I’m sure this has been written about before, so I guess I’m simply adding my own thoughts.
If you’ve seen my “Single Women Are NOT Evil” video, then you have some basic idea of how I feel about some of the ways in which women are treated when it comes to dating and perceptions about who they are and what they are about. Dating While Feminist (DWF) is its own separate issue, though, and I’ll admit that I’ve probably given too much thought to it recently. Maybe because it is getting cold and I want some thighs to intertwine with mine. *shrug*
The word alone elicits assumptions, judgments, accusations, and mostly negative perceptions. “Man-hater” “Ball-breaker” “Bitch” “Too Aggressive” “Sexually Prudish” are just some that currently come to mind. Unfortunately, the prevailing perception of “feminists” is the archetype of the radical single White lesbian in her 40s who wishes she was born with a penis. I mean…. *sigh* What can I do about that? Not saying there is anything wrong with that woman, in particular, but she doesn’t represent even more than the slightest minority of self-proclaimed feminist women. I do what I can to try and change the perception, via my tweets, this blog, and my videos, and I’ve gotten positive feedback from many of my readers who say that I’ve given them a well-articulated voice in the feminist arena or that I’ve changed their minds about how they thought about feminism. I love that. I will continue to do my best to expand folks’ minds when it comes to understanding why feminism is essential to our collective growth in society.
Sometimes, though, the things I and others like me say fall on deaf ears. Some people, some men especially, refuse to accept that feminism isn’t all about hating men or trying to be the dominant person in the relationship. There’s no way someone can think that of *me* specifically, not anyone who has read my “Push The Button” series or my other writings about BDSM. I write about the intersection of feminism and BDSM because I tap dance on that corner for spare change every single day. It is who I am and I make no apologies for it, even when people think it is contradictory or not “real” feminism. My response to that is that since we cannot define femininity or womanhood, even masculinity or manhood, objectively, no one really has any claim on what “real feminism” is and it all boils down to individual paradigms. Some argue that people use “feminism” as a catchall label to explain away or excuse certain behaviors that women engage in. I think that type of simplified accusation is another way to try and suppress the voice of people we ought to be listening to more. We see this a lot in the debate among feminists about sex workers or the one about women who choose to wear hijab. I digress, however.
With “BDSM Lifestyle” writing and ideology aside, it is simply wrong to assume that all man-dating feminists want to control men and be the leaders in the relationships. It is wrong to assume that dating a feminist woman means bracing oneself for a fight and challenge every step of the way. It is wrong to assume that a feminist woman doesn’t enjoy the nastiest types of sex or that she isn’t willing to remain silent rather than fight for the last word. It is wrong to assume that a feminist woman will put her career ahead of motherhood or that she even wants to work. It is wrong to assume that a feminist woman won’t take on her husband’s last name after marriage or that she won’t cook dinner for him when he’s hungry. It is wrong to assume that a feminist woman will throw her accomplishments in a man’s face or spend most of her time trying to belittle or emasculate him. It is wrong to assume that a feminist woman doesn’t enjoy having her doors opened for her or having dates paid for. It is wrong to assume that a feminist woman doesn’t have a “need” for a man or that he will end up feeling useless because she will want to run everything and do everything for herself.
Simply put, it is wrong to make ANY assumptions about what it means to date a feminist woman. I don’t make assumptions about what it means to date a feminist man, so I don’t want anyone making those assumptions about me.
What might be helpful to understand is that it might be rather lonely for a feminist woman, especially a Black feminist woman who prefers her partners be men. Why? Well, there are already so many negative stereotypes about Black women as it is, from us being bitches to whores to bitter single gold-digging mothers to crazy stalkers, etc. Add to that the aforementioned perceptions of feminism and well, you find a lot of women who think like me without many active suitors…or any. Like, people don’t even want to get to KNOW us because they think they already know us. This is part of why I believe so many Black women, especially,stay away from adapting the “feminist” label because it often gets in the way of finding a good mate. I know that *I* didn’t fully embrace it until I was married and felt “safe” to do so. I admit that because I want people to understand that I “get it”. I happened to marry a feminist Dom, so I could be myself and live freely in my truth.
Now, over 3 years after our marriage ended, I find myself trying to date while feminist and it’s….tough. Sure, I might go on a date here or there, but that’s about it. It isn’t just about me though, because I have had this conversation with other women with different personality types, who identify as feminists just like me, and they have similar experiences. I find there are men who are *REALLY* interested, but they live so far away that “dating” (going out to dinner, movies, concerts, for ice cream on a summer evening) is pretty much impossible. It doesn’t make sense to get caught up in textual relationships because they can fade fast without direct interaction. I find more that men are interested in fucking a feminist woman, for sure, but building something strong? Eh… Few and far between. It’s like their assumptions about our so-called “independence” our strength, our coldness or distance makes us the best to fuck because we won’t get all crazy and attached because, well, we’re cold-hearted feminist thugs who don’t need men, right?
I also find that the men who are most likely to be attracted to women like me, and I don’t mean physically, are men who are strong in character, ambitious, focused, driven, and feel no threat by the idea of strong women. The downside is that these men are often SO ambitious that they don’t have a lot of free time or space in their lives to truly “date” or build something special with women like me. It’s frustrating, especially when you seek comfort and stability, but it’s part of the deal. We tend to like those kinds of men too, but life gets in the way when you’re both committed to something greater than yourselves.
There’s no need to fear a romantic relationship with a woman who identifies as being feminist. When you think about it, all she really wants is for the world to accept her as being worthy of accessing the same resources and opportunities as men, not having to be validated by a man’s position in her life, and being able to make the choices best for her mind, body, and spirit. Is that such a bad thing? Further, is that mutually exclusive from being able to successfully contribute to a relationship/partnership in a way that fulfills both parties? I’m not sure how a woman wanting freedom of choice and equal rights somehow became equated with being the worst kind of woman to date. We all know the truth is most women feel EXACTLY that way; they don’t call themselves feminists because it scares people off.
I’m not willing to compromise on calling myself a feminist to get a man. I’m sorry. I’m willing to compromise on a lot of things when it comes to romantic relationships because partnerships are about give and take. I’m not going to forsake my championing for women’s rights because there are men who are threatened by that. Can’t do it. I am willing, however, to explain my POV, my interests, my likes and dislikes, and what I’m seeking from a potential partner. All he has to do is ask. Strike up a conversation based not on his assumptions of my intentions but simply based on him wanting to get to know me better.
You think women like me don’t want to be loved? Get flowers at work? Be surprised with sweet dinners after work? Have our shoulders massaged? Be told we’re special and beautiful? Just because we’re feminist women, it doesn’t mean we’re made of stone and are choosing to be single for the rest of our lives rather than be with men we’re supposed to hate -__-. As I’ve said before, “Feminists have feelings too“.
So, when you see a beautiful, intelligent woman who strikes your fancy, don’t walk away simply because she openly identifies as a feminist. Trust me when I say most of the women you’ve dated were feminists, even when they weren’t interested in taking on the label themselves. In fact, most of YOU are feminists, but I know that in 2012, it is still not the “in” thing for men to admit they believe in women’s rights and equality
Give a feminist a chance. You might find the right woman for you.