There’s a misconception that feminists hate men, that we do not need men, and that we are a bunch of robots incapable of loving someone. Wrong.
A feminist may not need a man to feed her, but she may still want someone to love and who loves her. In fact, feminist is the best romantic, because when she dates someone, it’s because she wants to, not because she needs someone else to fix her or define her self worth.
I am a feminist and a romantic, and I wasted a year and a half trying to make someone love me back, when I knew he was seeing many other women – despite his repeated denial about this. I tried to make him love me and only me, and it was a lot of pain – involving self-doubts, sleepless nights and hating myself.
I was that person who tried anything to be the kind of women he liked back. He adored this other girl who smoked, so I tried smoking, even though I hated it. I did it hoping to become the kind of girl he liked so much. But, boy, it didn’t work and I am glad it didn’t.
Months later, I realized that for a year and a half, I had completely forgotten the fact that I was a feminist as I forced myself to be someone I was not, in my desperate need for an approval from a man. But the thing that I learned from my lesson is that I can actually be a romantic and a feminist at the same time. Any women can too.
If you are a feminist and a romantic, remember that of course you are very, very capable of falling in love, because you have a functional and beautiful heart. You’re going to meet someone you really like and you’ll tell him why you like him so much.
He’s going to blush and says he likes you a lot too. You’re going to kiss him good night and good morning, because you just can’t help it. You’re going to have the most wonderful time together; just you and him, and the world suddenly doesn’t matter.
For a while you stop reading the news, because, what for? Your life is so beautiful; life and its messiness can’t bother you. For a while you’re going to make him feel like the best person in the world, and he does that too with his sweet, charming smile. You are a romantic and you shouldn’t be ashamed of that.
But if you are a feminist and a romantic, you need to constantly remember the feminist values that you believe in, too. When he sweeps you off your feet, you still need to keep yourself grounded, because you know every flight has to land before it runs out of fuel.
When he says he loves you, believe him, but you still need to love yourself more than he ever does. You’ve worked really hard to be who you are; and if someone comes along and adores your hard work, that’s good. But you need to appreciate the struggles you’ve done all these years, because you did that on your own. It’s something that deserves a 10-minute long standing ovation.
But, more importantly, you never, never have to compete to gain someone’s approval of your worth. If there is more than one woman in his life trying to win him over, you need to remember that romance is not a competition. Your self worth is not an object to be competed or scored by anyone, including that guy you like so much.
Remember that in every competition there will always be winners and losers. I know how tempting it sounds to be a winner to a competitive, powerful woman like you, but please, don’t even try to compete. When you lose, it’s going to hurt a lot. And even if you win at the end, other women that we try to empower with our feminist values will be losers, and we are going to make them question their self-worth. No one deserves to go through that painful phase. Not you, not her.
After all, the kind of man who enjoys such competition is the least sexiest kind of man, a misogynist. Men like this are the reason us women stop being our truest selves; the reason you start being someone you are completely not.
He should feel lucky to have been loved deeply by a powerful woman like you. And if he does not realize what’s in front of him, you just have to walk away. It’s time to be selfish and give the love you’re so willing to give to no one but yourself.
But hey, if you really want to compete, then you still can join debate clubs, strive to the best in your class, run a 10K, or make many exceptionally beautiful artworks. Any competition will do. But not over boys, never over boys.
Dinda Royhan is a 20 years old romantic feminist currently studying social work, who spends most of her Saturdays with books and films.