One of the great things about being married are the many instances where you broaden each other’s cultural horizons. Having been married for almost four years now, I’m proud of how much Sister Babe’s knowledge base has expanded. She can speak more intelligently about the Philadelphia Eagles’ depth at the Tight End position than many Philly residents. She admitted that after enough exposure to some of the music that I listen to, when Black Sabbath comes on the radio it doesn’t sound as heavy to her as it used to. She’s been around enough WWE Pro Wrestling playing in the background to the point where she even knows most of the jargon. When she asked me whether Michael Chiklis’ character on “The Shield” (Detective Mackey) was supposed to be good or bad, my explanation that “He’s basically a heel who often wrestles as a face” answered her question.1 And don’t get me started on how much Sister Babe wishes that she knew far less about those two triumvirates of comedic genius, The Trailer Park Boys and Workaholics than she does.
Of course, every relationship is a two way street, and I can tell you more about The Bachelor and The Bachelorette than I ever would have imagined possible. I’m probably more in touch with Top 40 songs on the radio than I’ve been in years. And when we used to watch the show “Chuck” during its run our differing tastes complemented each other well in picking up the many pop-culture references throughout the show. Sometimes our bad TV partially merges, such as when I referred to one show she used to watch as “Say Yes! Yes! Yes! to the Dress! Dress! Dress!”.
One other area where I’ve benefitted is the fact that Sister Babe had us subscribe to the Sunday edition of The Washington Post. I haven’t received the paper myself in over 10 years after an obnoxious move from their subscription department at a former residence of mine. But thanks to Sister Babe I now read their paper over weekend breakfast2 and got to read this unintentional comedic gem in their Opinion section, “How to Find a Feminist Boyfriend”. Robert Stacy McCain took a brief but excellent swing at this editorial piñata and talked about revisiting, but this story was overcome in the news cycle by the Charlie Hebdo massacre. McCain summed up the story with a tweet from Kyle Smith: How to remain single until you are Maureen Dowd’s age. So McCain opened beautifully with the first words of his article:
Lisa Bonos (@lisabonos) has published a column headlined “How to find a feminist boyfriend” that reads like an Onion parody:
“I find it really attractive how successful you are,” my date said, leaning in for a kiss. Sure, it sounds like a line. But it also sounds like feminism. . . .
(No, it’s a line. Trust me.)
Read the whole thing. It’s a fun two minute read. An article like this is just begging to be pulled apart thread by thread, so allow me to take you deeper into the mind of a radical feminist. First off, to go back to the quote from McCain that I cited, “I find it really attractive how successful you are”, I’m guessing that she would not be impressed with a date who told her, “I find it really attractive that you’re so proud of the fact that you’re too stupid to manage a nine dollar monthly expense“. But that’s what passes for “empowerment” among the radical left.
Few guys will proudly say no when asked if they’re feminists. Instead it’s a wholehearted yes, a lukewarm maybe or Can you define what you mean by “feminist,” please?
The simple answer is a confident “No”. Any woman so far gone as to think that that would be a question that needs to be asked most likely has a rabid, fringe view that no self-respecting man could possibly have. I’ll flesh out my last remark throughout the rest of this post. Let’s continue with Bonos’ definitions of what makes a feminist man:
Is he a feminist if he proclaims, on a first date, that he could see himself taking his wife’s last name? (Maybe his own name is pretty generic.)
No. Even one of my very leftist buddies considered both he and his wife taking & combining each others’ names, (Smith-Brown, Brown-Smith, for example), but ultimately any guy who does this is announcing to the world that the rest of his life will be spent in misery under his wife’s thumb. Fair or unfair, that’s how he’d get judged. And there’s no upside to doing so, save for applause in a few radical leftist circles.
If he insists on doing the dishes after you’ve cooked dinner together but proceeds to whip the dish towel at your ass, is that playful or objectifying? (Both.)
The correct response from the woman is to whip a dish towel at his arse when the opportunity presents, and in a playful manner. If his doing that makes you feel objectified then do the damned dishes yourself.
Is he sexist if he cancels an Uber ride because a female driver is on her way to pick the two of you up? (Definitely.)
More accurately he’s an idiot, but I’m actually with Bonos on this one. A better question is why would she be dating a Saudi prince
Does he need to believe that men and women, are equals and should be treated as such? (Uh, yes.)
I agree with that statement on the surface, but I think our definitions differ. For example, I have a feeling if Bonos and I were boarding a flight together and she asked me to help put her heavy carry-on in the overhead compartment, if I lightheartedly chuckled “Do it yourself, feminist!” it wouldn’t go over too well. The bottom line is we all have differences, and I have no problem deferring to Sister Babe the tasks that she does better than me and vice-versa. It’s the zero-sum game mentality of the victim class that’s the real issue here.
Does he need to be actively fighting for social, political and economic justice for women — and for all people, really — to identify as a feminist? (Not necessarily. But if he’s doing that, great.)
Too much stupid to comment on here – that remark by itself could easily warrant a post of its own.
(As for who picks up the check on a first date, let’s obliterate the gender pay gap first, then put that one back up for debate.)
I’m assuming Bonos is looking for a man who likes an intelligent woman. Personally, I like a woman who has the intelligence to obliterate the lazy gender pay gap talking points and is willing to think for herself and get her facts straight before forming an opinion rather than just swallowing whatever mindless tripe the “feminists” feed her. Wait a minute? I’m not threatened by an intelligent woman? Maybe I have the makings of a male feminist!
Of course, way too many guys think they’re feminists but don’t live up to it. A true male feminist is supportive of, interested in and enthusiastic about his partner’s career. He might not expect to earn more than his partner or think that his career trumps hers; a feminist couple might relocate for the woman’s career.
Here is that zero sum mentality on display again. I’m sure that some guys can’t handle their woman making more than them, and if they do that’s a personal issue. The bigger point here is that when you get married all that matters is your combined income, or as Sister Babe and I used to say frequently as we were getting used to the combined finances, “it’s all going to/coming from the same pot”. So if Sister Babe were to get a job offer that paid significantly more than my current salary, I’d be very supportive. But if it includes a relocation to a place where the only job I can get is flipping burgers I would not support it because it would hurt our overall household income. If you’re viewing a relationship as a zero sum game you’re only guaranteeing misery for you and your partner.
When it comes to that attraction, a feminist man makes sure — verbally — that his partner is on board, rather than just forging ahead. “Never assume I’d like it there,” as Annie Werner, a 25-year-old who works for Tumblr in New York, says when talking about the importance of sexual consent.
“If you’re a woman who wants a man to grab you and kiss you because that’s what sweeps you off your feet, realistically, a feminist man is not going to do that,” says Rita Goodroe, a 38-year-old life coach in Northern Virginia who works mostly with singles. “He’s going to ask for permission.” I’d rather have permission than confusion.
There are so many responses that my crude sense of humor is dying to write, but I make a point to keep my posts family friendly, and I think I can make point better by taking the high road, which is: Communication is the most important part of any relationship. This isn’t suggesting that an X-rated conversation is needed for what Bonos is talking about, but at the end of the day if your partner is proposing something from way out of left field that disgusts you or makes you really uncomfortable I’m guessing that the problem is lack of communication, or lack of respect. Or both, and each are relationship killers, feminist or otherwise.
A feminist dater or boyfriend (and yes, feminists have boyfriends) is aware of the ways women have traditionally been held back, by others and by our own accord, and actively pushes against that. He’s sensitive to the fact that women’s bodies are frequently judged, abused and legislated, and takes no part in that. He gets it.
The only part of that statement that I’ll comment on is “abused and legislated”. Although I can’t find the original tweet, @Iowahawkblog offered the wisdom that said something to the effect of “I support a woman’s right to choose whatever health care plan she wants to offer her employees.”
As an experiment, Megan Downey, a 24-year-old social marketing specialist in Washington, has a very succinct Tinder profile: a few pictures of herself and the word “feminist.”
“I was just wondering if there were men out there who were not afraid of the word ‘feminist,’ ” she tells me.
Downey says she heard from one or two guys who wanted to fight about what the word meant. And then she found one who wasn’t afraid of the F-bomb: A man wrote to her that it was “great to see a feminist on Tinder” — he self-identifies as a Marxist feminist and has studied the history of gender inequality and how it has affected the economy, she says. They saw each other for about three months.
I kind of agree with Bonos on this one – everyone has traits that are higher priority than others. While Sister Babe and I don’t see eye to eye on all political issues, at the end of the day they’re just not that important to either of us to dictate friendships or relationships (Realizing we shared a somewhat sick sense of humor on our second date trumped any politics). And I understand that DC will naturally attract people who value politics more than your average American. But my big problem with the left and its valuation of political views is that they’ll overlook severe character problems, no matter how repulsive. Last year when I wrote about how the National Democrats were bringing their War on Women to Northern Virginia I cited a quote from Michael Bongiomo:
In the dogmatic world of progressive ideology, a liberal politician can be forgiven for the serial abuse of women as long as he pays homage to a virtually unfettered “right” to an abortion, preferably paid for with taxpayer dollars. As a result, the Democrats’ War on Women continues, with Generals Weiner, Lopez, Silver, Clinton and Spitzer leading the way.
I have a feeling that Bonos and the people in her circles are in the camp of completely overlooking minor flaws like infidelity, physical abuse, or being abandoned to drown when proper leftist credentials are present.
But you don’t just wake up one day next to a partner who’s enlightened because he grew up with lesbian aunts.
This is not The Onion you’re reading – I’m not kidding when I said that this actually appeared in the Washington Post!
Laurie Davis, the founder of eFlirt, an online-dating consulting company, says there’s been a shift in how people refer to their ideal partners in online profiles. “I see people allude to feminist traits in their profiles,” she says, such as men seeking women who are “independent or similarly successful” — or listing “Lean In” as a book they’ve read recently.
I’m with Bonos again on this point. Back in my days of online dating (which coincided with when Obama became president) I’d see phrases in online profiles like “Grateful that Obama is president!” or “Glad that Bush is gone!” as ones who I could chalk up in the “bats*** crazy” column and move on. Of course, I’m not one to talk given some of the strange stuff I listed in my online profile. But there was a method to my madness, as some of the things I listed were there to weed out the boring, timid, or fringe DC people – such as someone seeking a feminist boyfriend.
Sometimes the signs of a person’s worldview are more subtle. When I spoke to Samhita Mukhopadhyay, a former executive editor of Feministing.com and the author of “Outdated: Why Dating Is Ruining Your Love Life,” she complained about men’s online profiles that list their favorite musicians and writers, but don’t include a single woman. “Everyone loves Thomas Pynchon,” she said. “It’s like: Do you know that women make art, too?”
Um, yes I was aware of that fact. Personally I don’t believe in discriminating against musicians or authors based on gender – it just happens that men created my personal favorites. When a feminist writes a book as awesome as Cadillac Beach or The Stranger, or a female band composes masterpieces like Flight of Icarus or South of Heaven I’ll have no problem calling them my favorites. What I won’t do is lower the bar for anyone based on their gender – that would be sexist!
Sometimes expressing feelings doesn’t feel “brave” or “bold,” but stereotypically girly. When Annie Werner tells me about her recent breakup — “I was dumped because my self-assuredness was unrelatable” — her indignation is extremely relatable.
“It just never seems like you were open to self-doubt,” Werner said her ex told her, a critique that she says came out of nowhere. “There were never moments of vulnerability, which are often moments that lead to real intimacy.”
Anyone reading this might not be the best sample to ask this question, but do any of you know any guy who could spout crud like this during a breakup (or ever)? My advice to Ms. Werner: next time instead of dating a Marxist feminist who has studied the history of gender inequality and how it has affected the economy, try dating a man.
At first she thought this breakup rationale was ridiculous. But once she thought about how she — and other women like her — has built herself up “as this feminist, this self-assured woman, this strong person,” she realized that “it becomes harder to access the more feminine parts of yourself that could be more positive.”
“There’s this persona we create for ourselves that doesn’t compute with vulnerability,” she added.
Exactly. Because a woman at her most vulnerable could be taken advantage of. And that’s no one’s feminist fantasy.
Um, actually being able to show your most vulnerable side for a man or a woman is part of the trust that comes with having a serious relationship.
But the opposite — showing little emotion in budding relationships — could be the “cool girl” trap. Mukhopadhyay talks about the subtle sexism she sees in the way women avoid talking about their feelings in relationships, so as not to be cast as a stereotypical woman who gets too emotional.
“I might be cool with casual sex, but that doesn’t necessarily make me this ‘cool girl’ who’s detached from emotion,” Mukhopadhyay says.
Isn’t this the whole cool detachment embodied in the “Slut Walk” culture that’s part of today’s feminist dogma?
Which brings us back to that elusive feminist boyfriend. If the feminist man is all about blending strength and sensitivity, balancing traditionally masculine traits with traditionally feminine ones, it’s a balance women are also trying to navigate. And that’s a concept that doesn’t fit on a T-shirt.
In her closing comments Bonos almost sounds rational – almost. If you’re getting hung up about blending all of these traits as opposed to just finding someone with whom you can be happy and who respects you then you’re probably not having much success. Does dating a feminist mean that his supporting your every political platform trumps trivialities like the fact that he might solicit prostitutes behind your back, or maybe humiliates you by announcing that he’s cheated on you on national TV and then just a few short years later makes you look like the most clueless woman alive or a hapless enabler by getting you to proclaim him a conspiracy victim, or maybe you’re lucky enough to find that special kind of man who leaves you to die a lonely drowning death after a car accident because it could hurt his career?
Look, I have no delusions of being God’s gift to women – Sister Babe puts up with a lot (see the opening paragraph). But at the end of the day who cares more about women? One who disagrees with most of the radical feminist agenda but treats the women in his life, especially his wife, with respect, or the one who supports every feminist cause on the checklist but treats the women who he personally interacts with like garbage? It will be interesting to look back years from now and see if Bonos does end up getting married, and how it works for her. I honestly hope that she ends up with somebody who makes her happy, and I can say one thing with total confidence – whatever kind of man Bonos ends up with will be exactly the kind of man that she deserves.
On a lighter note, to close with the always great @Iowahawkblog:
Protip, ladies: “I’m a male feminist” is Manglish for “this is my only hope of getting laid” http://t.co/Y3H6VCNyXf
— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) January 6, 2015
Cross posted from Brother Bob’s Blog
1 In pro-wrestling lingo, a “heel” is the term for the bad guy in the ring, while “face” is short for “baby face”, or the good guy in any match. To give an example in political terms, “Joe Lieberman was a career heel, but the betrayal by his stable (group of allied wrestlers) over the Iraq War had him wrestling as a face up until his retirement.”
2 Yes, I know that I can read The Post online too, but reading an electronic device at the dining table has a negative impact on getting Little Bob to eat his breakfast.