A feminist walks into a bar

In the age of Beyonce and Hillary Clinton fearlessly pushing their feminist identity to the forefront of the conversations they’re having, you’d think that dating as a feminist wouldn’t be any more difficult than normal. You’d think that the word “feminist” wouldn’t be dirty anymore. That describing yourself as such on a date, wouldn’t immediately move the nascent romance into a minefield of exploding cowdung.

I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time pondering this rather important matter. What to do when you actually quite like the person you’re on a date with? Do you keep this awful secret to yourself and lie to get laid? Do you let them figure it out on their own, hoping they would’ve glimpsed enough of all you have to offer and stay…? If you happen to be ambitious, how do you reconcile your lack of time with the fact that for as long as it takes them to arrive at this truth independently, you’ll be trying to figure out whether you’re wasting your precious time on them or not.

The thing is, I’m pretty open to anyone, as long as they can sustain an interesting conversation for more than a dinner and a drink. Diversity is the spice of life, amirite? And yet, every single person I dated since joining the movement has been a waste of time. Perhaps I do have a pattern after all.

There was a Max, who couldn’t understand why having “love” spelled on my coffee at the bar bothers me.

“It’s part of the Italian culture! We like to celebrate female beauty!”, said Max when I pointed it out. Sure, I’m all up for cultural diversity, but watching an Houellebecq of Caffeine fiddle with my drink isn’t exactly what I need to see first thing in the morning. I also don’t need said Houellebecq’s eyes on me as I bring the frothy masterpiece to my lips. I liked Max a lot, but no matter what comparisons to the “male” experience I tried to draw, he just couldn’t understand what a microagression is. Worst of all, he couldn’t understand that the coffee love letter is just one example of a thousand other microagressions I deal with on a daily basis in body-obsessed Italy. It didn’t work out with Max, though I follow his acting career.

There was an Alex, who was seemingly getting it.

One time, we were hanging out at his and I went online to add some new feminist writing to his amazon wishlist (he asked me to). Encouraged by this charming request, I showed him something on the Cooper Review, which I felt perfectly captured the frustrations of my working life. In his defence, he has never worked in an office, so I guess it’s only logical he wouldn’t get them. But it kinda escalated in a way I am still incredulous about. “These are actually completely misandrous,” he said. I thought he misspoke. “It’s a satire,” I tried to explain, still disbelieving. “No, no, this kind of satire is very damaging!” he was actually getting worked up over this. He then went on to explain why men need protection in the current cultural climate and why feminism needs to be alert of the damage it is doing. We decided to be just friends.

Then there was a Nick, who flat out told me “we don’t need feminism in the modern world”.

He wanted to know why on earth would I waste my valuable time on such an unnecessary movement. I learned from him that “women get paid less because they’re not as good at certain things as men are”; “the state knows best what’s good for the society at large, so women should be quiet and listen”; and “rape isn’t nearly as commonplace as it may seem”. We decided to not be friends.

There was a Trevor, with whom I went on a blind date.

Out of pure desperation to get some action, I purposely didn’t tell him I was a feminist. He figured it out pretty quickly anyway. He was smart, and smart is sexy as hell to me. So even when he said he was a masculinist, I went along with it. Little did I know, even if we shared almost all of the same worldviews, we still wouldn’t be able to understand each other, my feminism (or his masculinism) too deep a chasm between us. I doubt I’ll ever talk to him again, even though I’d like to, especially about the masculinism part.

Then there was a Bianca, and she was a feminist!

We met at a women’s support group, and she helped me work through some pretty nasty stuff. She was my mentor, my shining beacon and I fell so hard for her, even though we’d never been on a real date. I asked her out, she agreed. First thing she wanted to know was if I was gay. Fair enough. I’m not, and I usually date men, though she wasn’t the first woman I’d been involved with. Over the course of our “going out” she repeatedly, for the lack of a better word, MANSPLAINED that I needed to decide and pick one gender to be attracted to. She offered to coach me through my lesbian awakening, which to her mind was the next logical step from the feminist one… I didn’t disagree with her for a while and ended up breaking her heart. I still love dick.

I could go on, but it’d just make me sad. You get the picture. Dating is awful. Feminist or not. Straight, bi, or gay.

We might live in the age of Hillary, but it also happens to be the age of Trump.

Sometimes when I meet a guy, and we start talking about my feminism (not his, obv), I just want him to admit that the system is designed to benefit him. That’s all I’m asking, and I’m still asking too much. I am yet to go on a Tinder date, and my expectations are so low, it might actually go well, relatively speaking. And if it sucks, at least I have the perfect method to end it: I’ll just tell them I’m a feminist.

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