'Feminists are not romantically challenged'

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Men and women alike are afraid of the F-word. Feminism, that is.

But new research from Rutgers University in New Jersey shows feminists are not as scary as you might think.

The study, co-authored by Laurie Rudman, an associate professor of psychology at Rutgers, found that feminists " both male and female " make better romantic partners.

Rudman’s research aimed to refute the stereotype feminists are romantically challenged. “The word ‘feminist’ evokes images of unattractive man-haters for a lot of people,” Rudman said. “Women are afraid that feminism may muck-up their romantic lives.

“[Because of this stigma] we call it the F-word,” Rudman said.

Women’s Issues Network’s artistic manager Anjeet Saini explained why these common misconceptions still exist. “People hate on feminists because they’re so strong in what they believe in.

“People think such strength must come with a fault ... I think [that’s why] feminists are portrayed as ugly or without emotions.”

Saini said people do not realize there is a continuum between guy-lovers and bra-burners. She said not all feminists are extremists.

“We believe in equality, not the superiority of women.”

Rudman and co-author Julie Phelan, a PhD student at Rutgers, conducted online and in-lab surveys to find out whether feminist partners have positive or negative effects on relationships. The study measured equality, stability, sexual satisfaction, and overall happiness in heterosexual relationships, Rudman said.

The results showed that both genders benefited from feminist mates.

Men paired with feminist partners reported greater relationship stability and sexual satisfaction. Meanwhile, women with partners who identified as ‘feminists’ benefited in all relationship dimensions.

Saini said it’s not surprising feminists have more successful relationships. “I think they’re more likely to avoid abusive relationships " both physically and emotionally " because they know it’s not right.”

Around campus, students expressed a wide range of reactions to Rudman’s findings.

“A feminist attitude is kind of hot,” first-year science student William Fields said. “I think to a certain point everyone is a feminist.”

“I stand up for equal rights, but I don’t think I’d call myself a feminist,” first-year engineering student Jeffrie Castro said. “I’m not female, and I’m not the one facing discrimination.”

In further studies, Rudman said she hopes to pinpoint reasons why the F-word carries extremist stigma.

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