Why You Should Date a Feminist

Now don't tell me you wouldn't date Obama.

Men, this post is for you.

I’ve been told by trusted sources that potential suitors may read my blog and find themselves intimidated by my feminist ideas. I would never want to discourage a potential suitor until I discover him to be deplorable, so I’m offering up this post as an olive branch of sorts.

So, here’s why you should date feminist girls like me.*

  1. We split the check. Now, I’m not gonna lie–I don’t speak for all feminists, but I personally appreciate when a guy offers to pay for me. Sometimes I even accept. However, that doesn’t mean I expect it. Hell, sometimes I even pay for the guy.
  2. We won’t use you as a free plumber/computer technician/mover. I can unclog my own toilet, fix my own computer, and–usually–schlep my own shit up the stairs. Why? Because rather than sitting around looking pretty and helpless, I’ve enjoyed figuring out how to do that stuff myself. (Case in point: I once ran Linux (Ubuntu, if you’re interested) on my laptop for an entire year just for the hell of it.)
  3. We’re great in bed. Most–though of course not all–feminists refuse to buy in to the idea that a woman is only sexy if she’s either a shy, girlish virgin or a porn star. We recognize that sexiness is an attitude, not a set of genetically inherited traits. We understand that there’s nothing shameful or dirty about sex.
  4. We don’t expect you to be rich. I’ve dated (or at least crushed on) guys who’ve majored (or worked) in anything from business, economics, biology, and pre-med to philosophy, history, English, and psychology. I’ve been into guys whose parents are lawyers and guys whose parents barely make ends meet. Because I don’t see dating as a way to become financially secure. I can do that for myself.
  5. We will never subject you to monologues about our physical flaws. (Or, at least, we’ll do so very rarely.) After many years, I’ve finally stopped thinking I’m fat. But it’s not because I got any thinner or got an expensive therapist. It’s because I’ve finally realized that even if I were fat, that would in no way diminish my worth as a human being–and that’s an idea I can thank feminism for. Once I realized that, I finally stopped pinching my stomach and analyzing my thighs, and got to work thinking about the stuff that matters.
  6. We don’t buy into the whole Valentine’s Day shebang. Every February, I discover magazine advice columns full of letters from men terrified that they won’t be able to provide the “perfect” Valentine’s Day experience for their girlfriends, fiancées, or wives. Well, gentlemen, you don’t have to worry with me. I appreciate Valentine’s Day gifts and usually give them myself, but I have no special expectations for that day aside from a hug and a kiss.
  7. We don’t need you to be super ripped and athletic. Most feminists recognize that there are soooo many interesting things a person could do with his/her life aside from trying to look good. I like to date people who are passionate about something. If they’re passionate about sports, cool. If they’re passionate about something totally different and don’t have much time for sports, still cool.
  8. We care about things. Now, I realize that for some men, this is a dealbreaker. But I truly believe that most guys like it when a girl actually cares about things that happen in the world and has plenty of interests. I have lots of flaws, but one word that’s never been used to describe me is “boring.”
Of course, no discussion about dating feminists would be complete without an examination of the stereotypes associated with them. Many people unfortunately think that feminists are rude, uncaring, etc. Obviously, I don’t think that’s true. But a better argument is this–don’t you also know non-feminists who are rude and uncaring?

Not every feminist woman will be right for you. That much, I hope, is obvious. I’m not arguing that you should date women just because they’re feminists. Rather, I’m arguing that you shouldn’t write them off just for that reason.

So, give it a try. Don’t let my mom be terrified for my romantic future. You wouldn’t do that to her, would you?

~~~

*Disclaimer: I don’t claim to speak for all feminists. However, this list is applicable to most feminists that I’ve personally met and/or read the writing of. If you’re a feminist and some of this doesn’t apply to you, that’s perfectly fine. I still consider you a feminist. Don’t worry.

Who Has it Worse?

There’s a game we progressives sometimes inadvertently play. I like to call it “Who’s More Oppressed?”

You can probably guess what I’m talking about here. It’s the tendency of social justice-oriented people to engage in lengthy polemics regarding “who has it worse.” Is it Black lesbians? Is it transsexual Hispanic men? Is it lower-class white teenage mothers?

In fact, some (quite liberal) friends and I recently tried to figure out which identities the hypothetical most oppressed person in the world would have. (I’ll leave the conclusion up to your imagination.)

I encountered a less dramatic form of this argument recently on (where else) Tumblr. A male user had responded to a graphic against slut-shaming with the comment, “Try to nail every girl you know? Douchebag. Try to be civil with every girl you know? Fuckin friend-zoned. It works both ways.”

A user named, of course, “stfuconservatives” reblogged the post and added some commentary to it, claiming that being called a slut is worse than being “friend-zoned” and that women have it worse than men. Further comments on that post agreed with stfuconservatives and generally bemoaned the preponderance of sexism in this world.

Let’s step back for a minute. Yes, being called a slut is awful. Nobody should ever call someone that. Period.

Besides which, what this guy wrote and the way in which he wrote it is definitely quite presumptuous and entitled-sounding. However, for the sake of argument, I’ll play devil’s advocate and take his perspective. First of all, he never said that this men’s issue is worse than being called a slut is for a woman, which is what the responders claim he says. But in fact, he specifically says, “It works both ways.” What does that NOT imply? That men have it worse. This man never said that he finds it appropriate to call a woman a slut, or that he doesn’t think this is a problem. Let’s not put words into his mouth.

Furthermore, why this immediate assumption that this man’s claim does not deserve attention? Several commenters immediately point out that they themselves have never “friend-zoned” a guy for being nice. Perhaps not. But this issue is one that I have heard mentioned by guys many, many times, and it strikes at the heart of the conflict between masculinity and sensitivity that most (if not all) American men have to face. This culture glorifies the “Bad Boy,” and men are taught from an early age that being a man means being callous and aloof. Rape culture permeates through our society, teaching men that inducing women to have sex with them is a worthy goal.

On a personal level, every “nice guy” I know has experienced at least one situation in which a girl he liked picked an asshole over him. In fact, when I was younger, I did this all the time. I don’t know why women do it. But it happens. There’s no need to pretend that this isn’t an issue, because it is, and it should be addressed.

Finally–and this relates to a topic I’ll be addressing in a later post–the name “stfuconservatives” (means “shut the fuck up, conservatives,” for those who aren’t familiar with chatspeak) is just so damn wrong. How will progressives benefit from silencing those who disagree with us? Argument and debate not only causes us to strengthen our ability to defend our own views, but it also reminds us that we might not be right about everything, and that many different perspectives exist in the world. These perspectives should be valued, respected, and engaged with.

But back to my original point. What good, exactly, does it do to argue about who has it worse? Why can’t we acknowledge that even groups that we associate with privilege can have issues, and that different kinds of privilege operate in different social contexts? There are so many different kinds of prejudice and stereotypes.

For what it’s worth, I’m glad that I’m a woman, and I can act as kind and generous with men as I want without them relegating me to the status of friend (and nothing more). I’m glad that when it comes to dating, being the person I truly want to be–caring, sensitive, and witty–actually helps me get dates and find relationships, rather than hurting my chances.

Ultimately, I think it’s unfair to make any claims about who has it worse. Each of us sees the world through our particular lens. In terms of things like access to employment opportunities, salaries, historical discrimination, and reproductive justice, women undoubtedly have it worse. But how about being expected to get a job that can provide for a family? How about being drafted to fight in wars? How about being expected to show little emotion, to know how to do practical things around the house, to love sports and be athletic, to propose marriage?

Who has it worse is irrelevant. Let’s fight for social justice without trampling on any group, whether it’s traditionally “privileged” or not. What this comes down to is choosing to speak, write, and argue in ways that are inclusive, rather than exclusive. Like it or not, about half the world is men. There’s no need to make them feel like we don’t care about their viewpoints.

A Point-by-Point Assessment of “10 Reasons to Date a Depressive”

[TMI Warning]

Thought Catalog had an interesting post yesterday called “10 Reasons to Date a Depressive.” It’s sardonic and irreverent but actually brings up a few good points about depressives (and dating them). I’m going to analyze the piece point-by-point and add my own (as usual, very serious and scholarly) commentary.

1. Anything you leave with them will be right where you left it, no matter how long you leave it. Pending suicide, hospitalization or just deciding to go somewhere else while in a melancholic haze, the depressive avoids doing, well, things.

Yeah, this is pretty true. I think I’m unusual in that I force myself to clean even when I’m feeling awful (because it helps), but many depressives don’t.

2. Borrowing money has two advantages. Depressives do not expect you to pay them back. It’s probable they don’t even remember lending it to you, after a while of nothing mattering.

Partially true. We do often feel like people are always going to take advantage of us (i.e. by not paying us back), but we never forget. We hold it in the back of our minds and feel resentful.

3. Cheap date. Most depressives who want to live at least a little are on some sort of antidepressant. The chemicals in most antidepressants increase the potency of alcohol. You may end up with vomit on you while they tell you stories of their missed opportunities. But then again, you may not. It’s good to stay optimistic around depressives, for obvious reasons. Also, most depressives don’t eat much.

Since I don’t really drink, I wouldn’t know about this. However, it’s worth pointing out that not only are some antidepressants potentially fatal if taken with alcohol, but it’s also a really bad idea to drink if you’re depressed (alcohol itself is a depressant, and so on and so forth). If you’re dating a depressive, please don’t encourage them to drink.

4. Avoiding the meet the family situation. Depressives usually hate their family. And depressives don’t want to meet your weirdo brood. That would interrupt days-long, pensive thought-loops. These are necessary for doing nothing.

Not true for me, but definitely true for some.

5. Sex. As with most things it’s a double-edge sword with the depressed. They may get wasted (easily, see above) and fuck some of that anger out on you or they may get wasted and spend the night in the emergency room. It is worth the risk, though, if only to do it once. Intoxicated sex with a highly-medicated depressive is liken swimming with dolphins.

Actually, many depressives lose interest in sex as a result of their condition, and many antidepressants can lower sex drive or inhibit orgasms as a side effect. Also, from what I’ve heard (but thankfully never experienced), drunk people in general are TERRIBLE at sex.

6. Drugs. Depressed people love to self-medicate. This often means unlimited beer and usually pills and pot. If you’re into speedy drugs though, you’re out of luck. Depressives are terribly uncomfortable with bouts of increased energy.

I wouldn’t know.

7. Poor memory and attention. Lucky for you, poor cognitive skills are a sign of depression! Depressed partners won’t remember things, like cruel words or mysterious sheet stains, and there’s less of a chance they’ll notice when you do stupid shit.

Only partially true. We definitely have poor memory and attention, but we will ALWAYS notice when you do stupid shit, ALWAYS freak out about it, and ALWAYS remember it.

8. A lot of quiet time. If you’re into quiet (though not usually the peaceful kind), depressives are for you. If they aren’t quiet due to overwhelming internal existential dread, you’re getting the silent treatment for whatever you most recently said or did that crushed their identity.

Haha. This is completely true. If you’re going to date a depressive, make sure you’re not one of those people who needs to be talking or doing something all the time. We like to sit around and think.

9. Sensitivity. Depressives are very sensitive people. This will work well for you when you are sick or lose your job or any time you need someone to feel sorry for you. Or maybe you saw a squirrel outside and then looked away and when you looked back it was gone and for a second you were slightly glum. Anything. Just don’t expect any actual help. Depressives are already too weighed down with pain to do physical activities.

So so so so true. Whenever one of my friends or family members is upset, I literally feel it in my heart. I would drop anything to help someone. Even if it’s not something that I personally would be upset about (for instance, one of my friends gets very upset about bad grades and I don’t really), it’s like my feet instantly go in their shoes. Most depressives I know are the same way. Of course, though, sensitivity also has the flip side of making people very easily hurt, which is one of the hallmarks of depression.

10.You are now awesome! When with depressives, usually a mess of bodily and foreign clothing stains, bloodshot eyes and plenty of hopelessness to share, you are truly a joy to all of the senses. So, even if you don’t want to invest in dating a depressive, just spending a little time with one can go a long way to making you feel better about yourself.

Honestly, from what I’ve heard, spending time with depressives makes you feel much more shitty than good. So don’t do it for that reason.

Love vs. Work

“Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.”

— Lady Gaga

As much as I respect and admire Lady Gaga, this is some of the worst advice I’ve ever heard, because it’s incredibly misleading.

First of all, it’s probably just as easy to lose your career as it is to lose your partner. Here are a few examples:

  • a pro football player permanently injures his leg
  • a writer gets depressed and loses her creativity
  • a doctor loses a malpractice suit and is no longer allowed to practice medicine
  • a politician becomes disenchanted with the system in which she works
  • an artist starts losing his vision
  • a lawyer at a prestigious firm gets burned out

And so on.

Furthermore, if it were the case that everyone who puts aside relationships for the sake of their careers ends up doing what they love most and getting paid millions for it like Lady Gaga, perhaps her advice would hold up. But for most of today’s young people, who sacrifice love and dating for the sake of working 60-hour weeks and making comparatively little money, the choice isn’t really such an obvious one.

Second, it’s exactly this mentality that prevents people from making the sort of commitment that prevents relationships from breaking down. I’m not saying all relationships (and marriages) are made to last, but putting your career first every time is one way to make sure they don’t. I know students here who will break off perfectly good relationships because 1) they can’t deal with spending one summer apart, and 2) they’re so obsessed with getting the perfect summer internship that they don’t even try to end up in the same city together. Of course, one could argue that college relationships don’t matter much (though I’d never argue that, personally), but people keep acting like this long after graduation. For instance, by doing as Lady Gaga recommends and choosing careers over relationships.

I feel like sentiments like this one are an overblown response to the old-fashioned way of looking things, which was that a woman should sacrifice all of her ambitions for the sake of a marriage. Obviously, I disagree with that completely, but I feel like asking women to sacrifice all of their relationships for the sake of their ambitions is just as one-sided and faulty way of looking at things. Statements like this one construct these two aspects of adult life as diametrically opposed when they really aren’t. Plenty of women manage to have fulfilling careers and loving marriages. It just takes a bit of work, that’s all.

The truth is that nothing in your life is ever going to be perfect, all the time. When your relationships aren’t going well, an interesting and meaningful career can help you get through it. But what about when your career isn’t going well?

In short, yes, balancing love and work is difficult. That doesn’t mean we should just opt out of that balance altogether and pick one over the other. It’s unfortunate that people like Lady Gaga, whom many young women consider a role model, has made it sound like we need to abandon one of these important things for the sake of the other.