Does Modern-Day Feminism Intimidate Good Old-Fashioned Romance?

By: Hyacinth Mascarenhas

Like a regular gentleman, he opens the door for her, surprises her with a bouquet of red roses and a heart-shaped box of chocolates, picks up the tab at the restaurant and covers her bare shoulders with his jacket on the way home.  At the end of a seemingly perfect V-Day date, she snaps back, “You know, that was really sexist of you.”

This is the typical stereotype associated with feminism and romance, and around Valentine’s Day time, the picture keeps getting more vivid and out-of-focus.

Over the years, there have been numerous portrayals of feminism in the media from strong, independent career women to angry feminists burning pink and red hearts through February. The real definition of feminism however, is hazy and misunderstood by many.

Some women love the idea of celebrating Valentine’s Day as the most romantic day of the year, while others call it a capitalistic notion created by Hallmark. While both views, however, do have valid points, the root ideology behind them may not have anything to do with feminism at all.

Samhita Mukhopadhyay, author of Outdated: Why dating is ruining your love life, says it’s unfair to blame feminism for the downfall of romance.

“I think that you can have a feminist analysis about traditional ideas of romance, but ultimately it is a personal decision what displays of romance you are most comfortable with,” Mukhopadhyay said.

“It’s one thing if you feel like you have to buy expensive things to make your partner feel like you love them; I think there is a lot of room for a material feminist critique of this, but it is another if you and your partner like to be sentimental, and engage in the performance of romance. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that,” she said.

Bringing the male species into the picture, do men really get intimidated by strong, independent women?

Graphic designer Yusef Ramelize, who recently got married, says he considers himself a feminist as well.

“I’m extremely supportive of the empowerment of women and doing whatever it takes to do so with the women around me. I don’t find it intimidating. When you empower women, your wife, your spouse, you empower your family as a whole and why wouldn’t you want to do that?” Ramelize said.

Blogger Katie O’Connell says it’s not feminism but “the perceived loss of power” that may be intimidating to men.

“Men are socialized to think their worth as individuals, their masculinity, is dependent on being the independent, aggressive, strong, tough breadwinner. Women taking on empowered roles, making money, having power I think can be intimidating because men think that his masculinity is being threatened,” O’Connell said.

“Feminism seeks to move beyond these harmful, restrictive paradigms of masculinity and femininity and to demonstrate that when women are confident, self-empowered, and self-sufficient, it’s a threat to nothing but the patriarchal status quo,” she said.

Dating, relationships and romance are not the same as they were 20 years ago, but does that have to be a bad thing? Feminism can actually be an interesting lens to look through when it comes to romance and relationships, considering how much has changed with both the sexes.

“I think that the most feminist take on the idea of romance would be to understand that ideally relationships should be caring, compassionate, egalitarian, and trusting. It’s so gratifying to be in a feminist relationship or a romance guided by feminist ideals where you know, as a woman, you are safe with your partner, you are not expected to do all the work, and you are equal in the relationship.”

Valentine’s Day, no matter how it is observed, is a celebration of love with your significant other, family, friends, even yourself! So whether you are going out to dinner with your partner, watching a movie with friends or joining Occupy V-Day with fellow feminists, don’t join or boycott the festivities just for the sake of a date on a calendar. Do you what you want to do and have fun with the people you love…there should never be a reason to do so!




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