, men were to “choose” women, court them and act as sole providers. Women, on the other hand, had to perfect the art of being the “chosen” one, and become the nurturer in the relationship. As feminism became mainstream, women found their voice and decided to stand up against systems that reinforced these roles.
This has affected a lot of relationship dynamics.
For example, there’s the popular fallacy that feminists are misandrists, man-hating witches who hate and detest men. Not only is this false, but it is baseless too. There’s no aspect of feminism that dictates that. However, this has proven to be a major issue for feminists who are looking to have romantic relationships. Feminists complain that the dating pool is smaller for them, as there are only a few men who believe in equality enough and do not find dating a feminist, “threatening”.
There’s also the issue of women expressing their romantic and sexual side and it has affected the relationship dynamics. Traditional cultural views believe and reinforce that women should be conservative about sex and romance and how they address it. In the past, women who expressed themselves and how they felt about sex were perceived to be ” loose” and “wayward”. Now, thanks to feminism, women are taking a stand by initiating romantic relationships that they want, asking men that they like on dates without having to wait for them to be “picked”.
This is such a refreshing change, as it has also affected how women now view romantic relationships. It is no longer an achievement to be with a man, and men are no longer the prize. Hence, women are now speaking up and asserting how they would like to be treated by their romantic partners.
However, some aspects of romantic relationships are still quite resistant to the change, like marriages, for example. Because marriages are solely built on society’s expectations and norms, it is very difficult to adjust. A lot of men still believe that they should be sole providers for their families, even when their wives can help out financially.
Truly, feminism has affected relationships, but mostly for the better. One study found that women in relationships with feminist men reported healthier relationships, both in terms of quality and long-term stability than those in relationships with non-feminist men.
Erasing the traditional scripts of romance for relationships will not only be beneficial for women but also men too. One major reason is that it’ll reduce the burden on men to be in “control” of the relationship. It will also give room for men to express their emotions and romantic feelings better, outside the societal construct of “toxic masculinity”.
The main aim of gender equality in heterosexual relationships is to provide a levelled ground for both parties to be able to express themselves fully, within the confines of their relationship without having to constantly worry about meeting up society’s expectations of their relationships.