By no means do I qualify as a love guru, but I do actually think I give solid, empowering advice here that deserves to be shared, particularly among women frustrated in this thing we call ‘dating’. A key part to smashing the patriarchy is to break the stereotypes that women should be the passive and submissive gender. This applies to all parts of life, not least of all our love lives.
From: GUSMAN, Johanna
Sent: 8 March 2017 04:34
Subject: Real talk.
It a little bit broke my heart that I had to end our phone call so abruptly so as to run to a stupid meeting and hear stupid people say stupid things all in the spirit of trying to make themselves appear more important. As you know, the UN is one big ego fest, but it gets especially unbearable when I have to leave a friend in need just to view a version of the Hunger Games procession waiting for Katniss Everdean to set on fire and then go about my day. Seriously, pomp and circumstance fill my schedule, but I want you to know that you will forever be more important to me than any of that shit and I have been contemplating the best way to follow up our conversation in a real and empowering way.
One of the best parts of our friendship is our ability to communicate openly and effectively with each other (with punctuated hilarities that make receiving your messages/commentary feel like little bits of soul food, as in literal sustenance for my actual soul). I have no trouble telling you things that would take years for me to build the confidence and trust to tell any man.
So I get why, when you take the time to build towards an actual meaningful connection with a person of the opposite sex, when you contemplate on a deeper level the things you choose to reveal and not reveal, when you show more sides of yourself in smart and intentional ways, and especially when you construct expectations based on these parameters, hearing that such a person can so easily stick his tongue down another woman’s throat can actually be devastating. And I don’t mean to use that word in its dramatic sense; I mean it purely in its absolute terms: damaging and destructive.
Every time we ‘do all the right things’ and ‘put ourselves out there’ (particularly when thought out and deliberate) only for it be met with such carelessness, it’s damaging and destructive to our confidence and willingness to want to do such actions again. And the damned annoying part of it all is that if we are to find our person, we have to do so again and again…and again and again. Because as we have often discussed, the person who will actually be worth it is not going to be easy to find, not in this day in age. We just won’t settle for less.
And honestly, I think that is a major factor for our current situations. So many people simply settle. In jobs, in life, in love. If neither of us are willing to settle for our careers, than of course we are not willing to settle when it comes to life and love. Never before has such opportunity existed for educated women of our age in our particular demographic (but disclaimer we have so much farther to go hence wage gap being one of the major focuses for #IWD2017). So it would be so out of character to simply take what we can get for a partner and settle. I am not saying to have unrealistic standards for a significant other, but it is much easier to find someone when the dating pool world is college and not when the world is, you know, the actual freaking world.
So minimum standard: No dumbass douchebags. Simple and easy. The issue is that they are fucking everywhere. And since they tend to be drawn to high power places, we have to deal with them in even higher concentrations. And again, like we have often discussed, men are just so very unimpressive. I am in shock and awe as to how many inspirational, aspirational, and down right admirable women exist in this world. And I’m like where are all the men of comparable quality? Meaning actual men. An actual man. Not a man-boy. A man.
We have to empower ourselves to actually take what we deserve. I think somewhere in this crazy narrative of love, even in 2017 and even amongst the wokest of women, we still to some degree buy into that ideal that men fall in love with women and that they are the ones to initiate relationships and steer their course. To me, that is simply a modern version or a veiled version of caveman love: hit woman with club, drag her by hair into cave.
Why can’t we reverse the stereotype? I am not just talking Sady Hawkins dance style. As women, we have got to stop letting such massive life decisions happen so passively to us. It is not about waiting around for men to wake the fuck up, grow the fuck up, stop being fuck ups, etc. it is about actually making this relationship thing an equal endeavor. A 50/50 partnership, right from the get go, right from the decision to become a couple in the first place.
I think our generation, despite the fact that the term ‘gender equality’ was at least built into our vocabulary from a young age as compared to our parent’s generation, has really missed the mark on this. We have shied away from the deliberate decision to enter into relationships in the first place, and have overlaid it with the casual date dance (Are we or aren’t we? What does this or that mean? No one willing to admit feelings. Everyone basing decisions on speculations of what the other person may or may not want. Everyone trying not to be hurt but getting more hurt in the process, ironically because of trying to avoid the process in the first place).
Well, when undefined-ness is the layer that we replace with intention, then of course men are once again the privileged sex. Because by default, society will always privilege them. Relationships will always privilege them unless we empower ourselves to be the decision makers also.
I am unsure if any of this made sense. It is 4:30am and I am nervous about my speech at tomorrow (well today’s) demonstration with Women’s March Geneva on #equalpay. This is probably why so much of this email is embedded with feminist perspectives and challenges to the status quo. Haha. But at least I know you appreciate this and would expect nothing less of me!
All the love,
*Please note that this email presents a very heteronormative perspective on relationships due to the fact that it was in reference to a specific situation pertaining to a heterosexual friend (and I identify as such also). It would be a cool exercise to expand on these perspectives with other lenses too, so please share if you have some!
**Feature Image: The Parakeet & the Mermaid, Henri Matisse (1952) (used for noncommercial purpose)