All year long, and on Valentine’s Day in particular, we hear one narrative about love. It looks like this.
- The most important relationship in your life will be a romantic, sexual, monogamous relationship between you and a member of the other sex.
- This relationship will result in marriage, biological children, and a nuclear family structure.
- If you are a man, you will fill a role of dominance and leadership in this romantic relationship and nuclear family. You will initiate in the relationship. If you are a woman, you will take a following role in the relationship. You will wait for your male partner to take major steps in the relationship.
- Love is scarce. You can only truly love one person.
This narrative is restricting and damaging for all of us. But I think it’s particularly harmful for those of us who are sidelined by patriarchy. Most of the close, intense relationships that women see in the media fit this narrative. So where are the bonds of love for us that don’t imprison us in a passive role? Where are female friendships, relationships that can be as important to us as romantic relationships or even more so, and don’t come with a gendered power dynamic? Where can we find models for love and relationships that don’t hurt us?