(copyright-estate of Norman Rockwell-featured image source James Vaughan)
Some believe that the 1950s were the best times in America and that we have only gotten worse from there. One of those people is columnist Dave Hon, who in his article “Why I’ll never date a Feminist” states that feminism and any other form of gender politicking decimates romantic relationships. He believes that a happy couple is one that adheres to strict gender roles and never questions anything about the world as Hon does not want to date a human being, he wants a robot that looks like Scarlett Johansson. It’s the same kind of mentality in practice when Saudi Arabian officials state that the reason women can’t drive is because it would “undermine social values.”
Hon also believes that gender politics are the reason why women are unhappier now more than ever and that relationships have turned into a battle of ideologies rather than ignorant passivity masking itself as “love”. Perhaps the reason why woman are getting unhappier is that since they are now as equitably educated as men, they have become more aware about the ways in which they are systemically denied autonomy on a daily basis. I suppose Hon’s idea is that women simply suck up lower rates of employment, income, business ownership, politics and research opportunities, and focus on what counts; making “love” work.
Donald Trump said of his wives becoming successful in business that “unfortunately, after they’re a star, the fun is over for me”, stating that he missed the “softness” of his first wife Ivana after he put her to work for him.
These factors feed into the Norman Rockwell fantasy of relationships whereby individual needs and communication are stifled in favor of a pleasant facade of amiability and complacency. The meta-narrative of the man being the protector and the woman being the nurturer is held up as a survival mechanism with the only way to survive being not to question it. Narratives such as these are perpetuated by a ruling class in order to keep their societal power and suppress challenges to it, hence, why people like Hon want to take feminism out of relationships.
Philosopher Erich Fromm stated “love is an ordination of character which determines the relatedness of the person to the whole world, not toward one object of love.” In that way feminism is key in relationships as it helps people become aware of their role in a narrative obsessed world, and what they do to heal/subvert it. Feminism connects people by helping them understand how others view the world and how in doing so cultivates relationships that are equitably fulfilling with many opportunities to develop and mature instead of adhering to Hallmark card narratives about “love”. Yet feminism does not promise a romantic panacea; rather it creates better pathways for couples to understand each other and see if they can really work out. Romance can be exquisite, but I think better knowing our fellow humans is a far more important pursuit.