Millions across the globe marked International Women’s Day by demanding a gender-balanced world amid persistent salary gap, violence and widespread inequality. Picture: AP

So why should a new partner not being a feminist, even after discussion and education a deal-breaker? Let's break it down.

Having A Partner Who Doesn't Think Women Are Equal Is A Bad Idea

There are two issues in debate here: dating a partner who simply doesn't identify as feminist, and dating a partner who doesn't believe in the fundamental tenets of feminism (the right of women to social, political, and economic equality). The first is a bit more complicated, so let's address the second situation first.

Dating somebody who doesn't really believe in female equality, whether it's questioning if misogyny exists, thinking that catcalling is a compliment, believing that women have prescribed social and economic roles, or simply failing to understand glass ceilings/sexist hiring/objectification/unequal media representation/whatever, is a quality that is going to cause problems. 

Obviously, dating a Men's Rights Activist or a pick-up artist is a bad idea all round, but this can be more subtle than it seems. Many sexist beliefs go so deep that a person may believe overtly in equality but manifest problematic ideas on further investigation, a phenomenon called internalized misogyny. Or they'll try to mansplain the problem to you, and how to fix it.

These things are real, and impact you and your gender. A partner who can't support and fight for that is not one who can be there for an aspect of your existence in the world. It's your choice: see if they're willing to be educated, or cut them loose.

Belief In Gender Equality Makes For Better Relationships

Here's a basic, selfish reason for shacking up with somebody who believes in gender equality: it's going to make you happier. Statistics show that gender-equal marriages and long-term partnerships result in greater happiness (and perhaps longer lives) than gender-unequal ones.

A study from Georgia State University in 2015 found that equal childcare duties improved the quality and happiness of marriages, while a 2005 study found that perceived inequity in household duties seemed to increase the risk of divorce for wives and make both partners unhappier. 

And Tech.co's collection of studies on gender equality in relationships point to more sex, greater health, and more successful children. (This finding hasn't been studied in same-sex relationships, but one can assume that partners sharing equal loads there would produce happiness, too.)

The Word Itself Is Very Important

You may think a manifestation of equality is enough. Perhaps your date doesn't believe, as Aziz Ansari says, that "Beyonce should earn 23 percent less than Jay-Z,"and they're conscious and supportive of feminist issues - but they're still running scared from the full enchilada. Do they need to feel comfortable with the word itself?

So if your new date says, with a shrug of their cute shoulders, "I just don't think of myself as a feminist," make them aware that this is a problem. Straight up. No talking around it. In my opinion, if they want to get with you, they've got to get with your feminist ideologies, and tolerating them simply isn't enough.


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