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If done the healthy way, a stud-for-femme relationship can be more beautiful than sun-kissed melanin dabbed with shea butter. It’s the best of both worlds brought together, a harmony achieved by two women that combine their dad hats and acrylic nails into a balanced, fulfilling union.
What upsets the balance? For some S4F relationships, it’s a lack of equity. In love, equity goes beyond the confines of equality—while equality ensures everyone involved is treated the same, equity means that everyone’s needs are considered and folks are given the tools to flourish on the same level. In the case of masculine-of-center women, the expectation to spoil, please, and deliver on a different level than our feminine counterparts diminishes that equity. Some studs feel pressure to shoulder rent and utilities, pay for every date, play Ms. Fixer Upper around the house, do the driving and heavy lifting, and handle all the responsibilities that are considered stereotypically masculine to please our femme partners and avoid the emasculation that comes with falling short. Even if our pockets are stretched farther than a pair of old leggings, and we burn more gas than an Uber driver, the idea of failing to live up to the gender roles imposed on us is way worse.
So, where does the pressure come from?
Well, it turns out that these great expectations are straight expectations. In cisgender hetero relationships since Black Jesus walked the Earth, society has labeled men the providers and laborers, and seen as less than if they're short a few dollars or can't change a flat. We borrow so much from hetero relationship standards that whoever wears the man clothes in our community often feels obligated to push equity down a flight of stairs, even when her estrogen, wallet, and physical capabilities are cussin’ at her not to.
If you and your femme partner thrive in a more heteronormative dynamic, there’s no wrong in that! Take the lead, foot the bill, carry 20 bags of groceries in one trip and never let her lift a finger. The problems arise when someone feels shortchanged. It takes two to manage a monogamous relationship, and feeling like you’re the main one going the extra mile can be emotionally and mentally draining for someone that doesn’t enjoy playing that role. I’m talking singing like 6lack in every song he’s ever made. What if you’re a stud that wants to share financial duties? What if you want your partner to open the door for you, pick you up, and spoil you the way you spoil her? What do you do if you want equity?
Know that even if your needs aren’t considered stereotypically “masculine”, they’re still valid and deserve to be considered. Masculinity is defined by the individual, and anything you deem a need or want is masculine enough for you.
Don’t be afraid to use your voice, and express your needs/wants to your femme partner. Close mouths don’t get fed! Speak up and let your partner know what you want financially, emotionally, and sexually in a relationship. The right partner will listen and compromise.
Let your femme partner know if the dynamic you two have isn’t working for you. It’s never too late to change things up. If you feel stretched thin or want a little more balance in your relationship, always say so regardless of how long into the relationship it is.
Be selfless and generous, but know that giving without reciprocity is not a mandate in any relationship just because you're masculine. Think this speaks for itself.
The really great thing is not every fem needs you to be the Hulk, a sugar daddy, a handyman, and a sexual martyr wrapped into one. The right one for you will accept you just as you are, embrace equity, and match your effort without questioning your masculinity, if that’s what you desire. So, split the check. Enjoy that pampering. Receive that sexual pleasure you want. Take that ride she’s offering. Share bill paying responsibilities. Love that melanated, shea butter-dipped relationship you’re cultivating and know that your masculinity within it is defined by you and only you.
Written By: Eden Carswell (@locs_on_the_rocks, IG)