As a woman who considers herself to be a feminist, I've always tended to shy away from the notion of 'behaving like a lady'. I'd prefer to be treated like an equal above all else. But regardless of how easy it may be to adamantly say I don't want to be given special treatment, at its root, there is some good at the core of this social more. While out and about in the New York dating scene, I constantly wonder where the perfect intersection between being treated with respect because I'm a human being, and treated with respect within the context of being a woman might be found. Does behaving like a lady involve always letting the man take the lead, or, have we reached a point in time where assertive women who know what they want can qualify as exhibiting ladylike behavior?
It's been especially at the forefront of my mind while playing on my latest app addiction--Bumble. Created by one of the founders of Tinder, Whitney Wolfe, the app was born after she was allegedly sexually harassed by her ex boyfriend and co founder of tinder (oh the irony). Branching off to take the app dating world by storm, Whitney created an app that's similar to all others in that it's a swipe right for yes, swipe left for no format, but different in one key aspect--the woman needs to initiate the conversation. Now, while the intentions are great, and perhaps way back when it first came to market (the app is now 2 years old), it was indeed a safer space for those looking for respectful men, two years later, the men are just as bad here as on tinder (the grossest of all online dating apps). Just as prevalent are requests for naughty pics, ghosting, and downright rude conversations. The initially pro-fem construct is lost when men are yet again given a chance to show their true stripes,
Similarly, last week, the Washington Post published an article that said that women were likely to be more successful and date more eligible (and attractive) men, if they were only willing to make the first move. While I'm most certainly a proponent of women being the aggressor (fortune favors the bold might as well be my tagline), I do wonder how effective this approach truly is. As with all else, is it the type of thing where the novelty is intriguing, but when it comes down to it, men still want to play the alpha?
Case in point, I dated a guy once who claimed to be drawn to me by virtue of the fact that I'm not like many of the prissy, entitled women of NYC who won't date men who don't have the words doctor, lawyer or banker listed as their professions. He loved that he could be himself around me, judgment free. I could hang like one of the boys but flirt like the sassy New York woman that I am. But, after about a month of his dropping hints at his true personality, one huge hot mess of an evening was more than I could take and I ended the relationship.
In the post mortem phase, he proceeded to show his true stripes. He told me I didn't know how to listen (read, I have an opinion), belittled my job (he'd recently lost his own and couldn't deal with my success) and even went so far as telling me that I needed to give up being a vegetarian and start eating meat so his 'boys wouldn't be iron deficient' (I hope that one at least made you roll your eyes). His pre-relationship shpiel was BS--much as he claimed to want someone just like me, he really wanted the complete opposite and my request for respect as his partner and as a woman, was undermined as his need to exert his masculinity became paramount in our interactions.
While I appreciate the attempts we're constantly making towards being equals in the dating world, I wonder how much of the fem-first approach is fabricated by lady-app creators to make women feel empowered, and how much of it is actually substantiated. Do men really want women to take the first move? Or are we just telling ourselves that because we're sick and tired of waiting for them to take initiative?