Valentine’s day is just around the corner and every feminist’s principal concern at this time of year is will you be spending February the 14th smothered by red roses and teddy bears before being whisked off to dine in a fancy restaurant? Or will you find yourself alone in your studio apartment with a bottle of wine, only your five cats for company and re-reading The Handmaid’s Tale for the 10th time?
I know it’s a tough time of year for most women: the fear of being single can be almost paralysing. But for feminists it can be particularly traumatic. We have a reputation for being man-hating, kill joys and it is difficult for some men to see past that. Even for the odd man who does manage to overcome this prejudice, he generally doesn’t want to spend a first date comparing strategies for achieving real gender equality, reproductive rights, an end to rape culture and smashing the patriarchy.
Well, fellow feminists, fear no more! The REAL Feminist’s Guide to Dating ® is guaranteed to get you the perfect guy just in time for him to plan your unforgettable first date on February 14th. You may have heard of other so-called ‘love gurus‘ or ‘dating coaches‘ who guarantee that they can help you ‘bag your dream guy’, but this is the real deal, sweetie. My ten step programme takes you through the main feminist pitfalls that prevent us from achieving an optimum dating experience. On completion of this programme there will be nothing stopping you from finding long-lasting love and commitment (which we all know is what every feminist secretly longs for, but rarely admits to).
Step 1: Dealing with the Patriarchy
This is the first and most crucial step ladies. The greatest obstacle to a satisfying dating life is your feminist fixation with the patriarchy. We all know that patriarchy is a global plot that bestows unearned privilege to white, christian, males and maintains women everywhere in differing degrees of subordination, denying them full enjoyment of their human rights, bodily integrity and participation in public life. But that’s old news, sisters! In order to have a successful dating life you just have to ‘get over it’. Besides it is boring and men are generally threatened when anyone brings up the fact that they may be benefitting from unearned privilege.
So to avoid emasculating your potential partners you need to just postpone the conversation on how patriarchy forces us into relationships based on binary notions of gender and sexual difference, ascribing stereotypical characteristics to men and women, until after the marriage certificate has been signed. Meanwhile, you can distract yourself with simple pleasures such as the company of a strong man who will hold the door open for you, pay for your dates, treat you like a princess and of course protect you from the harmful aspects of the patriarchy that you are no longer going to discuss openly, like rape and gender based violence.
Step 2: Just be yourself…
… but not your whole self, be the glossiest, photoshopped, version of yourself without all the neediness, whininess and drama that women are so prone to. These ‘female’ traits are a definite turn-offs for most men and likely to send prince charming running in for the hills.
It’s ok to show some vulnerability, but only in very small doses and only if it serves to make your partner feel strong, to give him an opportunity to feel like he is protecting you. You can even tell him he ‘makes you feel safe’ (he will then be putty in your hands).
Don’t actually let him know how you really feel or think about your relationship, this could be off-putting and tip you over into the ‘neediness’ category. Just bite your tongue and hope that in some drunken, post-orgasmic, haze he may one day suggest going exclusive.
And whatever you do don’t get angry! Hasn’t called you in three days? Refuses to answer your text messages? Didn’t accompany you or offer to go halves on the morning after pill? No need to get all dramatic about it. Men aren’t used to having to take responsibility for these ‘little accidents’ that might happen during a night of average love-making, that’s women’s business.
Step 3: Be independent…
It goes without saying that feminists are strong, independent women, but you shouldn’t get ahead of yourself and come across as too strong or too independent, least of all arrogant. This is very disconcerting for men. Their fragile egos can rarely withstand the full force of a confident, independent feminist.
Anyway, modesty is the greatest sign of a confident woman: a woman who is so truly confident in herself never has to talk about her successes or achievements, apparently they can speak for themselves.
When discussing politics, don’t get emotional, always keep your composure and remember the most important thing is to always maintain your sex appeal even whilst arguing. Angry feminists (now known as ‘nasty women‘) are a real turn off! If you disagree on something, don’t challenge him directly, but find a way to put your point across without denting his ego. Don’t forget, when in public allow him opportunities to place his arm possessively around your shoulder to ward off competition from other males who might be attracted to your independence.
Step 4: …but not so demanding,
It’s all well and good to fight for reproductive rights and equal pay for women, but are these going to keep you warm at night? The next step to reactivating your love life as a feminist is to begin to realize you can’t have it all. Career, adventures, children, friends, holidays? That is the kind of life style only men (or women with the means to employ 24/7 childcare) can ever aspire to. Set your career goals a little lower, take less holidays, forget about that year of volunteering in Guatemala and make time in your life to actively search for love (via subscriptions to Tinder, OK Cupid, Guardian Soulmates etc.) then sit back and see the results. You will be out of the dating desert in no time.
Step 5: … and certainly not intimidating!
Eager to share the news of your promotion? Wait until the end of dinner, after your partner has had a chance to tell you every detail from his hectic day. Excited that your latest article on feminist literature got published in the Huffington Post? Preface this news by reminding your partner how much you loved reading his undergraduate thesis on the origins of computer programming. When he comes over for the first time make sure the first thing he sees are your Games of Thrones DVDs. This will send him the message that you’re a fun-loving gal that can overlook the voyeuristic sexual violence and misogyny of everybody’s favourite TV show. Hide the De Beauvoir, Feddericci, hooks and Lourde under the bed where he is unlikely to find them, feminist literature is a definite mood killer!
Step 6: Remember, all men are the same…
Forget what feminism, queer theory and gender benders like David Bowie, Prince, Freddy Mercury and George Takei (still alive!!) may have taught us about the many different ways to be a man and express male sexual desire, because all men are basically the same. The same desires, the same sexual impulses and the same demands of women. They all have their idiosyncrasies but in generally once you understand one man, you will get them all!
Step 7: …but don’t forget that, #notallmen!
All men are generally the same except when your discussing violence against women or misogyny in general, where it is important to always mention #notallmen. You have to stop blaming men for reproducing and benefitting from the inequalities inherent in the patriarchy. So let’s be a bit kinder to the male of the species by trying to understand their needs and learning how their minds work. Feminist activism can be all-consuming but it is important to dedicate some time, energy and, if needs be, money, to studying the intricacies of the male mind. If you keep clinging on to the hope that men will start questioning their privileges and fighting to end racial, sexual, class and gender inequalities, you’ll never get anywhere. You don’t want to be left on the shelf do you?
Step 8: Don’t mention the C words!!
Cunt, commitment, children… the three words no man ever wants to hear coming out of your pretty, little, lip-glossed mouth.
Cunt: well that’s just far to crude a word for any lady to repeat. If you have to refer to the fact that you are in the possession of a vulva, vagina or uterus, please use a more polite turn of phrase like ‘lady parts.’ Men hate to acknowledge the existence of female sex organs unless they are penetrating them. And whatever you do, don’t mention the fact that your cunt may bleed once a month and cause any number of unpleasant sensations likes swollen and sensitive breasts, lack of libido, cramping, constipation or mood swings. These can be generically referred to as your ‘lady pains’. If he really is a keeper, he might even go to the trouble of preparing a chamomile tea and hot water bottle for you, if you ask nicely.
Commitment: dress it up how you want, all men are scared of commitment and have to be cajoled, persuaded or manipulated into making a long-term commitment to any woman. This is however an essential part of ‘getting the guy’ and ‘keeping the guy.’ You have to make sure that he is the ‘one’, that this relationship will last forever, and that there is no one else for him but you. Rejection is literally the worst thing that could ever happen to you, yes, worse than cancer.
Marriage is the ultimate goal, obviously, just make sure he doesn’t realise that is what you’re thinking. In those ‘difficult cases’ you can always resort to ‘accidentally’ getting pregnant, thus tying him to you for life. Or you could orchestrate a contractually arranged marriage between your fathers, the dowry or bride price being optional. And don’t whatever you do listen to your feminist friends when they tell you that marriage is a capitalist, patriarchal construct, that traps women in relationship dynamics based on inequality. You shouldn’t even have any feminist friends left by now.
Children: Tick, tock, tick, tock… do you know what that means? It’s your biological clock ticking. Are you in your thirties? Are you childless? Don’t you know your ovaries are shrinking and dying by the minute? It’s time you got serious about having children!
Everyone knows that it is a woman’s principal purpose in life to become a mother. Why else would we have womb’s after all? The problem is that women’s ovaries have an expiry date. Men can happily procreate into their 70’s or beyond but women in their thirties often enter a crisis when faced with the prospect remaining single and childless for the rest of their lives. Is there a worse fate that could befall a woman? Do you want to end up like Jennifer Aniston?
Even so, the last thing you should do is actually mention this crisis to a potential partner, as it will inevitably send him running for the hills. Men are too busy having fun with the lads and messing around to even think of key life decisions like procreation. So keep it to yourself and in the mean time you can secretly assess every date for his ‘paternity potential’ and test his sperm count and motility by collecting the residue post-coital discarded condoms (you have up to 24 hours to send them for analysis).
Step 9: Always be sexually available for your partner
The surest way to get a guy and keep a guy is through sex. In this patriarchal world where women are overwhelmingly regarded as sex objects, sex is where our only power lies. We are the gate keepers, we have the power to ‘give it away’ or keep it under lock and key.
Once you bag your guy, the surest way to ‘keep’ him is to never deny your partner sex. It doesn’t matter if you’re not in the mood, have a headache or are simply too tired. Men’s personal validation lies almost completely in their sexual performance, thus, by denying him sex, for all but the most compelling of reasons, like a broken limb or your mother’s funeral, you are actually contributing to his emasculation, devaluing him as a man and a human being.
Of course this isn’t the case with women, we have to find our own sources of validation and should not become needy or dependent on men. So if he, for some odd reason (like illness or injury), isn’t putting out, just be patient and wait until he is back on form.
Some feminists might suggest masturbation if you are feeling a little horny, but everyone knows only men masturbate and your partner might feel threatened to see you experiencing genuine pleasure at your own hands.
Finally, it is vital to remember that pleasure is paramount for good sex. Your partner needs to see that you are enjoying yourself, that he is man enough to bring you to spasms of ecstasy. I’m not telling you to fake it or anything, just to let him know unequivocally how much you enjoy a good three-minute pounding.
Step 10: Living happily ever after?
This may seem like a radical departure from the principles of feminism and women’s empowerment that have been guiding your actions all these years. Well, in fact it is, but those very principals are probably the reason you are still single. You can smooth the transition to my programme by taking some time out to watch every Disney movie that was ever made (except for Brave and Maleficent) as part of your process of female re-education. These are some of the best sources available for re-learning what it means to be a woman, gender roles in heterosexual relationships, to replace your feminist chants for liberation with whimsical and sexist singalongs and how to live happily ever after with your prince charming. Eventually you may even forget that feminism ever happened allowing you to remain in blissfully ignorant of how your dating and/or married life actually reproduces oppressive, patriarchal, gender norms.