Feminist Dating

You’re Doing It All Wrong

If you are only attracted to able, ‘mentally well’, cis, normatively beautiful people, from class privileged backgrounds, then you are upholding violent norms.

Attention, husbands, wives, lovers, seekers of amour, and the partnered of the world. Student activist and avowed “feminist killjoy” Josefin Hedlund wishes to correct your desires in a totally non-dogmatic, non-presumptuous way:

This myth [of love, marriage and monogamy] still has a powerful hold in today’s Western neoliberal societies. Its most important message is that love is magical and apolitical. However, at a closer look, it is obvious that love actually works to uphold hetero- and cis-normative, patriarchal, capitalist, and hierarchical structures in society

Better stow your luggage and strap yourselves in. The ride may be bumpy.

Test yourself: write down the gender, race, class, social, political, educational, and geographical background of everyone you have been attracted to. Do you see a pattern?

Maleness aside, can’t say I do. In fact, I doubt I could recall everyone who’s ever caught my eye. And it occurs to me that if even momentary attraction requires a thorough preemptive vetting of each person’s geographic and educational background, and knowledge of their bank balance and socio-political views, then something’s gone horribly wrong. I should think few of us have time to maintain what sounds like a hugely impractical academic sorting fetish.

If you are only attracted to able, ‘mentally well’, successful (by society’s standards), cisgender, normatively beautiful, slim people, from class privileged backgrounds… you cannot just declare that who you are attracted to is a personal preference.

I feel there ought to have been some kind of explanation here, to pad out the assertion. I’m still waiting for some elaboration on that “upholding violent norms” thing. And it’s not entirely clear to me how my own lifelong coupling, with a chap, is “upholding hetero- and cis-normative, patriarchal, capitalist, and hierarchical structures in society.” Perhaps we’re supposed to enjoy the air of mystery. Still, there’s lots of boilerplate and rote regurgitation:

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Lifestyle Advice

Laurie Penny – yes, ‘tis shewants to expand our minds with her deep knowledge of marriage:  

More women are living alone or without a partner than ever before, and the question on the table once again is not how to have a better marriage, but whether to have one at all. 

I suppose there’s also the question of whether those living alone, perhaps in the name of feminism, are happier than they otherwise might be, more satisfied, and more prepared for later life. Sadly, Laurie waves aside the, as she puts it, “vanishing amount of security offered by coupledom” - coupledom which she assumes must be antithetical to “personal autonomy.” The notion that a person’s sense of freedom – say, from doubt, isolation or poverty - might be enhanced by the practical and emotional support of a lifelong exclusive relationship, is oddly unexplored. The advantages of a second income, shared labour, shared troubles and an expanded circle of relatives on whom one might call for support - and above all, a sense of personal commitment through thick and thin – these things are apparently much too bourgeois and conformist, and so unworthy of attention.

Instead, Ms Penny thrills to the “growing power of uncoupled women” and “the threat this poses to the socioeconomic status quo.” Posing threats to the status quo is, for Laurie, a thing of great importance, something to be championed, seemingly regardless of what that challenge might realistically entail. This, after all, is someone whose pronouncements often suggest a pretentious teenager hoping to scandalise elderly relatives, and who believes, or pretends to believe, that “romantic love is a systemic lie designed to manipulate women into lifelong emotional labour.” As so often, Laurie’s sincerity is somewhat in question, and either way, one has to wonder how this dark conspiracy, this “systemic lie,” might explain the romantic feelings of gay couples, or those who are fairly sure that their partnership is not in fact a sham, an idle reflex or the result of subtle brainwashing.

This being a Laurie Penny article, the spotlight soon shifts to her glorious self:

I had been struggling to find language for my growing anxiety over the fact that, at almost 30, I still have no desire to settle down and form a traditional family. I’ve been waiting, as open-mindedly as possible, for a sudden neo-Darwinian impulse to pair up and reproduce. And yet here I am, and it hasn’t happened. Despite no small amount of social pressure, I am happy as I am.

Which would explain all those cheery, contended articles she churns out

I am quite content with the fact that my work, my politics, my community and my books are just as important to me as anyone I happen to be dating… I live in a commune, I date multiple people, and I’m focused on my career.  

Potential suitors please take note. You are but one of many, and of no more importance than Laurie’s books.

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Feminist Life Skills

I am a truth-teller, if nothing else.

So says Meghan Murphy, whose frankness and modesty entertained us quite recently. Not least with her belief that the world needs “a feminist revolution… an end to masculinity,” and that “it’s time to consider a curfew for men.” Our self-effacing Amazon and speaker of truths, and editor of “Canada’s leading feminist website,” is once again sharing her wisdom with the world’s downtrodden womenfolk, with “Ten things every woman should know by the time she’s 36.” The nuggets on offer cover a spectrum of womanly woes, from the prosaic - buying shoes that fit as opposed to ones that don’t - to matters more profound:  

(3) Love, marriage, and heterosexual couplings will not complete you or make you happy.

Specifically,

I’m not saying that having positive, loving relationships with men is impossible. But it’s very hard.

Because,

First of all, most men are men… They are men who have been socialised as men in a world that teaches them male entitlement… As much as a man might be good and kind and loving, he’s still going to exhibit certain behaviours that will remind you that, oh right, I’m a woman living with a person who has spent their whole life in a position of power over me and my sisters and he will never fully understand what that’s like. 

You see,

Patriarchy makes heterosexual love next to impossible. Do your best to live the life you want regardless of whether or not there is a man in it and remember that having a man in it won’t necessarily make your life any better… Often, in fact, it makes it worse.

At which point readers may wonder if this severely jaundiced view of men - in which masculinity is something to “end” as a matter of urgency, and in which a male presence in one’s life is deemed likely to make it worse - is an obvious aid to success in the world of heterosexual romance. With heterosexual love being “next to impossible,” despite it occurring frequently across much of the planet’s surface. And some of you may be wondering whether the wholesale regurgitation of radfem boilerplate, including demands for male curfews, may give potential suitors the impression of being seated with a woman in need of medication. A perception unlikely to enhance any hopes of contented lifelong coupling.

However, if attempts to attract a male life partner fail – possibly as a result of explaining to him, at length, why he and other men are so ignorant, oppressive and dysfunctional – there is a consolation prize:

(10) You should get a dog.

So. Not a total loss.


Do Not Date Bedlamites

Melissa Fabello shares her interracial dating advice with the chronically fretful readers of Everyday Feminism

While interracial dynamics always add a layer of work to romance, it’s important to note that I’m white. Because when you’re a white person in an interracial relationship, there’s this whole – ohhh, ya know – white supremacy thing hanging in the air. And that has to be acknowledged – and dealt with – constantly.

At this point, the opening paragraph, we could probably cut things short. I mean, if you’re considering dating someone who thinks it important to mention their melanin levels and thinks that “white supremacy” is a feature of any future relationship, something to “acknowledge constantly,” you should probably walk away, quite briskly. Seriously, just get the hell out of there. However, for the morbidly curious among you, Ms Fabello has a list of “things to remember as a white person involved with a person of colour.” It begins thusly:

As a feminist and a woman, I could never be in a relationship with someone who didn’t feel comfortable talking about patriarchy.  

Hey, baby. Wanna talk about patriarchy?

Gender (and the social dynamics therein) is a part of my everyday life, both in how I’m perceived by the world and in the work that I do. So if I tried to date someone who felt discomfort to the point of clamming up every time I brought gender into the conversation, that “It’s not you, it’s me” discussion would come up quick.

Note the words “every time.”

The same goes for race... While it’s okay for conversations about white supremacy to make you uncomfortable (hey, we should be uncomfortable with that shit), being generally aware of how race plays out and feeling fairly well versed in racial justice issues is important.

And feeling mutually awkward while sharing identitarian dogma and confessions of “white supremacy” is what binds lovers together, surely? Sadly, these moments of shared discomfort, however frequent and interminable, may not suffice:

While it’s important to be willing to talk to your partner about race and to feel comfortable bringing it up, it’s just as important to be willing to step back and recognise when your whiteness is intrusive… Not all family structures operate the same way… Maybe it isn’t appropriate for your partner to take you home to meet their parents.

Apparently, the thing to take away from this is that if your partner-of-colour’s family-of-colour don’t want to meet you, a person of pallor, or have you in their home, then, obviously, it’s your fault. Because “you represent an oppressive system” by “virtue of your privileges.”

Because as white people, we’ve been socialised racist.

In short, honkie germs. And for the excruciatingly pious, further complications can loom in the bedroom:

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Embracing Herself

When my wife told me she wanted to open our marriage and take other lovers, she wasn’t rejecting me, she was embracing herself. When I understood that, I finally became a feminist. 

Says New York magazine’s Michael Sonmore. And so, 

As I write this, my children are asleep in their room, Loretta Lynn is on the stereo, and my wife is out on a date with a man named Paulo. It’s her second date this week; her fourth this month so far. If it goes like the others, she’ll come home in the middle of the night, crawl into bed beside me, and tell me all about how she and Paulo had sex. I won’t explode with anger or seethe with resentment. I’ll tell her it’s a hot story and I’m glad she had fun. It’s hot because she’s excited, and I’m glad because I’m a feminist.

I don’t think Mr Sonmore is quite making the persuasive case he presumably hopes for. Still, his children, aged six and three, must be thrilled by their parents’ progressive, self-embracing relationship, and delighted to hear that Mommy is out all night shagging strangers again.

Via Ace, who shares a few thoughts on this


High Maintenance

Attention, amorous menfolk. The rules of dating feminists, especially brown ones, have been updated

Yeah, I said it: I absolutely refuse to even touch my wallet while on a date with a man. 

The fierce young lady saying it, yeah is one Tiffanie Drayton, whose deep feminist wisdom will shake your tiny world:

I am a thinking, hardworking, autonomous human being. I am also a woman, and a Black woman at that, who is constantly fighting for the right to claim an independence that has been hindered and even made secondary to that of my male peers. 

Damn those bastards. And therefore Ms Drayton has decided that politicised freeloading is the way forward:

Why should I believe I must overcome this inequality without the assistance of a man who wants to pursue me romantically? Why is my effort to reach for the cheque anything more than pretence? Society has never treated me as “equal” to the man sitting across from me, yet all of a sudden the playing field is levelled? 

Yes, relying on a man to pay the bill, every time, is proof of Ms Drayton’s emancipation and empowerment as a thinking, hardworking, autonomous black woman. It’s how she fights for the right to claim her independence. It’s also reparation for collective male sin. Oh, sweet serendipity.

In other words, a man who pays for a date is merely compensating for society’s imbalance and inequality. He is restoring equality. This is especially true in dating White or Asian men who - statistically speaking - has [sic] a weekly median income of nearly 2-3 times that of women of colour.

You see, by paying for everything she wants, whenever she wants it, your money is simply being “returned to the women from which [sic] it was displaced in the very first place.” And so the proudly feminist author “completely rejects the premise” that “I have to pay my own way.”

Ms Drayton is a “freelance writer and activist,” one who struggles daily with The All-Powerful Patriarchy™, and also grammar. Regarding her tweets on racism and sexism – sorry, her “lectures” on racism and sexism - she says

Google gets paid. I should too. 

She adds,

If discussions on racism make you uncomfortable, avoid everything I write. 

Given the dating conditions above, potential suitors may wish to expand that idea to contact in general.