Dirty Talk: Can we do feminist romance?

Chapman W. and Tatiana Parafiniuk-Talesnick

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.

For our final show, we decided to bring in our significant others to have a heart-to-heart about feminist romance. Which we realized was a little risky. We approached our lovers (gross word, I know, sorry) and basically asked them their thoughts on romance.


A tricky question presents itself. After a semester of looking at how sex goes wrong, how women are mistreated, how sexism hurts men too, what a patriarchy does in the bedroom, how heteronormativity warps us, how racism gets involved and the medical difficulties of it all, we wonder, is romance do-able? Also: while we’re thinking about all of this, what is romance?

We find ourselves asking what is love? *Cheesy 90s music plays in the background*

Romance goes wrong for a couple reasons. On the show we teased it out with our uhm, eh, lovers. Together we found that capitalism gets mixed up in romance with notions of ownership. We conceptualize ownership as love – and this can be stifling, because you can’t own a human without seriously infringing on basic human rights.

Secondly, we looked at heteronormativity. How does this affect two heterosexual-appearing relationships? Mostly, weird homophobic remarks gives us the words that help critically analyze hetrosexual relationship. It’s a problem when a person says to two women, “who’s the man?” for many reasons, but it shows how explicitly gendered expectations of people in relationships are. The stupid question shows us that in a heterosexual relationships, specific jobs and behaviours are expected from different genders.

As Renata Grossi brings up in her article Romantic Love – a Feminist Conundrum some feminists, like Simone de Beauvoir and Shulamith Firestone, think romance is unworkable because of this. Since men and women are treated so unequally – romance becomes a bit of a trap, for both genders: the provider and the caterer, the homemaker and bacon-maker.

This is stifling, but also a lie. It prevents us from appreciating how multifaceted, complex and contradictory we are. We think admiring and appreciating someone for ALL that they are is real love. It’s not hard then to understand that our current model doesn’t allow for this kind of love we crave.

So: why still pursue romance?

We love to love, and want to. That would be the easy answer. We find ourselves both in relationships we’re excited about, but also we individually are on the brink of changes. Graduations, educations abroad, moves and new jobs leave us having to practice love without certainty, love without ownership.

When we want to feel justified in loving — bell hooks is a good person to look towards. The legendary feminist philosopher spends a lot of time on love. She finds it to be necessary to love, her book “All About Love,” lays out ways we ought to do love, in a feminist way and a revolutionary way.

And we agree — love is possible. Love is feminist. Love is necessary.


Checkout the full episode on iTunes or on KCSUfm.com.

Collegian Managing Editor Tatiana Parafiniuk-Talesnick can be reached at managingeditor@collegian.com or on Twitter @tatianasophiapt.