A few thoughts on the nature of feminist lovin’

As much as I resist a commercialized expression of love, I can’t resist an opportunity to reflect on the nature of it. Valentine’s seems like a bit of a provocation, eliciting my feminist commitment to reclaim and reframe all those hearts, roses, and tired cliches in favor of a radical, conscious, and liberatory love. So here’s a little list of things that I’ve learned along the way…

1. What makes a relationship feminist has little to do with appearance or Politics and has everything to do with subtle, daily interactions. If you want to know if you’re experiencing a feminist relationship, pay attention to the most seemingly mundane of things and most unspoken of assumptions.

2. The most feminist I ever feel in love is when I see my partner, and my partner sees me, as a one-of-a-kind composition of a human being, with gender as an ever present, playful ingredient, not a determining factor. This doesn’t mean we ignore society’s force in influencing how we experience our own gender or sexuality, but that–within the liberatory space of our relationship–we have permission to transgress, transform, and titilate rather than explain ourselves.

3. Nothing challenges an egalitarian relationship more than making them there babies, or so I hear from the brave friends who have already done so.

4. No one partner, just like no one movement or theory or thinker, is going to satisfy all of your needs and desires. That’s why, if you’re into monogamy, it’s freeing to seek a romantic relationship with the flexibility and security necessary to nurture lots of wonderful friendships. Community, after all, is feminist, and it takes a whole village to keep a feminist intellectually, emotionally, and physically stimulated, if you know what I’m sayin’.

5. Know and love your body and your relationships will inevitably feel more feminist.

6. If you’re into guys, which I am, you have to walk your talk within relationships. That means creating the space for men to be vulnerable, not expecting them to live up to any of your unexamined assumptions about what’s masculine, respecting their confusion, courage, and creativity around gender just as much as you do your own.

7. All healthy love, in my opinion, is dependent on a deep commitment to self-awareness on both partners’ parts. If the person you’re with isn’t willing to examine themselves–in whatever form that takes for them–then you’re going to have hard time creating a conscious and radical relationship. Good love, like good politics, takes self-examination and bold truth telling.

What are your learnings on radical love?

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  • http://feministing.com/members/torirodriguez/ Tori Rodriguez

    Great post, Courtney. On a related note, my latest blog post, “The One Major Thing You Can Do to Improve Your Relationships and Your Life,” touches on some of these issues. The link is http://torirodriguez.typepad.com.

  • http://feministing.com/members/veroniqueb/ Véronique

    Nothing to add, I’m afraid, except to say that I love your list! Really, so much of that resonated with me. I am in a deeply loving same-sex relationship that is about to hit 30 years. We have both learned a lot about relationships and about each other. We have learned to balance serious commitment to each with room for other relationships.

  • http://cabaretic.blogspot.com nazza

    I would add that the initial period of being in love is a period of radical egalitarianism in and of itself. That being said, I saw a program on TV last night claiming that our own supposed unselfishness in love is really a reaction to lust. And that may be, to some extent, but I’ve always tried to keep the memory of that time alive. Sometimes celebrating anniversaries are good for that.

    Today, I celebrate two years with my partner. So we’re going to go back to the same place we met for our first date.

  • http://feministing.com/members/azure156/ Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

    Wonderful post! I’m not sure yet what I’ve learned about egalitarian love, other then simply experiencing it every single day, other than it’s the one thing I cannot compromise on. Luckily I found a partner who shares my mindset on it and crazy challenging revolutionary spirit. We never attempt to control or curtail one another, we just support each other in defiance against the established kyriarchy (sexism! ableism! etc. etc.) and care for one another in the privacy of our loft quarters when we come back from the fight exhausted.

    To celebrated Valentine’s under Hallmark’s radar, I posted a few things I made at my WordPress. There’s a Valentine commemorating Phoolan Devi, the Indian outlaw who fought for the equality of women and the lower castes, along with the story of her February 14th revenge against rapists. There’s also one called “Alchemical Valentine” co-created by myself and my husband, using the body as a canvas. I put them here: