I love my boyfriend more than anyone has ever loved anyone*. He's the most generous, thoughtful, brilliant, kind human being I've ever met. One of the things I admire most about him is his intense passion and dedication. But lately, because I am a selfish selfish person, I've been having some whiny self-indulgent reactions to his busyness, and I'm going to complain here on Groupthink.

NightDude is an amazing feminist and an incredible example of how to be a male ally. He's been interested in feminism since before we got together (our first time ever hanging out was at a talk by Jaclyn Friedman). When we moved to our current community, some of the well-established women's advocates here asked him to take a more active role in ending violence against women, and he really stepped up. He started doing anti-VAW work as a volunteer, and recently was able to turn it into a paid position.

I have endless respect for the work that he does, and appreciation for the way he throws himself into it. But here are my secret whiny complaints:

Selfish Whine #1

NightDude works too damn hard, to the point where sometimes it starts detracting from our relationship. Lately he's had to work late into the evenings almost every night, and has been travelling a fair bit as well. I feel like I've barely seen him in over a month, and that's likely to continue for at least another few weeks.

Because I love the work that he's doing and think it's incredibly important, it feels petty to complain to him about this. He's already stressed and overburdened, and I want to be as supportive as possible. He's been an absolute rock for me during stressful, busy times, and I hate the idea of adding to his anxiety. At this point there's very little he can do about his busyness other than learn for next year that he can't take on this much, so all I can do is ride it out. But I really miss spending quality time with him!

Selfish Whine #2

[recently someone posted a cartoon showing a male and female feminist side-by-side, with a caption like 'wow it's so amazing that you believe in women's rights!' under him, and 'uggghhhhhhhhh' under her. I wish I had that here]

[ETA: THIS ONE! Thanks, NYCyclist!


] Holy shit do people ever fucken LOOOOOOVE a male feminist. I've been doing feminist anti-VAW for several years now, and many of my colleagues have been doing it for decades. We work relatively behind-the-scenes, with strong conviction that our work is incredibly important, but resignation to the fact that it will rarely be recognized or lauded. That's fine. But since the very first time NightDude started doing what he does, the community has lost its collective shit over him. He's had dozens of media requests over the past few years; he does interviews and sits on panels and conducts workshops and is invited into schools. The amount of positive attention he gets is almost overwhelming.

To his credit, he manages to navigate this all with a whole ton of grace. He uses his platform to bring forward marginalized voices, he always focuses on the fact that women have been doing this work forever, and he's remarkably humble and does his best to reflect or mitigate the praise thrown at him.

I am intensely, fiercely proud of him and of the work he does, and very grateful that his work has gotten people to sit up and pay attention to gender inequality. But sometimes I still find myself being a jealous little baby about it. I've been doing the same work as him for twice as long, and I can count on one hand (just kidding, on one finger) the amount of times my opinion has been publically requested. That one time was when I was asked to do a radio interview with NightDude and two other women, and then at the last minute was asked to step down because they could only have three people, I was the most junior of the women, and they had to keep the man of course. I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I cried.

It's not that I expect (or even really want) to be praised or recognized. It's just the juxtaposition between how people react to his work and mine. Publically and even in my group of friends, I try to be the unwaveringly supportive partner at all times. And I am! I really am! It's just that sometimes my work feels exhausting and thankless, and I wish I could get just a modicum of the recognition that he does.