Being in a relationship should be fun and fulfilling, though it’s inevitable to have days where it just feels challenging and overwhelming. You can’t expect everyone to have the same views as you do, but what if it’s gender equality that you’re disagreeing on?
Is your partner actually sexist?
So he expects you to get dolled up every time you’re together and he expects you to cook him a meal or fix him a plate whenever he’s hungry and you’re around — is he just expecting what any other man would of his partner or does that make him sexist?
He says “don’t wear that, it shows too much skin!” and when you’re outside and other people turn their heads to admire you, he gets irritated and gives you his jacket so you can cover up. He makes you wait until he’s available so he can go with you to run errands or go to appointments, he doesn’t make you carry heavy boxes around, and tells you to let him know if any repairing needs to be done around the house so he can do it himself. It sounds lovely and romantic but as you think more about it and look deeper into it you ask yourself, “Is he doing this because he’s a gentleman? Or because he thinks I’m weaker and need him to protect me and care for me to survive?”
The problem with sexism in relationships is that it’s often hard to read and recognize. It’s easy to mask sexism with care and concern, maybe even a bit of tenderness and that gentle wanting for affection. It’s called benevolent sexism and it’s making it so hard for us to determine if guys are being genuinely nice, backhandedly being alpha, or both.
My partner is a sexist, now what?
Discovering that your partner is sexist can be devastating. It might have a huge negative impact on your relationship, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the end. Some guys are sexist without knowing it and if your partner is the same, there might still be a chance for you to make him realize it.
Call him out on his sexism and confront him about it
The key to making your partner understand what you think and how you feel about his actions and his words is to create an open line of communication between the both of you. Letting something slide the first time is one thing (we get it, you love him too much to hurt and embarrass him) but letting it happen again and again is another. If you’re bothered by the sexism he exhibits, call him out on it and confront him. When you do, do it for all of womanity. Don’t just call him out when he’s being sexist against you, personally, but when he’s being sexist towards other women as well. Explain why it’s offensive, how it affects you, and how it might affect your relationship.
If he values your feelings and respects what you believe in and stand for, he’ll be more careful about how he thinks of and talks about women, yourself included.
Turn the tables on him
You tried calling him out on being sexist but he dismissed it like it’s no big deal so why not make him experience it first hand by turning the tables on him. Sexism can never be fixed with more sexism but, sometimes, the only way to make people realize how bad it is is for them to experience it for themselves. Push gendered roles on to him and see how he reacts. Leaky faucet? “Why call a plumber? You’re a man, don’t you know how to do it?” Get him merch for sports teams he doesn’t even know about and when he asks why you got him those, just say “it’s sports, don’t you like sports?” It’s not too harsh to hurt his feelings beyond repair, but not too subtle either that he won’t be able to tell you’re being sexist towards him.
If that option doesn’t appeal to you, a gentler approach would be to put him in your shoes metaphorically. Ask him how he thinks he would feel if you did the same to him or if other guys did the same to his sister or his mom.
If you think it’s too late and there’s no way he’s changing his ways, it might be time to leave. Misogyny is never healthy; not for any individual and not for two people in a relationship.