The ‘Strong Guy’ dating the ‘Feminist’ – my take…
So a few months ago, I wrote a #Wisdom4Wednesday post on guys being intimidated by strong women, and the response was quite an interesting one so I thought I would expound on the topic in this week’s blog piece.
Dating a feminist myself, I wanted to use my experience to bring to life a topic that obviously has many forms of interactions (in terms of how each relationship in this scenario can play out). But, I hope that our experience can bring an insight that explains our dynamic, but at the same time explains why the combination is not as incompatible as the heading of this blog piece suggests!
RUTH - A FEMINIST PROFILE
So for those who don’t know Ruth very well, she is a very British raised 2nd generation Nigerian (Brit first) who is a very go-get-‘em type of lady. She is the founder MAGNIFY - a magazine focused on faith, fashion and feminism.
One of her major life passions is the advancement of a society of strong women who are equipped to be all that they can be and empowered to influence society, unencumbered by the glass ceilings gender inequality has fostered up to now. (I say ‘up to now’, not mistakenly believing that we have crossed the Rubicon). Apart from this being her passion, this also reflects on her personality and how she sees the world.
THE PROFILE OF A TRADITIONAL NIGERIAN BRITISH GUY
Now for those of you who don’t know me very well, I would say that I’m a hybrid whose worldview is an amalgamation of many influences and cultures. I’m a British Nigerian who is very modern in my outlook but at the same time very traditional. Meaning - I hold very fast to some of the ideals of the cultural responsibilities of a Nigerian man and some of the patriarchal tendencies that this outlook espouses.
HOW THE EXTREMES CREATE CLASHES
Although some of this is quite straight forward, I believe it’s the extreme application of feminism or being an alpha male that seemingly causes the clashes that seem irreconcilable. I will qualify how these seemingly conflicting philosophies coexist in my head shortly, but before I do, I want to explain how in mine and Ruth’s relationship, this dynamic plays out.:
Passion and Patience
1. Given both of us are strong willed individuals, we’ve learned that when the wilful side of one of us starts to take hold, the other-half has to identify that and not allow situations to escalate and give the other the time to express in that capacity.
Ruth and I would try to outlive God having the last word (Ruth more so than I!). So at times, I’ll leave her to take on God in that matter knowing fully well that she can’t! Of course this point follows both ways so she often leaves me to it when needed… Lol!
Independence and Co-dependence
2. As much as we both believe in the strengths of our genders and advance the causes attributed to each, we are not so naïve as to think that we operate completely independently of the other.
As a guy’s guy who believes in the notion of the “strong man” I’m self-aware enough to know that behind every strong man is a stronger woman still holding the fort. From Ruth’s perspective, I know that as much as she is a very independent woman, she is also aware of her need to rely on her man, not because she cannot do things on her own, but because reliance is ingrained into us as human beings, no matter how strong a feminist or alpha male you are.
Faith in Our Relationship
3. As a Christian couple, the adherence to one notion above all others – our relationship with Christ at the centre of all our interactions – is what helps us to marry our differences into an eclectic mix which makes us both stronger.
We understand that the central tenet of ‘Godly Love’ more than our culture or gender philosophies is the one thing that supersedes our dispositions, our inclinations and our prejudices. Essentially, if the stance that we adopt is out of kilter with what the Bible says then we drop it and pursue kingdom (with a capital ‘K’) culture and values over earthly culture.
HOW WE MARRY OUR DIFFERENCES
Some of you may be wondering how we manage to bring all of the above together. The fact is that I see myself as a ‘guy’s guy’ and also as a feminist – with the qualifying proviso: So long as both philosophies do not stray from my understanding of what the Bible says.
I am definitely against any ideal that promotes misogyny and against any ideal that proffers ideals of radical feminism which are not in line with God’s original design of the interplay between male and female – which is for each sex to be helper to the other.
At the heart of my feminist belief (feel free to disagree and comment below) is the fact that we are all equal in the eyes of God and that is irrespective of gender. I believe that Jesus himself spoke out against and showed several instances where he gainsays the notion of patriarchy when the instances he encountered would have had the result of subjugating the position of women.
The account of the woman adulterer who the authorities wanted to stone to death is a case in point. Jesus’ response was, “Let he without sin cast the first stone.” I don’t think Jesus posed this question nonchalantly and he also deliberately challenged the men to act. The implicit message to me is that the ‘he’s’ out there who by custom do not stone the men who are caught in adultery should execute this same judgement… Just a thought…
HOW AS A MAN, MY FAITH SHAPES MY VIEW OF FEMINISM
I think beyond this exchange, my biggest takeaway from Jesus here is the fact that I can be a strong man and also be someone who advances the cause of women without losing my sense of self.
The issue that many of us face is that we see the interactions between male and female as a zero-sum exchange. We say: “If I’m with a strong lady, she’ll be too much” and “It detracts from my sense of self/ego as a guy”.
I’ve learned that in my relationship with Ruth, I’m as strong as my other half is. And if I do anything to weaken her, I only weaken myself, and vice versa. A team is only the sum of its parts, so to enhance my team, I must enhance my partner.
It’s a lesson I’m constantly learning but endeavour to get better at this so that feminist or not, alpha male or not – our union will maximise the potential it has to flourish.
"In the same way, you husbands must give honour to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered." 1 Peter 3:7