I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the mysterious and curious nature of feminist dating. No matter what gender you identify with, dating is complicated enough. Either in a long-term relationship or casually using Tinder, it can be hard to remain true to who you are. If we add the complicated issue of “How do I date when I’m a feminist and I’m trying to save the world?”, it can prove to be quite a challenge!
Let’s break it down.
I read this pretty awesome article on Huffington Post this week “This is What It’s Like to Date While Feminist.”I thought the author, Alanna Vagianos, made some interesting points that I totally identified with. Yet, I couldn't help but feel a bit discouraged; I want to feel better and empowered while dating as a feminist!
At some point we’ve all experienced “feminist guilt,” especially when it comes to relationships. Whether it's accidentally realizing you are dating someone who doesn’t believe in equality/feminism/women’s rights, or even dating someone who supports your feminist beliefs too loudly.
So I’ve decided to add some of my own Feminist Dating Do’s. Side note: I feel like having “Feminist Dating Don’ts” imply you are doing something wrong. That’s bull. We’re all learning! Go out and do it, don’t don’t it!
1. DO Be Open and Honest About What You Believe
I am not one of those women who believes that if my partner is not a feminist supporter when I meet them, it’s a deal breaker. Part of the fun of dating is sharing new experiences and beliefs, and although your boo may not be fluent in the language of intersectionality or even be aware of what BUST Magazine is, show them. SHOW THEM THE AWESOME WAYS OF FEMINISM. Don’t try to hide it because you feel it might turn some people off. Fun Fact: those are the people that may be wrong for you.
Yet, if you get to a point where your partner is starting to squash your beliefs, reject how you feel, or overpower your feminist supporting ways, dump them. Seriously. You did your best, but sometimes you can’t fix everyone.
2. DO try Feminist Dating Sites
There is nothing more grim to me then sites like OKCupid and Tinder. If you use them and have experienced luck, that is awesome! But most of the time, sites like that tend to focus on looks and not on a person’s substance. Do some research and check out dating sites that support gender equality, like the Feminist Dating Site (if you’re interested in women)! They do exist!
I love this quote from the Feminist Dating Site:
“Dating a feminist will be fun, witty and new. You will not regret it, because you'll always learn new things and explore new boundaries. Feminists are real women who value real men and women, don't you forget that. Moreover, feminist are also romantic, gentle and sweet persons who dream about someone like you with whom they will share their lives. So give a try, don't be afraid and visit Feminist Dating Site without hesitation. These women will open your eyes for many things and you will be able to learn many different things from them, like feminist theory, biology of gender, civil rights, feminist literature, culture in general to even such thing as feminist theology.”
3. DO Share advice with your friends/like-minded Feminists
We are not in this alone. Most of us have a supporters that have faced similar issues when it comes to dating as a feminist. Talk to your friends about problems you are facing. I have a group of four best friends who are all currently dating feminism-supporting boyfriends. We’re fortunate to have open-minded partners that we can share our successes and beliefs with and feel heard and respected, but this hasn’t always been the case. We had to kiss a lot of frogs!
Even though we have awesome partners-in-crime, we are still constantly going to each other for advice like:
“Should I feel guilty if he pays on the first date?”
“No! But maybe to make yourself feel better, start to take turns picking up each other's meals every other time."
Wow! I do feel better! We learn from one another and sharing the problems we face with our friends will help us get closer to what we want and going after it.
4. DO Drop the Feminist Guilt Monster
We are not perfect. Although I tend to think of feminists as superheroes trying to save the world and inform people of gender inequality and women’s rights, this does not mean that we are not entitled to personal time for ourselves, including a love life. We will make mistakes and date jerks who hate that we’re feminists, or be frustrated to the point that we want to give up, but in the end, be true to yourself and the right person will find you. It’s not worth the guilt monster telling you that you’re not allowed to find fulfillment in all aspects of your life!
And in the meantime, watch Joseph Gordon-Levitt call himself a feminist. Le sigh.