Feminists Have More Fun

You may have thought feminists were unattractive man-haters. Turns out that men find them attractive, and that relationships between feminist men and women are more romantic and healthier than others. In fact, having a feminist partner heightens sexual satisfaction for both women and men.

So says a study performed by Rutgers University researchers, published in the journal Sex Roles, and reported by LiveScience.

Rutgers psychologists surveyed 242 undergraduates and 289 older adults (average age 26 and in a relationship for about four years). They were asked how often they and their partners laughed together, how often they quarreled, whether they had thought of ending the relationship, and whether they thought their relationship had a good future, for instance.

The researchers aren’t entirely sure why feminism enhances relationships but they have a few ideas:

Feminist men might be more supportive of their female partner’s ambitions than are traditionalists. Men with feminist partners may enjoy the extra breadwinner to share the economic burden of maintaining a household.

I can think of a few others.

In feminist relationships each partner is more likely to have an equal say so that neither becomes habitually aggravated. In counter-example, I have a couple of friends who wanted to marry “male dominant” men. I guess they seemed sexy. Both of them did, but neither of them liked the reality of never having their way. One quickly divorced, the other had long-term emotional problems before finally divorcing.

Feminist men respect women and don’t hit them, rape them, or emotionally abuse them.

In the same vein, feminist relationships tend to be more respectful, generally. Men are more likely to help with the laundry and they are less likely to objectify either their partners or other women — which increases emotional connection and decreases conflict.

Feminist men are also more likely to express their feelings, which further heightens connection.

Emotional connection is great for sex. Not feeling guilty about sex is also great for sex – and as it happens, great sex is a big concern of third wave feminists.

Turns out, getting outside of traditional sex roles makes for better sex, too. He might like it when she asserts her desire – and she might, too.

Egalitarian women are even more likely to be in their relationships out of choice instead of financial dependency, because they are more likely to support themselves.

No wonder feminists have more fun.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on October 8, 2012, in feminism, men, psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. People tend to misinterpret what feminists stand for and taking your course actually helped me understand much better. Feminists seek equality and not domination. There are different forms of oppression in society so they commonly tend to represent interests of other minority groups. As far as men and women, if they both share this view and treat each other as equals, it is obvious they would create a stronger relationship. They would both be willing to make sacrifices but continue to support each other. I love the idea of a man spending more time in the home to support his wife’s career, instead of the reversed traditional expectation. I’ve grown up watching my mom, who has been a housewife for most of her life. Though she seems to find fulfillment, I know that I’ll never be able to do that.

  2. If both partners have equal respect for each other, how could that not make for a better more satisfiy relationship? The reasearches might be a little clueless when it comes to common sense. Being a femminist is a wonderful thing! We have respect for ourselves as women and demand to be treated equally. When you find a man that believes that a women is to be respected and valued the same as a man, your relationship will only grow. Men that are feminists tend to be secure with their self more so than a man that believes in patrarchy. Sometimes I think researchers study the simplest things just to try and make them complex.

  3. My partner is totally a feminist man. After I actually explained to him what the different definitions of feminism are he said something like “well I guess I’m a feminist.” My ex was on the other side of the spectrum where if I had married him, I’d probably be a housewife forever. Nothing wrong with being a housewife if that’s what you want to do but not for me. So, the partner I am with at the moment loves the fact that I am going to school and doing something for myself. Because he is very respectful and a feminist man, we are very open with each other about our feelings. Usually women are the ones to be more emotional, but in my case sometimes I have spent countless hours listening to him express his emotions. After being with a more macho man to my feminist man I definitely have noticed the difference between the two in terms of respect, support and satisfaction.

  4. It absolutely blows my mind that “researchers aren’t entirely sure why feminism enhances relationships”… isn’t it completely obvious?

    Relationships that foster mutual respect, support, open lines of communication, and shared values are infinitely healthier than those that don’t simply based on the foundation of these principles.

    Speaking from personal experience, the healthiest relationships (both romantic and platonic) I’ve ever been in have consistently challenged socially defined gender roles and demanded understanding and unconditional acceptance on both sides. Finger-pointing and arguments have been minimal, and disagreements always seemed to end with self-reflection on the part of both parties.

    When a counterpart in any relationship accepts you as an equal without predefined judgement or expectations, a lasting comfort exists and trust grows beyond the purest form of intimacy.

  5. Leopard [Crates and Ribbons]

    The researchers weren’t entirely sure why?! Seems obvious to me- of course a relationship where both parties respect the other will work better than a typical ‘I man, you my woman’ type relationship.

  6. I was literally JUST about to blog about this! Wow. That’s a pretty ridiculous coincidence since this is an old study.

    • For some reason, I just recently saw someone blog on it — giving me the idea. Study came out 5 years ago — before I started blogging — society likely hasn’t changed much since then.

  7. Probably any survey which manages to put all the wife beaters in the “OTHER” group will, manage to show the group under discussion in a good light. I’m sure if the group under study was committed Christians, and in the “other” group was lumped feminists and the wife beaters together, probably the Christians would look better than the feminists. That’s why these type of studies are so completely ridiculous.

    • It’s clear that you don’t understand what a feminist is.

      No man who is a feminist will beat his wife. By definition, he can’t. A man cannot beat his wife AND be a feminist.

      And in fact, the more patriarchal a culture is, the more wife beating you find. Egalitarian cultures like American Indians before European contact had next to no wife battering or rape (much to the colonists’ surprise). (I’ll write more later.)

      That’s why that comment of yours is so ridiculous.

      On the other hand, Christians could have very good relationships if they followed Jesus’ teachings and example. After all, Jesus was a feminist. I’ll write more on that later, but for now I’ll just say that the only sexism in the New Testament comes from Paul, not Jesus, who recognized the worth and dignity of all.

      The woman at the well is a good example of Jesus’ feminism. Feminists are against both sexism and racism. When Jesus talked to her, his companions were shocked that he would talk to 1) a Samaritan –since Samaritans were despised as ethically inferior, and 2) that he would talk to a woman. But as his companions would come to see, Jesus always recognized the dignity and worth of all.

      True, he told her to go and sin no more (having slept with any men) but Jesus held women and men to the same standard – not a double standard, and he certainly was not into killing women for having sex outside of marriage.

      Otherwise, I’ll have to note that conservative religious people are less likely to enjoy sex (a tradition which may also come from Paul):

      Conservatives of all stripes are also more likely to insist that men should be leaders, which gives women less say in relationships. Both of the women I mention in the post who eventually divorced their husbands were religious conservatives. They went to my church which was of a conservative religious bent – and one that turned me into a feminist. But they were following the ideals of our religion.

      Religious conservatives are also more likely to stay in abusive relationships in an attempt to be forgiving, so that will lower the quality of relationships, on average.

      Conservatives (like those I grew up with) are more likely to insist women should not work outside the home, making them less independent and more likely to marry because they need financial support over marrying because they’re in love. (Their dependency is another reason why they are more likely to stay in abusive relationships.)

      And, conservative religious men who are gay often try to marry women and go straight – which doesn’t lead to very happy relationships. I have a cousin who did that.

      So religious conservatives have potential, but the also have a few things working against them.

      • Hey! This is somewhat unrelated to the original blog post itself, but I just tracked down the study you mentioned from Daily Mail, & some of the info they mentioned is really interesting & relevant to our conversation a while ago, about male and female porn. (If you remember me!)

        Here are some excerpts:

        “Men said they used pornography 93.7% while women said 76%. There were distinct differences between the sexes. Women preferred erotic novels (43.4%) and videos with plot lines (40%) followed by internet shorts (36.5%). Men preferred internet shorts (71.1%) followed by pictures (69.3%) and videos with plot line (61%).”

        Then they had graphs that showed what types of porn that males vs females enjoyed, allowing each person to select as many types as they like.
        I was really surprised that 40% of women said they enjoy photographic pornography. That’s in comparison to 69.3% of men, so men still like it more, but I was surprised because I personally can only get off to motion/video.

        Also: “Ogas and Gaddam [in A Billion Wicked Thoughts][…] found that
        one-third of the subscribers to Today’s Christian Women website seek out erotica
        online. That is just one religious website among many.21”


        “There was also a gender difference in the age when people started using porn[…] Women start two or more years later than men and use it 17.7% less.”

        I wonder if age of first porn exposure contributes to viewing frequency (in effect, I wonder if the fact that men start porn earlier, contributes to the fact that they use it more often overall.)

        You might be very interested from reading more from the study! Here:

        Click to access SexandSecularismTheReport.pdf

      • It’s really hard to nail down how many women watch porn. The authors of pavilion with good thoughts said that many of the subscribers with female names are actually Boys using their moms names. They give a low guess of less than 20% female. And then there are the reasons why they watch it. I’ve mentioned before that some of my female students Watch it to see women want, Not because they are enjoyment themselves. And since we eroticize the female body so much and ignore the male body, It’s not surprising that men are much more likely to Watch it.

      • There’s also the fact that men are a lot more exposed to porn ads than women are. So they’re more often turned on spontaneously, more constantly aware of porn’s existence, etc, lol.
        I’ll notice that I’ll go on some websites, usually they’re just chatsites or videogame sites or even sites where you can read free novels, but I suppose they must be more male-oriented, because I’ll see lots of ads at the side with (clearly male-oriented) pornographic material, with huge tits bouncing, half-naked women, women stripping, etc.
        & I know a lot of people say things like “ads only pop up if you’re searching for those things generally”, and I think that’s true for some websites, but not all. I think some sites specifically set up ads that would appeal to their main demographic. Because I never look up half-naked women. & It’s only on certain sites I see this sort of thing. On other sites, like Facebook, I’ll get ads that are more targeted to something I’d personally like.
        Sometimes I’m like, “Damn. I wonder what it must be like for a guy, online for the sake of reading things, & then having to deal with the sudden horniness that comes from seeing random porn ads at the side of the screen.”
        I personally don’t get aroused by those ads because they’re not things I’m interested in. But I know from experience that seeing random porn, that’s of the type you personally like, can get you in the mood to look at more porn.
        Like, I’ll be scrolling through my Tumblr dashboard, not thinking of sex at all, and I’ll come across a gifset of a woman receiving cunnilingus, & then I’ll get turned on & start browsing for more porn.
        So for guys who have to deal with that *all the time* it’s understandable they look it up more often.
        Guys are generally exposed to more sexual stimuli than women are. There was one study that showed that women & men had equal amounts of internally-generated sexual fantasies, but men had twice the amount of externally-generated sexual urges, probably because men see so much more external stimuli, even when they’re not looking for it.

      • Men definitely encounter more sexual provocation on a daily basis. I’ve written a bit about that on my blog: https://broadblogs.com/2012/05/07/sexual-desire-sexism/

      • Is pavilion with good thoughts a book? I can’t find anything on it.

      • I’m not sure what your question means.

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