Sex & Relationships

How to date a feminist

By  | 
Sjale / Shutterstock

Sjale / Shutterstock

Dave Hon, heartbreaker of feminists everywhere, says he’ll never date a feminist. But what happens if you end up dating a feminist woman?

The problem is that the act of dating is an act of uncertainty. You don’t know how things will go or whether there will be mutual attraction. The heteronormative rituals and scripts surrounding dating are often used to make things feel less awkward, but can also piss off feminists.

The good news is you’re not dating all the feminists in the world, who all have different ideas and druthers. You only need to consider the one you’re on a date with, that person you know well enough to want to date. Her individual preferences take priority, but there are some basic rules if you’re going to date a feminist.

Act naturally

There’s a stereotype of feminists as hideous, man-hating, prudes, but this likely isn’t true of the one you’re seeing. You don’t need to worry about her freaking out if you say she looks nice or that she’ll be offended that you want to sleep with her or something. Presumably you’re both on this date because of some mutual attraction.

Now, I’m not saying that you can let any stupid thought you have fall out of your mouth; basic civility is still a requirement here. But as long as Roger Ailes isn’t your seduction mentor you’re probably fine.

If you were brought up to be chivalrous and you are at your most relaxed opening doors for your date and whatnot, just do it. If you feel strange going through the motions of chivalry, just stop. Do what feels natural. Unless your date literally needs help with the door, she’ll be fine. You obviously second guessing your every motion is much more awkward than your date figuring out how you normally act.

Skip the movie

I know I’m being harsh, but romantic comedies are usually stuffed with tired, sexist tropes, and other movies billed as lighted hearted and fun are equally bad. You’ll both end up bored or frustrated.

However, the majority of interesting movies are horrible for dates. You can watch Only God Forgives and have a great discussion afterwards, but the terror and nausea will prevent even mild handholding.

Unless you’re both movie buffs, it may be easier to do something else than find a decent date movie that’s feminist friendly. Plus, you can get to know each other instead spending 90 – 120 minutes in silence.

The money thing

It’s crap if she asks you out to an expensive restaurant and expects you to foot the entire bill. It’s also crap if you think that you’re owed sex because of it.

It depends on the people involved, but I think whoever arranges the date can handle payment. That person knows what their budget is and what kind of activities they can afford.

Paying for things equitably can also happen organically: you buy lunch, while she handles the museum entry fee; she buys the concert tickets, while you foot the drinks and parking cost; etc. There’s no need to keep track of every payment; you’re dating, not starting a business.

Above all, I think a measure of grace goes a long way. It’s a nice, inexpensive gesture to just buy two coffees on the first date when you’re making sure neither of you are serial killers. If you have a higher paying job you may end up spending more than her, and vice versa. Not being a turd about treating or being treated is part of dating.

Sex stuff

If a good date ends with getting busy in the sheets, good for you both! High fives all around!

Again, feminists don’t universally hate men, penises, various sexual acts, etc. There are some things to keep in mind, though, which honestly apply to anyone you date.

Neither of you should be using alcohol as a tool to push the other person’s limits. That’s messed up. Getting someone drunk so less force is needed to make them do something sexual is rape or assault. The boundaries of both you and your date should be respected, even if that boundary is that nothing sexual should happen at all.

If you’re not sure your date is into what’s happening, ask her and take her response seriously. If you’re not into what’s happening, you have every right to say that it should be different or stop. Having sexual relations with someone new that you’re really into should be fun and satisfying for both parties involved.

I know this is different from the narrative of people getting swept away and sex just happening, like a hurricane or an earthquake, and it can be awkward to give voice to your pants feelings or lack thereof. But if you’re dating a feminist, she should understand.

Crystal is a questioner of many things and a writer of essays and fiction. She loves ballet and opera almost as much as football.