Join Massive’s own agony aunt, as she dissects the peaks and pitfalls of dating in a millennial world.
An Alternative Guide to Feminist Dating
Admittedly, there are a fair few things I’ve turned a blind eye to when scoping out a potential significant other – bad habits, bad jokes, bad breath (although, truth be told, the latter one’s a stretch) – but if someone isn’t a feminist, for me, it’s a deal-breaker.
Though it’s not always easy to decipher right away. After all, dates exist as an opportunity to get to know someone which you don’t already. So, short of sending out a pre-date questionnaire, enquiring whether or not they think the 1950s could be described as a golden era for gender relations – we have to accept that dating the occasional ‘bad egg’ is, unfortunately, inevitable.
That said; here’s my alternative guide to navigating the badlands of feminist dating.
Chatting up a feminist:
Hey, girl, fancy heading back to mine and really smashing the patriarchy? … Is perhaps not the ideal opener. Generally speaking, it’s best to avoid anything that has the potential to come across as harassment, let alone mockery.
Not long ago I was waiting for my bus home when a man approached me to ask whether he could tempt me to “drive” with him. I was bamboozled. I stood there, wondering whether my discomfort was my problem or his problem. (Was driving necessarily sexual? I mean, he didn’t specify where we were going, how long it would be, or even the make and model of car. Let’s be honest – a Ferrari carries very different connotations to a Toyota Corolla).
I stopped wondering and told him to go “drive” himself, or words to that effect. Just before getting on his bus, he turned around to inform me that I had “the body of an 80-year-old”.
Well damn – I thought – here’s hoping this is exactly what I look like at 80-years-old.
It’s not often that I’ll say the traditional route is best, but in this case, simply asking someone whether they’d like to grab a drink works fine.
Clarifying your relationship status:
Merely using the word “single” appears to be asking for trouble. After all, it suggests something that’s usually a bit crap. Single beds are no fun. Single scoop of ice-cream is the dairy of denial. “Single” suggests something lacking, or wanting. Apparently it’s also an invitation for endless lines of questioning. No doubt that will continue to worsen as a I get older – I’m in my 20s, for Christ sake, and already the first question on everyone’s lips is whether I’m seeing someone yet. How soon before this question has graduated – no, mutated – to when I’ll be having kids. I can see it now; “You don’t want to leave it too late” cackles a relative stranger (or strange relative), as we linger by the buffet in the back corner of a wedding reception. I chug my vodka, wondering how soon I can feasibly escape for a smoke. They narrow their eyes. What can you say, to quell their expectations, to lessen your sense of failure; but moreover, to divert this frankly rude invasion of privacy?
“Considering the amount of people I’ve been sleeping with recently, I’d say it won’t be long!”
That would shut them up.
So, who pays the bill?
Take my hand and come with me now (dreamy music, rippling screen) as we travel back in time… Let’s talk about the old-school approach. You know, the man paying the bill, holding the door open, all that jazz. The kind of chivalry that makes knights of men and princesses of women – princesses who ‘need rescuing’, usually. Now, because it’s not always practical to “rescue him right back”, like in Pretty Woman, this is a potentially perilous area.
Is it disempowering to let someone pay the bill if they’re more financially capable and just so happen to be a man? Is this not just, you know, socialism? *ducks* All right, all right.
Sometimes I do let people – man or woman – pay. Hell, sometimes I offer to pay, even when I’m far from flushed with cash. Though on some occasions I have nearly bankrupted myself for the sake of my pride. Nobody’s perfect.
As for holding the door – well, that’s just manners. You can over analyse these things all you like, but ultimately, this is what we do for other human beings if we are not bastards.
Grooming: to do, or not to do?
No, not that kind. I’m talking about the laborious behind-the-scenes action that we put ourselves through when dating. Makeup, hair, waxes, clothes. The whole shebang.
Obviously, there’s a line between making yourself look a certain way to feel good, and doing something because you feel you should. This question is a tightrope we all tip-toe across at some point.
A friend of mine, while undressing before someone she had just met, found herself apologising for her unkempt bikini line. Then, hearing what she had just said, she started to think out loud and get angry at herself – effectively destroying the moment. The stranger standing in front of her, bless their soul, made an attempt at recovering things by saying: “I like what you’ve done with the stuff down there”, which only made things worse.
Can you “own” your bikini wax? Sure. Although most single women I know would rather own their own homes – and if buying avocados is enough to screw the future of my finances, the price of regular brazilians certainly will too.
No one has the right to tell a woman what she’s supposed to do with her body. Any date who tries to do so should be swiftly dispatched. Last year, a French fling killed the pillow talk when he whispered: “You know, you can always spot Kiwi girls abroad because they have beer bellies…”
Oui, monsieur! This also has legs – au revoir.