Hello. It’s Valentine’s Day. I’m a feminist, and I’m single.
I like cuddles. I also like Helene Cixous, Caitlin Moran (when she isn’t being horrifyingly blasé about intersectionality and race, or male feminism), Margaret Atwood, Maya Angelou and Angela Carter. I campaign for gender equality whenever I can. I am also looking for a boyfriend.
Bombshell: these things are not mutually exclusive.
That’s not to say that being a feminist on the dating game isn’t crap; navigating the world of internet dating and sounds roughly as appealing as eating a packet of fingernail clippings. Navigating Tinder seems roughly as appealing as eating an entire, fungal-infected crusty toe. In a world where my attractiveness seems to be based on a profile picture with at least thirty filters, I am utterly lost. And yet, as a singleton seeking another singleton for some meaningful interaction, the dating world is the most evil and necessary of necessary evils.
I don’t quite know what caused this irrational want. Perhaps, growing up, it was old uncle Disney and his motley crew of princesses (these were the days before Frozen after all, and I didn’t get access to Princess Mononoke until I had long passed puberty).
I personally blame Jane Eyre. At the impressionable age of 12 I picked up a book and gained an unrealistic expectation of love that was dramatic and based on intense mutual respect. Though I now think that Rochester is indeed a bit of a douchebag (Mr Thornton from North and South is totes a better dude, obv.), what with the racism and wife locked up in the attic and all that shiz, the lingering desire to find another person, much like a tick stuck on my leg or a particularly nasty case of gangrene, still won’t leave me no matter how much I shake myself.
So, how to deal with this predicament? Feminism on the one hand, a desire to desire and be desired on the other. The fact that I have to consider these things separately is part of the problem. Gender equality and not being treated in a wanker-ish fashion because I don’t have a Y-chromosome has always been a pressing issue to me since I learnt what was “fair” as a kid. Equally, I’ve always found having a significant other (not in the “let’s snog at a club, have casual and disappointing shag on the sofa, shake hands and call it a day” kind of way) important.
Contrary to the advice of such women’s bibles such as Cosmo and Glamour magazine, politics, specifically feminist politics, is often a topic of conversation that’ll come up in my initial courtship rituals. It is the deciding factor that sorts the proverbial wheat from the chaff. Observe:
A Typical Encounter
B: “I study English Literature!”
RANDOM MAN WHO I THINK LOOKS VAGUELY INTELLIGENT AND ATTRACTIVE: “No way! You’re never going to get a job are you? Has anyone ever told you you look like David Mitchell?”
B: “Yeah way! Of course I’m not! And Unfortunately, yes. Many times.”
B: “Also, I’m a feminist!”
B: “What do you think about gender equality then, mister?”
RMWITLVIAA: “… Are you a lesbian? Aren’t all feminists butch lesbians?”
B: “Why, NO! Some are, some aren’t, in fact that’s a woman’s choice… In fact it’s really interesting-”
RMWITLVIAA: “- sorry to interrupt, but can you hold my drink?”
RMWITLVIAA: “There’s a woman over there with no obvious political opinions whatsoever. I am going to proceed to make out with her happily, and avoid this awkward situation.”
Cue sad violins, tumbleweed, and Celine Dion’s “All by myself” playing softly in the background.
The reactions I get when I announce that I am a lonely feminist provoke even more outrage among my supposedly “intellectual” friends, who mistake “want” for “need”, and “desire” for “dependency”. Or, less problematically, from my supportive girlfriends, I get well-meant criticism in the form of “Giiirrrrllll, you don’t need a man to be content!” while playing awesome Beyonce songs. Yes, I do not need a man. I ended my last relationship, with (shock!) a man, because he was pretty hopeless and put about as much effort into the relationship as he did into washing his socks i.e. none at all. Rather than mutating into a shrewish she-harpy with talons at the thought of my being forever alone, I am still a competent and capable autonomous lady.
I don’t let my choice of phone or computer or clothes define me as a person, but it’s rather nice to have the stuff I want from time to time. I don’t need salted caramel ice cream to live, but damn it, it’s bloody delicious and I do want it from time to time.
So, this valentine’s day, let us single feminists who kind of want a man but do not need one unite; let’s go eat salted ice cream together. Or chocolate ice cream. Or vanilla. Or mint. Or maybe you’re more of a frozen yoghurt type of person. Maybe you don’t want dessert at all.
Whatever you want or don’t want, that’s cool. Don’t let anyone judge you for wanting that ice cream, reader. As long as you’re a strong, independent and autonomous lady confident in her own skin, you go ahead and EAT THAT MOTHERF*KING ICE CREAM LIKE A CHAMP.
Metaphor over. I’m going to waddle off to the freezer now.
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