Feminism | Posted by Julie Z on 01/25/2010

A Feminist Break Up

breaking up sucks

breaking up sucks

A few weeks ago, one of my best friends broke up with her boyfriend. I’m a teenager, so I should probably be used to this by now. It seems as though I can’t make it through an entire week at school without hearing about some type of relationship drama. But this break up moved past the realm of crying-in-the-bathroom-hysterically-with-your-friends-huddled-around-you-one-day-fine-the-next typical high school break up. This one was pretty bad.

Now, I’m of the school of thought that the end of a relationship doesn’t equate to the end of the world. While some might sarcastically comment, “How shocking that your life does not revolve around guys. You’re only a super-feminist” I’m not convinced that this personal way of thinking is entirely connected to my feminist sensibility. The fact that I’m a feminist  has no effect on how much I love my significant other, and how much it hurts when they’re not in my life anymore. I’m a feminist, not a robot. But ultimately, life goes on, and while my aversion to mooning over some guy is related to my feminist independence, I do believe that it’s just as related to my personal practicality and ability to plain old get on with my life.

Or at least that’s what I thought until now.

My friend is totally a strong and independent woman. She stands up for women’s rights and completely holds her own with guys, demanding respect. Yet she has never identified as a feminist, and it’s been weeks since she broke up with her boyfriend and she’s still walking around like a zombie and is unable to really be near him.

Like I said, I feel like the way that I have dealt with my break ups was a personal thing: I am a person who is able to move on. I’m not convinced that that is because I’m a feminist. But then here’s my strong friend, who I believed because of her personality would react to a break up in the same way as I do, crumbling over a guy. She’s not a self-identifying feminist and I am. Hmmm.

Which is why I am turning to this wonderful community of feminist teens, who have undoubtedly been through this before. What does a feminist break up look like? Do you think that the way you break up is even related to whether or not you’re a feminist?

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  • Toongrrl @ at 12:07 pm, January 25th, 2010

    I picture all the normal emotions of a break up but with the conciousness raised enough to chin up and live life as it always was before or even better. There’s been women who have been dumped hard and sang awesome songs about it here are some links
    Enjoy…or cry?

  • Melanie @ at 2:14 pm, January 25th, 2010

    I certainly don’t believe the two are mutually exclusive (being a feminist/the ability to be devastated by the end of a relationship). I am a committed feminist, and my 1.5 year relationship is healthy. However, recently my partner and I have been discussing if it would be in our best interest to break up (because our communication styles can be frustratingly incompatible), and even considering this breakup makes me feel devastated. I know that my world would, in a lot of ways, be turned upside down. Yes, I know I would get over it, and my life is not empty without a significant other in it, I see myself as a strong, independent woman. However, that isn’t enough (for me) to entirely alleviate the pain I would feel at severing an attachment that is so close to my heart.

  • Steph @ at 4:06 pm, January 25th, 2010

    When my last girlfriend and I broke up, not gonna lie, there was drama. But dyke drama is dyke drama nevertheless, right? And we both identified as feminists, and we got over it, but I still think there’s something fundamental about a break-up (especially if you’ve been together for a while) that makes you hurt inside, because they’re not there, and you’ve just become used to it, y’know?

    That said, few breakups are pretty. While my ex and I are still friends, there was a period where things were pretty awkward.

  • Jordi @ at 6:05 pm, January 25th, 2010

    I also consider myself to be a strong and independent feminist. Recently I broke up with my boyfriend. We were togther for 3 years so it was a difficult decision to make although I knew it was for the better. We’re still friends and he has a new girlfriend now. Although our relationship ended and I was upset about it, I didn’t spend days in bed or cry hysterically. You just have to move on.
    I know that I no longer want to be in a relationship with him but I miss the friendship terribly. At times I feel very lonely and mum has suggested that I see a counsellor.
    I don’t really believe that being a feminist has anything to do with how you react emotionally to a break up. Sometimes the strongest and most independent of us have moments where it is just too much and they need help.

  • Morgan @ at 6:44 pm, January 25th, 2010

    I think the way people react to breakups really depends on the actual person. But by saying you are a feminist gives you that extra self awareness. That way you are able to say to yourself that life will go on and obviously by breaking up with this person won’t be the end of the world.
    But even so, if you aren’t a proclaimed feminist you could maybe ‘get over’ a bad breakup faster than a feminist.
    There are just so many contributing factors like if it was a long relationship, if it was a healthy relationship etc. It really depends more on the person than if they are a proclaimed feminist.
    I’m a little skeptical as to whether being a feminist really matters. Maybe it’ll give you that extra self confidence that your life won’t be over without your significant other but what if you already knew that and aren’t a feminist?
    Sorry, my thoughts are somewhat all over the place i’m kinda confused on this too.

  • Zoe @ at 8:13 pm, January 25th, 2010

    I don’t feel like whether you identify as a feminist or not will really affect how a person breaks up. I can see the logic, sure, that an independent woman would be able to pick herself up a little quicker. But I feel like it depends more on the quality of the relationship, how emotional the persons involved tend to be, and how the breakup occurred.

    I’ll let you know how it goes next time I go through a breakup, haha.

  • Brigid @ at 10:19 pm, January 25th, 2010

    I’m not sure a person’s reaction to a break-up has very much at all to do with whether she’s a feminist. Sure, feminism can give you intellectual support in some cases, or help you understand certain aspects of your relationship and/or breakup better. But losing someone you love (or even just like, or got used to having around) isn’t an intellectual thing. It’s emotional, and emotions don’t follow rules, feminist or patriarchal or otherwise.

  • Sophie @ at 7:00 am, January 26th, 2010

    I had a similar break up a little while back. I also thought that being the strong, independent woman I usually was (and still am) to help me move on faster, but it really didn’t and made moving on a lot harder.
    I guess it depends how much you lost your independent, feminist side while going out with your significant other. I lost a huge chunk of my feminist personality, so the moping and crying came from hating myself for losing my feminist self. The pain that followed for the couple weeks, or even months, wounded up coming from me trying to rebuild myself into a stronger, more independent woman.
    But to be honest, I dunno – I’m equally confused on this.

  • Brenna @ at 3:34 pm, January 26th, 2010

    My boyfriend just broke up with me on Friday. He said it was because we fought to much and weren’t happy, but when I went to school yesterday, he was holding hands with another girl.

    I have identified as a feminist for years, but this has crushed me. I had to leave school early today because I was so hurt I was sick. Although I realize what was wrong with our relationship and that I don’t need him, I believed him when he lied to me and said that he wasn’t breaking up with me for another girl and that he wouldn’t get a new girlfriend for months. Break ups suck.

    Sorry about all that, but this just happened to me recently, so this post really hits home.

  • Taylor S @ at 4:47 pm, January 26th, 2010

    It is actually a hard break up that made me depend even more on my feminist tendencies.
    I was in a relatively long relationship with someone that had slapped me, told me I was worthless, and called me names and made me feel subhuman, if that. The hardest part was the manipulation that had me convinced that it was my fault.

    Of course, this was not true at all, and I finally decided to break it off. Since then, I have been looking into ways to empower myself and other women. It is not right that such things still happen; this way of thinking steered me to where my political ideologies lay now. Huzzah?

    So while the emotional part of it does not differ for me now that I identify even more strongly as a feminist, it is easier to spot when there are unacceptable behaviors, significant other or no.

  • Christina @ at 6:45 pm, January 26th, 2010

    Well, I’ve become more of a feminist because of break ups. It just comes to be more apparently real that as a strong woman, I do not or never needed a man to complete my happiness. I love to love, but then again, I try to take the strategy men use with break ups–THERE ARE TONS OF PEOPLE in this world and I just happened to meet a shitty person. Feminists believe every single woman deserves the best and should have no lowered standards. (Im not saying impossible standards, but personal and moral standards, basically).
    Men are fickle, so dont take it so bad if he runs to another girl. It’s rebound anyways. Men are actually very sensitive, and do stupid things after break ups to not feel how hurt they are.
    Just remember, you are responsible for YOUR own happiness, never someone else. Do not depend on a man for that! love a man, but never let him be ur world. women forget to put themselves first. thats what ive learned after two horrible abusive relationships.

  • Valerie B. @ at 6:12 pm, January 30th, 2010

    I like posts like this because it gives a chance to look into the emotional aspects of being a feminist. Which is basically a question of, are you supposed to give up your God-given female reactions upon taking up feminism, or keep them? Personally, I agree with Jordi and Morgan and a few others when they said that it depends on the person. True, your feminist values will allow you to get over it at SOME point. But at the first shock of a breakup, there’s no telling whether strong independant women will crumble or not or whether the generally emotionally weak will prevail or not. I think that my personal reactions to break ups have nothing to do with my being a self proclaimed feminist. They just kick in, like PMS or espresso jitters. I also don’t think it’s giving the guy an idea of male supremacy because like I mentioned, we are girls after all; its just in our nature to get emotional. About your friend, Julie-I hope things get better for her. Just try to be there for her and understanding until her time has come to get over him.

  • Allen Damrow @ at 10:14 am, February 2nd, 2010

    OK, the listed babes are sublime however mine sex crazy. No kidding, here’s Dwana Wallau http://bit.ly/ds1se

  • Bernard Kutt @ at 4:12 pm, May 14th, 2010

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