The dating world can be a frustrating place. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find any single woman who hasn't been tempted to just give up and become celibate. But for a young, heterosexual woman who has never shied away from calling herself a feminist, the landscape often seems even more bleak.
Similar to any human rights issue, gender equality is not an "agree to disagree" topic. There are many healthy compromises that should be made within a relationship, but feminism is a hard rule -- if you don't understand and agree, then we can't date, much less have a serious partnership.
I grew up in a world full of pastel golf shirts and fraternity parties, rife with conservative views passed down from generation to generation. And while feminism can surely exist within this world, it's relatively hard to find a partner who fully understands and supports what it is. After a good six years as a feminist in the dating world, I've run into my fair share of intellectual dilemmas, ranging from comical to deep-seeded, relationship-ending problems.
Here are 11 issues I've confronted while dating as a feminist:
1. You're assumed to either be widely promiscuous or an old maid. There is a middle ground, people.
Being sex-positive is NOT an open invitation to anyone and everyone into my bedroom.
2. Going to the movies can be an exercise in patience.
Sexism is inescapable in most of Hollywood's blockbuster offerings, but pointing it out 17 times throughout the latest action movie might do more harm than good. Pick your battles, ladies. Or, choose a Bechdel-approved flick for your first date.
3. Your Hinge and OKCupid profiles read more like Gloria Steinem's diary than an online dating profile.
Even when I look at myself on paper, I realize my passion for women's issues can be a bit overwhelming. That said, if he/she can't get past it, left swipe pronto.
4. Paying the bill is rife with politics. Does your date pay for the bill? Do you pay? Split? Pick out of a hat? At this point, dine and dash?
Even if your partner is open to letting you pay for your share of the bill, there's always a certain back and forth that needs to take place before it's settled. It can be dizzying and exhausting, especially when most of the activities you're doing with this person cost money.
5. Just because I'm a feminist doesn't mean I necessarily identify as lesbian or bisexual.
And if I do identify as LGBT, you have no right to make assumptions about my sexuality just because I am a feminist.
6. If you're straight, you have to assure your dates that you don't hate men.
Even though you're on a date, the "So do you like, uh, hate dudes?" question is never-ending. Seriously, how many times do I have to say it?
7. A quick cab ride is never quick because there's always a fight to swipe the credit card first.
It's utterly exhausting.
8. For some reason everyone thinks you're obsessed with cats...
O.K. so maybe some of us do love cats. But still...
9. Everyone's surprised when you sport nicely-shaved legs.
Hair is natural and I fully support women who choose to not shave. However, personally, I prefer smooth legs so please, stop trying to discreetly check if I have underarm hair when I wave to the waiter for the check. I don't. (And it's weird when you keep staring at my armpits).
10. You always have to come out of the proverbial feminist closet.
Given the common misconception that feminism means something other than equality for all genders, some people think "I'm a feminist" means "I'm a radical." It can be nerve-racking "coming out" to someone you barely know on a first date because you have no idea how they will react based on whatever they perceive "feminism" to be. Which brings us to our next point...
11. But ultimately, your beliefs allow you get to weed out wrong matches pretty quickly.
Sometimes all it takes is a 10-minute educational conversation (many are not versed in gender issues, go figure) for your date to understand and happily accept your feminist outlook. The ones who are still reluctant? See ya never.
"Coming out" as a feminist may be scary on a first date, but it's even scarier doing it three months into a relationship. If a person can't support gender equality at the beginning of a romance, there won't be any healthy equality in that potential future relationship. So, save some time and left swipe pronto. There are a whole lot of amazing people out there who aren't terrified of the f-word.