Welcome to the latest installment of Ms. Opinionated, in which readers have questions about the pesky day-to-day choices we all face, and I give advice about how to make ones that (hopefully) best reflect our shared commitment to feminist values—as well as advice on what to do when they don't. This week: when to mention you're a feminist to someone you're dating.
Dear Ms. Opinionated,As a woman in her early 20's and an adamant feminist, I am having the hardest time balancing my feminist beliefs with dating. When is the right time to "come out" as a feminist without dragging certain negative societal connotations into the mix? I want a potential romantic interest to share my passion for the feminist plight, but how can you tell if they share that commonality without first putting oneself on the line?
Welcome to the latest installment of Ms. Opinionated, in which readers have questions about the pesky day-to-day choices we all face, and I give advice about how to make ones that (hopefully) best reflect our shared commitment to feminist values—as well as advice on what to do when they don't. This week: how to tell the difference between having coffee and Having Coffee.
Welcome to "Ms. Opinionated," Bitch's new advice column, in which readers have questions about the pesky day-to-day choices we all face, and I give advice about how to makes ones that (hopefully) best reflect our shared commitment to feminist values—as well as advice on what to do when they don't.
First up: What do you do with a boyfriend who pooh-poohs your commitment to feminism because "men and women are totally equal now"?
I had felt unsafe in that space. The night had represented every micro aggression I'd ever experienced from straight people: cab drivers that kicked me out in the middle of the night because they wouldn't tolerate "that" at the back of their cabs, store managers who kept insisting I'd find better clothing in the women's section, every gay boy that looked me up and down with disdain because I wasn't conforming to their inherited fucked up view on what a woman should look like or wear to be "fabulous," straight women who blatantly ignored me because I didn't fit in the coop, and femme girls that ranted on and on about masculine privilege, but hardly ever acknowledged that their pretty privilege made their worlds so much bigger than mine. That my girl could mindlessly shimmy onto a dance floor even as a gay woman and enjoy the simple pleasure of a dance, go out with her straight friends to bars and not be stared at or called names, etc., while everything about the landscape, from the "Ladies free before 11PM" sign to the man-woman dance partner pairings made me so angry all of a sudden. And, I didn't know how to handle it.
So many people dream about having the kind of partner I have; the kind of person that will support you through thick and thin because they actually believe in you; the kind of woman who will deny herself the right to look and feel "pretty"—skip out on getting her hair cut, even when the ends are sleeping, and you're too much of a jackass to notice her non-answers when you tease her about it—just so she can support you. In the (many) moments when I doubted if I was choosing the right path/career for myself, and would talk about getting a "real" job, her assurance and unconditional support gave me so much gratitude; she was my rock, the pillar of our household, and our relationship. So, every single time some "boi" makes a sexist joke about bringing in the bacon for "my woman" or a straight dude presumes to know who "wears the pants" in the relationship, or a waiter assumes I'm the one that's paying the bill (even after she asks for it), I flip the f**k out.
Women who bring home the bacon: Hot or not? The research is mixed. Some guys say, "Yes, please help me through this 'Mancession.'" Others say, "Me, GUY. You LADY. HULK SMASH." (Translation: Please, let's just keep participating in Patriarchy, it's fine just the way it's always been. Let me hold that door open for you, girl.)
Shows like The Bachelor and Millionaire Matchmaker not only reduce romance to opulent displays of consumerism and gender conformity, but they distract us from actual consideration of the role of class in relationships and the need to negotiate those differences on a real, ongoing, interpersonal level.
Common perceptions of mental illness and relationships suggest that mentally ill people do not belong in relationships, do not deserve love and affection, and are even dangerous to marry or get involved with. Not for nothing are undesirable prospective partners "crazy bitches," are former partners whom we're supposed to hate "crazy exes." It is highly unusual to see a depiction of a functional relationship with a mentally ill partner or partners; such a thing is alien to the arbiters of relationships in pop culture.
Some depictions of mental illness in pop culture suggest that we are all overflowing with libido, unable to exercise any degree of control or restraint when it comes to sexuality. The oversexed female character in particular is a very familiar stereotype; look at Brenda on Six Feet Under, who is introduced to us having sex in an airport closet. On the road with Nate to give him a ride home, she says they shouldn't pretend this is the first time either one of them has had sex with a stranger. Implication: Stranger sex is just a thing that she does, and over the course of the series, it becomes apparent that this is because of her mental illness.
It seems that irrelevant talking animals are not the height of commercial vogue, leaving extra room for the gems Virgin Mobile has been bombarding me with at every break. And by "gems," I mean they're abso-freaking-lutely awful in every way. Take a look: