Tag Archives: relationships

“I won’t date _________ people” = Racist? Yes.

This week for Role/Reboot I wrote about the always controversial subject of racial preferences while dating. It started because a friend (who is Asian) asked if I thought it was racist to not want to date other Asians. So began a long and fascinating conversation about trying to avoid people with similar neuroses, whether those neuroses stem from being Asian, whether “Asian” is too broad a bloc to eliminate (what about South Asians? What about fifth-generation Asians? What about adopted Asians? Will they all have the same neuroses we’re trying to avoid? Probably not…)

My perspective is that you can’t make assumptions about values, beliefs, experiences, or even appearance on race. Consequently, if you say ” I don’t date ______,” the thing you’re objecting to is the census category itself (which is pretty arbitrary…) That, to my mind, is racist. Here are my thoughts in a little more detail:

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The feedback has already been really fascinating, and there is at least one major question I didn’t address in the original piece: what about when people of a minority or marginalized group prefer to date within their group for the purposes of solidarity and preservation of culture and traditions?

I left this out intentionally because I don’t really feel qualified to answer it, having never identified as part of a marginalized group (except for ladies, which is a moot point here). I don’t have a culture or set of traditions that it is important for me to preserve such that my dating choices would be affected. “Whiteness” is not a culture. Jewish and black friends (at least, these are the only two groups that have spoken up), both argued for an asterisk on my argument that recognized that, in the case of marginalized groups, there might be value in trying to preserve a culture or strengthen a community that might otherwise peter out if not sufficiently maintained.

What do you guys think?

Related Post: You guessed it, I’m a privileged white girl!

Related Post: Dating should not be a meal ticket.

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Dating Should Not be a Meal Ticket

Did you hear about that woman in Toronto who bragged about all the free food she was getting by using her womanly wiles to lure lunkheads into paying for her meals? Oh wait, isn’t that kind of dating works?

I’ve written about the age-old question (well… say, early 70s-old) of who should pay for dates before, and my feelings have not changed. Between peers, I really can’t see any reason that men should be expected to pay for dates. Once things get going, yeah, sure, treat each other or take turns or do whatever works for you, but the assumption that the financial burden of your time together is always on him drives me a little insane.

This week, Erin Wotherspoon became a blip on the pop culture screen when her Tumblr Restaurant Tips from a Serial Dater got noticed for her professed desire to eat her way through Toronto’s finest restaurants on the dime of dudes willing to funder culinary adventures because she’s pretty. Here’s my take on transactional dating for Role/Reboot.

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Related Post: Kelly Ripa on who should pay

Related Post: One way that dating inequalities help women

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Filed under Gender, Republished!

Your Ex-Boyfriend is HIV Positive. How Do You Feel?

Oof.

This was a tough one for both structural and emotional reasons. A week ago, an ex of mine from many years ago posted on Facebook that he is HIV positive. His post included a long letter to his peers about knowing your status and living without shame. I reached out to him and he agreed to let me write about this for Role/RebootTo read his whole note, head to YouTube, where he posted a video of himself taking his first dose of the antiretrovirals.

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If you need help find a testing location, head here.

Related Post: So What Do You Do Exactly? HIV Testing Edition.

Related Post: Battlestar Galactica and feminism

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The “Proposal/Counter Proposal” and Other Things I Learned

When I sat down to start writing this Role/Reboot article about what straight people can borrow from their gay friends’ relationships, my roommate asked, “So have you talked to any gay people about this?”

Oh right, I should probably do that…

Turns out, my entire gchat list at 9pm on Tuesday happened to be gay friends, and they were more than willing to share. For one thing, they gave me some great quotes for my essay and some really interesting perspectives on equality, fairness, and making up your own relationship rules. More importantly, I learned about the magic of the proposal/counter-proposal, also known as the “propose, propose-back”. Wondering what I’m talking about?

Read the essay!

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Related Post: Thoughts on Senator Rob Portman’s change of heart

Related Post: Six sides of identity, notes from Chicago Ideas Week

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Couple or Bust?

This was a tough one to write. I knew I wanted to talk about the idea of “the primacy of the couple” and different kinds of love.  I knew I wanted to include some of Eric Klinenberg’s Going Solo research about the demographic trend towards solitary living. Fun fact, single-occupant homes are the most common domestic unit in America. Here’s another: the average American spends more than half their adult life unpartnered. There’s a lot more. Read the book.

Also, read my essay for Role/Reboot (title, as usual, not selected by me):

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Related Post: How to make a bro friend.

Related Post: The break-up museum.

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I Think I’m Doing OkCupid Wrong

This week for Role/Reboot, I did a little internal investigation on how I behave on online dating sites. We already know how I feel about gendered traditions once we’re actually on the date (i.e. Who pays?), but what about the sending of and responding to messages? Why do I sit back and wait? Is the answer really because it’s just so freaking easy? That seems like laziness to me, and no one should rest on their laurels when it comes to equalizing the playing field, least of all ladies who write about gender and equality on the internet…

onlinedatingRelated Post: Comparing dating to church.

Related Post: Guest post: the dangers of dating while freelancing

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Fox News’ Big Whoops + Suzanne Venker’s Latest

If this doesn’t make your Saturday, I don’t know what will. In the latest insufferable piece by Suzanne Venker (more on that in a moment), Fox News accidentally selected a photo of a same-sex couple to illustrate an article about the value in traditional gender roles. They’ve since changed the photo to, literally, the boy/girl stick figures that adorn bathroom doors (if that’s all you’ve got left, I think it means we’re winning), but luckily Jessica Valenti nabbed a screen shot before they figured out their awesome error.

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From Jessica Valenti

Whoops!

The article this excellent photo used to sit atop is classic Venker. If you’re not familiar with her work, imagine all of the least logical things you’ve ever heard anyone say about gender roles, all the worst mischaracterizations of feminsim past and present, all of the broadest stereotypes about men and women, and give that lumpy ball of icky ideas a pulpit.

Her piece is called, “To be happy, we must admit women and men aren’t ‘equal.'” A few key ideas, though please, by all means, read the whole gd mess.

The complementary nature of marriage—in which two people work together, as equals, toward the same goal but with an appreciation for the qualities each gender brings to the table—has been obliterated. Today, husbands and wives are locked in a battle about whom does more on the home front and how they’re going to get everything done. That’s not a marriage. That’s war.

Feminism didn’t result in equality between the sexes – it resulted in mass confusion. Today, men and women have no idea who’s supposed to do what.

Prior to the 1970s, people viewed gender roles as as equally valuable. Many would argue women had the better end of the deal! It’s hard to claim women were oppressed in a nation in which men were expected to stand up when a lady enters the room or to lay down their lives to spare women life

That’s enough of that, I think.

A few notes in response:

  • Replace “Gender” with “Person” and You Have My Attention: She writes about appreciating each gender for what they bring to the partnership table. If we swap that out for “person,” you might get me on board. I’m not saying there are not statistical differences in skill sets and preferences between genders, but I’m arguing that the variation between Man 1 and Man 2 is probably just as great as between Man 1 and Woman 1. In other words, bucketing ourselves by gender in order to make a partnership work is pretty likely to fail. So she wants to stay home with kids, great! But what if he’s the one who cooks? Oh no! How will we ever bring our best gendered selves to this marriage! Instead, bucket yourselves by, oh I don’t know, what you’re good at, what you prefer, what your logistical and emotional bandwidth can bear, what you compromise on, etc. All of that requires more communication than assuming she of the ovaries will be the nurturer and he of the big muscles will be the provider.
  • Protectionism and Pedastalism Are Not Equality. We’ve talked about this before, but it’s worth remembering. If your primary argument is that ladies were treated more delicately back in the day, and that more of them survived the sinking Titanic (yes, this is actually in her essay), don’t you think that’s pretty weak? I do not want men to stand for me when I enter a room. I want them to listen to me when I talk. I want to be part of the conversation. I want to be an equal player in decision-making. They can keep sitting, that’s just fine. As for holding doors open, I have no strong feelings about who should enter buildings first, all I know is that if I’m carrying something heavy, help me out, you know?
  • Mass Confusion Isn’t the Worst Thing – I will give Venker this; I think there is a lot of confusion out there about what it means to be “manly” or “womanly” in this day and age. I write about gender on the internet and much of the feedback I get is about “not knowing the rules.” Should a guy pay for a date? Should a girl let him? If she offers to split should he accept? How do you flirt with objectifying? Is a little objectifying okay, especially if we all do it? This shit is confusing! And it should be! The change I want to see is for the conversation to reorient from how do I treat this person because they have XX or XY chromosomes to how do I treat this person like a human, i.e. with respect for their agency, their preferences, and their stated desires.
  • Every Partnership Isn’t Going to Look the Same - And this is also a good thing. In most of her writing, Venker consistently ignores non-hetero couples. It kind of makes sense; if you’re whole money-making MO is to be the voice of reason on traditional gender roles, you kind of have to cross your fingers and hope no one asks you about all those other couples that don’t have the parts that help you know what they’re “supposed” to do. But by ignoring same-sex couples (or any other non-Cleaver family arrangement), Venker is taking the rhetorical easy way out. Plenty of people have to negotiate the “mass confusion” she speaks of because there are no existing structures for who should do the laundry and who should pay the bill. These people have figured out ways around this horror show of a rules- free existence, and I think we heteros can take some lessons.

Okay, so I’m done with that. She gets me a little riled up, you know? Can we go back to making fun of Fox?

Related Post: Things that are not the opposite of misogyny

Related Post: Can we get some historical context please?

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