Taking the initiative
The woes of the feminist way
Dating is hard these days for women like me. While nothing short of charming, women at MIT are a different breed of female: We’re stronger, more empowered, and generally smarter than your average girl down the street.
Women have been conditioned by society to act a certain way if they want to find a man, but what if that clashes with who you truly are? Are we supposed to mold our personalities into what men want if we want to date someone? I don’t think so.
I have always cultivated traits that are considered desirable in men. I’m proactive in my pursuits; I know what I want and I get it, I’m not easily intimidated and I speak my mind. My mother never inculcated me with “womanly” values and I took after my father because I wanted to emulate his success.
This doesn’t set me up for traditional courtship where I wait for a guy to ask me out. My father taught me that if I liked a guy, I should just go for it.
I met a guy not long ago who seemed to like me but hadn’t made any moves on me. Rather, he just put it all on me to pursue him: He gave me his phone number and he said he’d like to hang out, but he didn’t ask me out. I asked a friend, “Should I just ask him out?” She looked at me like I was crazy and said that I should not.
“But what if he never asks me out? What if he’s shy or something?”
“Then it’s his loss. If he likes you, he’ll ask you out.” And sadly, this is not the first advice of this sort that I’ve received. If I approach, some women tell me, the guy will think I’m desperate, but waiting for a guy to ask me out puts me in a passive role, which goes against my nature.
Why do I need to play by guys’ rules if I want to stay in the game? What is wrong with a girl asking a guy out in the 21st century?
I recently read an article on the New York Times titled “Keeping Romance Alive in the Age of Female Empowerment.” I’ll save you the pain of reading it and give you the one quote that sums it up nicely: “Men don’t want successful women, men want to be admired. It’s important to them that the woman is full of energy at night and not playing with her BlackBerry in bed.”
In other words, men are intimidated and emasculated by smart, go-getting women, and if our goal is to meet someone who will want to date us, we need to conform to what they want. The title hints at the underlying issue here: It makes the problem about women’s success rather than about some men’s fragile egos. Our partners should be turned on by our ambitiousness, not emasculated by it. Maybe that’s asking for too much.
And the saddest part is that it is totally a double standard. Most of us highly value strong features in men like ambition, confidence, and decisiveness. Yet most of the guys I’ve dated have been deeply intimidated upon seeing those qualities in me. It’s the classical case of the “women are sluts, guys are just players” scenario with a twist: A confident, successful man is sexy; a confident, successful woman is a bitch, and nobody wants to date a bitch. (Plenty want to sleep with us, though.)
When I date, I am extremely conscious of the fact that most guys I go out with will be intimidated by me and turned off as a result. It’s just the harsh reality of my dating life, but I try to approach it with a great sense of humor and unfailing optimism.
It’s easy to doubt myself when guys turn me down, but my friends remind me that I am a great girl and that it’s just a matter of finding someone who likes what I bring to the table. I am certain that I will eventually find a guy who finds my personality refreshing and accepts the challenge, and so should you, ladies!
None of us should have to conform ourselves to an outdated dating model where we wait for a guy to choose us, especially when we can do the choosing. We, empowered women, can and should pursue whatever or whomever we want without regards for silly gender conventions, and if anybody is intimidated by us, I’d say that’s their loss.
On to the next one.
(Oh, I should probably mention that this is my last column ever. Thanks for reading! I will still be available at firstname.lastname@example.org.)