Once upon a time, I was involved with a guy who was different from other guys. This is a classic line that most women have probably heard but more often than not, it’s a lie. However, he was an exception. He really was different, but not in the way we all romanticize; he was a feminist — or so he claimed to be.
We had known each other for a few weeks before we got involved. I could tell he liked me but I wasn’t interested so I brushed him off and didn’t give him the time of day. One night, we found each other at a party and things between us clicked. We spent the night getting to know one another and just hung out together in that moment. Soon after, he was all I could think about and like all adult relationships, our relationship progressed and quickly grew more intimate within the course of a few short days. As the days passed on, our emotions and feelings for each other grew stronger, and the chemistry between us was evident to everyone around us.
One night, we were laying together in a twin dorm room bed, exchanging stories and smiles when the vibe suddenly changed. His mood switched, and I knew that whatever was coming next would not be in my favor. His lips parted and he asked, “What do you want out of this?” I answered by telling him that I had feelings for him. I also told him that I wasn’t the type of girl that’s only taken to his bedroom, and I like to be taken on dates. His reply was three words that caught me completely off guard. Three words that I was not prepared to hear. I know what you’re thinking, and no, they were not the life-changing eight letters that everyone longs to hear. His three words were “I’m a feminist.”
Now what exactly is a feminist? It seems to be a word we all hear but don’t truly know the meaning of. In simple words, a feminist is a person who believes in equal rights and opportunities for both men and women. I consider myself to be a feminist and respect anyone who also identifies as a feminist, but what did that mean? Failing to decipher his reply in my head, I asked him what he meant. He explained to me that he believed women could sleep around with men without judgment just as men do. It was a statement I agree with, but then he continued to say that he did not believe that men had to be gentleman-like toward women such as holding doors for them, taking them on dates, etc. He was using the word “feminist” as an excuse for sleeping around without commitment or feelings. It’s a concept that’s perfectly reasonable, except when there is emotion already involved in the relationship, which in our case, there was.
From that point on, our encounters included nights spent together spilling our feelings for one another that would be forgotten in the morning. In the presence of the daylight, we would go back to exchanging little to no words. He used feminism as an excuse for staying in, and it eventually grew old. Our relationship fizzled out and soon became extinguished.
Now, every time I hear a privileged college frat boy call himself a feminist, I can’t help but eye-roll and feel sorry for the next girl that falls for him. I can respect a man who identifies as a feminist, and I can respect a man who wants a no-strings-attached relationship, but I cannot respect a man who messes with a woman’s emotions by using feminism as an excuse for a casual fling. If you want a noncommittal relationship, then establish one. Don’t hold my hand, spend the night with me or try to personally connect with me. There is no rule of feminism that states that a feminist cannot have romantic feelings toward a man, or a man cannot be a gentleman towards a woman because it’s degrading. Feminism is not an excuse to leave emotion and commitment out of a relationship, so please don’t use it to break someone’s heart.