Because of the feminist movement, there have been female astronauts, movie producers, and Supreme Court Justices. Thanks to the trailblazers that came before us, women now have access to voting booths, birth control, and equal pay. But at the risk of sounding unappreciative, the feminist movement has royally fucked up the dating scene in the twenty-first century.
At forty, I own a condo and I bought it without a man having to cosign my mortgage. I have a 401k, investments, and a job that pays me well enough to enjoy things like a German sedan, Prada purses, and produce from Wholefoods. The hiccup is that all of this independence challenges the courting process.
"What the heck is the point of a flirt?" my friend asked me the other day, referring to a way of communicating on dating websites.
"It helps you identify which men are total pussies. That's the point," I replied. "Any man who needs to rely on a passive, pre-formatted one-liner to get my attention clearly has a vagina. It's on par with throwing sand in my face and then running away."
The feminist movement has given women access to everything, including courting a man. The problem is that most men, instead of stepping up their game, have taken this as a cue to sit back and relax. Not only do they no longer have to pursue a woman, but the woman will bring home the bacon, whip up a lavish meal, do the dishes, fold the laundry, and make sure the kids are tended to. A man takes out the trash. Yes, I'm generalizing. But I am also looking back at past relationships and men with whom I'm friendly. Challenge me all you want but you know I'm pretty much correct here.
A psychologist named Dr. Patricia Allen has noted that there are two energies in a personal relationship: feminine and masculine. The feminine wants to be cherished for her feelings. The masculine wants to be respected for his thoughts. Your genitalia has nothing to do with what role you play. There are masculine women and feminine men. Also, you can be both, acting masculine at the workplace but presenting with feminine at home. The problem is understanding what you want and then playing the proper role to get it.
"This guy who wants to take me out thinks Ru San is the best sushi in town," I said to Leslie over lunch yesterday.
"Really? Yuck. That place is cheesy and the pits!" she replied.
"I know! And all I could think was, 'Can I really respect a man for his thoughts when such thoughts include thinking shitty sushi is divine?' By the way, it gets worse."
"How can it get worse than that?"
"He decided he also needed to convince me Italian cuisine in the states is edible, starting with his favorite spot in Atlanta, Baraonda. E loved that place, meaning I've eaten there a bunch of times. Also, it suuuuuuuuucks."
"So what did you do?" Leslie asked, laughter dotting the question.
"I feigned sleepiness and got off the phone. I'm supposed to respect his thoughts and I couldn't do it so I figured I'd just go to bed."
This morning I relayed the story to another friend, including the anxiety I felt when I couldn't figure out how to respond without sounding masculine.
"No, you can have an opinion," she explained. "You just need to phrase it as a feeling. Something like, I don't feel comfortable in that environment."
"Ohhhhhhhhh! That's a huge relief. Because I was on the precipice of dropping out of the dating scene if it meant forfeiting all brain power."
"Ha! Silly girl. But I do think, in this instance, you should have just gone with the masculine response. You're palate is too sophisticated for this guy."
I hung up the phone and looked around my apartment. Tonight I'm meeting a local lawyer for drinks. Tomorrow a liberal leaning real estate investor is taking me to dinner. And after speaking with my friend, after realizing that morphing toward the feminine doesn't mean surrendering one's thoughts or identity, I'm ready to give this feminine energy thing another go. Translation: I won't even do the requisite wallet reach. After all, I don't FEEL that is an appropriate gesture seeing both of these men invited me out.