He Said/She Said - Dusting off that glass cieling
Steven asks, "My girlfriend says she loves me but refuses to do anything that might be misconstrued as ‘domesticated,' so I pretty much have to do everything. How can I show her that helping out with household chores isn't the same as submission?"
I would try to be direct and considerate of her lifestyle choices and then handcuff her to the sink in her sleep. If that doesn't work, swap her out for a girlfriend that wants a human counterpart and not a doormat. I understand women who don't want to compromise their independence by complete subservience to a man, but relationships are all about finding a balance, not establishing a chain of command. Your girlfriend isn't standing up for herself, she's just being lazy, and she's playing the "victimized girlfriend" card to guilt you into doing her half of the work.
This isn't 1960, it's 2011 – she can wash her own damn knickers.
If you are genuinely being walked on (and not just playing the "henpecked boyfriend" card to guilt her into taking out the trash while you watch hockey in your boxers) then there's only two things you can do: break her, or break up with her.
Of course, you can't actually (read: legally) handcuff her to the kitchen until she does the dishes, but she doesn't want to be your subordinate and yet insists on making you hers – that's called role reversal, not being progressive. Let her know directly that you are in a relationship, not an ownership, and that she can either play nice or kick rocks. If she insists on refusing compromise, she doesn't care about you anyway – cut bait and move on to someone with less insecurity.
As a rule, people don't change. Your best bet is to grant her all the independence she wants: make her single. She can find another chump, and you can find a girl that understands that feminism isn't about avoiding feminine stereotypes; it's about embracing femininity as a blessing instead of a curse. Truly strong women aren't the ones who try to act like men, they're the ones who are empowered enough to act like girls – and find absolutely nothing demeaning about that.
Way to find a militant feminist in a city where girls are freakishly obsessed with dropping pounds and developing their tan, that in itself is impressive. But joking aside, I respect this girl's desire to crush stereotypes. As my peace-sign clad mother constantly reminds me, women are moving backwards. We're neutralizing all the forward strides our moms and aunts made at Woodstock with their hairy, hairy legs. Like those Swiffer commercials that are based entirely around the idea of women having romantic relationships with their mops and brooms? Throwing-the-remote-at-the-television-worthy when you really think about the concept. I get the sensitivity to chores. Plus, if I could get away with never doing lame-o chores again in name of feminism, I'd probably ride that train to lazytown—with wicked enthusiasm. I despise doing dishes.
But in reality, that blows for you dude. I sympathize. Try this on for size: next time your girlfriend insists on channeling the late Sylvia Plath, remind her that if she really wants to break boundaries that TRUE equality would mean sharing all household duties, you know, equally. So make one of these wheely-charts, or whatever, and dole ‘em out evenly. Quick advice: AVOID DISHES. Nobody likes wrinkly prune fingers and lingering orange zest scent. Actually, there's probably a fetish specifically for that.
If she doesn't go for that, I'd have to say she's just milking the whole thing. If she really cares about you, and you truly express frustration with being left to do all of the housework, I'm hoping she would concede to meet you halfway. And, like I said, if she refuses: red flag. I would consider reconsidering, if you know what I mean.
It's always the little things that make or break a relationship, even with friends. Didn't we all learn that freshman year from dorm-life?