“Well, not as such, but there’s a photo of me in my Corbyn vest, so I think it’s pretty crystal.”
My pal Jen is giving me the lowdown on how to write a Tinder profile. Give enough away, but not too much, seems to be the gist. A savvy one when you consider that whatever information you put on there will be seen by countless strangers.
Bit of background: I’m a single, white, 40-year-old hetero woman, who works mostly from home. Potential boyfriends aren’t knocking on my door. But the advent and now dominance of online dating means that Mr Next could well be in my pocket.
Knowing I could never date a Tory, I made my left-wing principles clear. It seemed the right thing to do. Weed them out before you’re in a pub with some plum espousing why Cameron was actually a decent chap just sadly misunderstood around farm animals.
“Mickey, 40, For the many not the few. Politically speaking, not some kind of Bacchanalian fuckfest”.
Glad we cleared that up.
I’m also a feminist. Fierce, proud, outspoken, I am woman hear me roar. As the editor of feminist magazine Standard Issue, my job revolves around it; I firmly believe gender inequality is rubbish for everyone and feminism is a vital part of the solution. I’ve even got a t-shirt with the word emblazoned across my tits.
I put ‘feminist’ on my online dating profile, right?
No siree bob, I did not.
Because I thought it would make me less attractive to men. Holy manfat, it pains me to admit that, but it’s the truth. Stale stereotypes about the feminist agenda linger in the collective psyche. For some it’s still a word that denotes someone on the ‘no fun’ spectrum between nagging woman and feminazi; it’s associated with man-hating (nope) and bra-burning (no way; those bad boys are pricey. Also, history note: never happened). Those audacious feminists demanding respect, equality and understanding. Yeah, I can see why that would be off-putting.
It’s why Patrio Dating exists (tagline: “You never have to endure another date with a feminist”), and it’s why there’s an upsettingly large number of women who’ll sneer at those seeking equality: “I’m not a feminist, because sometimes you just want to make your man a sandwich.”
Fair enough actually; wanting equal pay and the ability to make decisions about my own body has left me a hot mess with a butter knife.
But I know all this. I’m not so much of a naif that I don’t realise that broken eggs are needed for the omelette of social change. Hand me those eggs, I’ll bring my own hammer. Is … is that sexy, though? Because that’s still important to me.
And it’s hard to reconcile my feminist principles with romance, a game that upholds traditional gender roles. A game that I seemingly can’t help but keep playing. Yeah I’m the editor of a cool feminist magazine but *whisper it* I still want the fairy tale. Social conditioning’s a powerful bastard.
Throughout history, women have been told that a prerequisite for functioning in society is to suppress and warp parts of themselves to fit the dominant image of what a woman should be. If anything this is magnified when it comes to the world of romantic love and/or sex, where women are still seen as a passive prize to be won rather than, y’know, people.
And while I’m proud to be able to shout: “Fuck. This. Shit” at the top of my lady lungs when it comes to sexual harassment and 2017’s women-led clarion call for sea-change makes me beam, I remain worried that men won’t, well, fancy a feminist.
In the current climate of Donald J FuckTrumpet, men’s rights activists, high misogyny, #metoo, #notallmen, prototype sexbots being ‘heavily soiled’ before they even leave the tech convention and women’s rights being sent backwards via sneaky backdoor policies, my current feelings about men are … not great. It’s not that I hate men. Far from it. I like men. Some of my best friends are men.
But that age-old social conditioning has led to entitlement in even the nicest men, meaning they see women as there, and indeed theirs, for the taking – even if the thought of that being true would horrify them. That’s the thing with privilege; we don’t always notice we’ve got it.
I’ve had pals, the loveliest of men with hearts in the right place, tell me they’ve been ‘friendzoned’, because they’ve been taught being nice to a woman means she owes you dickspace. No mate. I’ve been told I don’t know what I want and am undateable, because I just didn’t feel any chemistry. Apparently, wanting someone who makes my bits twitch makes me picky. Nope. I’ve gently said no thanks then been aggressively told I should be so lucky. Because what gives me the right to say no to a man? Women are brought up to say yes. To please.
There are – OF COURSE – exceptions, and there are – OF COURSE – women who are absolute horrors, because being a bag of dicks is not a male prerogative. But the fact remains that the dating game is still mostly won by men.
And so, this is me coming out. It’s time to unlearn these gender roles I’m so stuck in.
Lads, I’m a feminist. If that puts you off, we were never meant to be.
Mickey Noonan is a writer and the editor of Standard Issue Magazine, the online magazine by women for women which takes to the internet airwaves on www.acast.com/standardissuespodcast