Lifestyle 20 February 2020
"Do you know how hard it is to date a feminist?" My jaw dropped as the words spilled out of his mouth. I couldn't believe it was a serious question. How could this possibly be a question?
"No, but I do know how hard it is to date a misogynist," is what I should have screamed back. In that instant, I suddenly felt that I wasn't 100% respected.
Instead, I sat there in disbelief, convincing myself it was okay. These were the people I'd have to face for the rest of my life. I wasn't wrong for thinking that. Fighting for what you believe in is hard, and if we want to achieve gender equality, it's going to take everyone's effort. However, my experience as an activist and heterosexual woman has taught me that the most effective way to advance this cause is to date someone who doesn't cringe at the word "feminism."
The lack of education and ignorance surrounding the beauty of feminism can fog many people's worldview. I can hardly claim myself a feminist without receiving suspicious glares and assumptions that I'm a "man hater," but I'd like to settle the score. Just because I label myself a "feminist" does not mean I hate men. It means I believe women have every right to be respected as men do without question.
So, how do you know if your potential significant other is afraid of this particular f-word? For one, they refuse to call themselves a feminist. How familiar does this sound: "I'm not a feminist, but I believe in equality."
Yes, my eyes just rolled too.
Someone that understands feminism knows that, by definition, it refers to the complete equality of all genders. The person you date shouldn't be nervous or scared of the word "feminist" because inequality affects all of us. If the person you're with doesn't make an effort to understand the wage gap, rape culture, and the social inequality of women to men, then it is evident they do not respect you. This lack of respect can quickly take a turn for the worst. This can lead to your partner dominating your relationship. When one person dominates a relationship, the other inevitably feel submissive and oppressed. Relationships are built on compromise, love, and trust. Not domination.
Examples of dominance include anything from criticisms about your outfits to isolation from friends. Because of the dominance of the perpetrator, one might feel the only person they have in their life is their partner. No relationship should ever feel this way— it's emotional and psychological abuse. If you fear aspects of your relationship and your anxiety heightens when you think about things you wouldn't normally worry about, this is a red flag that your relationship could show signs of having an unequal balance of power. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), 48.4% of women have experienced at least one psychologically aggressive behavior by an intimate partner. Furthermore, 4 in 10 women have experienced coercive control by an intimate partner in their lifetime. This dominant behavior is more common than people realize, and it is behavior that is the exact opposite of feminism.
Another way to tell if your partner doesn't respect you is if you feel guilty for voicing your opinion. While partners don't have to agree on everything, one should never feel guilty for standing up for themselves or having faith in their beliefs. A partner who makes you feel weaker or less intelligent because you say something they disagree with is not making your relationship an equal partnership. Relationships should never undermine a person's confidence or sense of self-worth. The NCADV says that this kind of psychological abuse leads to long-term damage to a victim's mental health. One may experience depression, PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), low self-esteem, difficulty in trusting others, or even a higher chance of suicidal ideation.
In my past relationship, there was a power struggle because we were both dominant people. I felt as if my voice was never heard or respected because my partner didn't take the time to understand the oppression that women face every day. He was controlling, manipulative, and made me feel inferior to him. His false pretense included the behavior of pretending he was more intelligent than me, telling me what clothes I should wear, and even went to the extent of saying he was turned off by the idea of me not shaving. Even for one day.
These comments came from him daily, and made me feel like I wasn't good enough for him, lowered my self-esteem, and triggered my PTSD from a past that I worked so hard to recover from. I suffered through a love that sometimes nourished me, but more often than not broke me down.
Just as love is defined by respect and trust, so is feminism. But the stigma around feminism has prevented far too many people from seeing this. I'm not a man-hater. I just want to be equal and have my voice heard in any loving relationship.
In the feminist community, there are many debates about what equality looks like. This is not only limited to society, but also extends to the relationship between two loved ones. Feminism advocates for a balance of power, a concept that shouldn't intimidate people. It doesn't advocate for "man-hating" in any possible way.
Too many times, potential lovers do not see the benefits of dating a feminist. A feminist will work as hard as they can to show equal amounts of effort, love, and respect for their partner. Because of the modern stigma, this idea of equality is largely lost in the sea of accusations of the feminist being a “man-hater."
But feminism, by its very nature, fosters an unbreakable love because it is rooted in equality, empathy, and respect. And if you can't respect that, it's safe to say you're not worth my time.
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Sometimes it takes falling to rock bottom in order to be built back up again. I learned this many years ago when the life I'd carefully built for myself and my family suddenly changed. But in those times, you learn to lean on those who love you – a friend, family member or someone who can relate to what you've been through. I was lucky enough to have two incredible women help me through one of my lowest moments. They taught me to love myself and inspired me to pass on their lessons each da
If it weren't for the empowering women who stepped up and brought fitness back into my life, I wouldn't be standing – in the door of my own business – today.
In 2010, I was a wife, a mother of three, and had filtered in and out of jobs depending on what my family needed from me. At different points in my career, I've worked in the corporate world, been a stay-at-home mom, and even started my own daycare center. Fitness has always been a part of my life, but at that point being a mom was my main priority. Then, life threw a curveball. My husband and I separated, leading to a very difficult divorce.
These were difficult times. I lost myself in the uncertainty of my future and the stress that comes with a divorce and found myself battling anorexia. Over a matter of months, I lost 40 lbs. and felt surrounded by darkness. I was no longer participating in my health and all efforts to stay active came to a halt. I didn't want to leave my home, I didn't' want to talk to people, and I really did not want to see men. Seeing my struggles, first my sister and then a friend, approached me and invited me to visit the gym.
After months of avoiding it, my sister started taking me to the gym right before closing when it wasn't too busy. We started slow, on the elliptical or the treadmill. This routine got me out of the house and slowly we worked to regain my strength and my self-esteem. When my sister moved away, my good friend and personal trainer started working out with me one-on-one early in the morning, taking time out of her busy schedule to keep me on track toward living a healthy life once again. Even when I didn't want to leave the house, she would encourage me to push myself and I knew I didn't want to let her down. She helped me every step of the way. My sister and my friend brought fitness back into my everyday routine. They saved my life.
I began to rely on fitness, as well as faith, to help me feel like myself again. My friend has since moved away, but, these two women made me feel loved, confident and strong with their empowerment and commitment to me. They made such an incredible impact on me; I knew I needed to pay it forward. I wanted to have the same impact on women in my community. I started by doing little things, like running with a woman who just had a baby to keep her inspired and let her know she's not alone. I made sure not to skip my regular runs, just in case there was a woman watching who needed the inspiration to keep going. These small steps of paying it forward helped me find purpose and belonging. This gave me a new mentality that put me on a path to the opportunity of a lifetime – opening a women's only kickboxing gym, 30 Minute Hit.
About four years ago, I was officially an empty nester. It was time to get myself out of the house too and find what I was truly passionate about, which is easier said than done. Sitting behind a desk, in a cubicle, simply didn't cut it. It was hard to go from an active and chaotic schedule to a very slow paced, uneventful work week. I felt sluggish. Even when I moved to another company where I got to plan events and travel, it was enjoyable, but not fulfilling. I wanted to be a source of comfort to those struggling, as my sister and dear friend had been to me. I wanted to impact others in a way that couldn't be done from behind a desk.
I began to rely on fitness, as well as faith, to help me feel like myself again.
When I heard about 30 Minute Hit, I was nervous to take the leap. But the more I learned about the concept, the more I knew it was the perfect fit for me. Opening my own gym where women can come to let go of their struggles, rely on one another and meet new people is the best way for me to pass on the lessons I learned during my darkest times.
Kickboxing is empowering in itself. Add to it a high energy, female-only environment, and you have yourself a powerhouse! The 30 Minute Hit concept is franchised all over North America, acting as a source of release for women who are just trying to get through their day. I see women of all ages come into my gym, kick the heck out of a punching bag and leave with a smile on their face, often times alongside a new friend. 30 Minute Hit offers a convenient schedule for all women, from busy moms to working women, to students and senior citizens. A schedule-free model allows members to come in whenever they have a free half hour to dedicate to themselves. Offering certified training in kickboxing and a safe environment to let go, 30 Minute Hit is the place for women empowerment and personal growth.
Through my journey, I have learned that everyone is going through something – everyone is on their own path. My motivating factor is knowing that I can touch people's lives everyday just by creating the space for encouragement and community. It's so easy to show people you care. That's the type of environment my team, clients and myself have worked hard to create at our 30 Minute Hit location.
Fitness saved my life. If it weren't for the empowering women who stepped up and brought fitness back into my life, I wouldn't be standing – in the door of my own business – today. The perfect example of women empowering women – the foundation to invincibility.
This article was originally published September 12, 2019.