I was expecting to do a fun-filled humour post this week after the recent feminist overload (I blame it on the fact that my friend said to me the other day: “No Jess. I just don’t think you’re a strident feminist” and ever since I’ve spent my spare time gathering all the ashes of the men I’ve burnt into bell jars to present to Queen Plath when I next visit her grave). So, today we’re feministing again or should I say, shedding the feminist light onto an issue that’s taken a backseat recently: dating.
It wasn’t until a few weeks ago, when I found myself trying to get out of a first date situation, that I realised you rarely see women in films turning down men. Now I don’t just mean rejecting the homeless man with halitosis that approaches the Jennifer-Aniston-level-of-hot main character, in the empty country pub she ends up in after her car’s coincidentally broken down outside, and offers to be the plus one to her sister’s wedding. We all know that fictional characters are shallow enough to turn down someone that hasn’t washed for four years, but what about the normal, nice guy that they’ve slept with by the time the credits are rolling. Why do they never turn down people- not because there’s anything aesthetically or physically wrong with them but- because they just don’t want to be with them? Apart from the secondary character whose name no one can really remember, no one in films ends up single.
Because they’re surrounded by this image, I think people, especially girls, forget that saying no is actually an option and it doesn’t make you impolite. We think it’s mean to turn down an ice skating trip with Jimmy because he offers to sharpen your pencil every week in graphic design (not a euphemism) and has a Britney Spears song on his iPod- many would rather put themselves through the agony of an unwanted 2 hour date than be the bitch that turned down Jimmy from graphics.
Where does this guilt come from? Well, women throughout history have always been seen as possessions of men, which influences the way girls grow up today, constantly told to impress/appeal to boys- a popular game at my primary school, was kiss chase, where the girls would run away from the boys who would pin you to the floor and force their gross bumfluffy faces onto you. I laddered many pairs of tights from being thrown on the concrete but HEY look at all the attention you’re getting! ‘She’s a rather popular girl,’ your teacher would say and you’d think, at a mere 8 years old, yep I am desired. Boys want me and therefore I can take on the world! So much for spending the rest of my life eating cold microwave meals, watching reruns of Kim Possible and having to buy a single ticket every time I go to the cinema- no, I’m going to live happily ever after with whichever boy can get it line first.
I look back on little me and want to shake her. Where is the self love? Where is the ‘erm no I think you’ll find these lips are made for walking so jog on lads because unless you’ve got heelys on you’ll never keep up’ attitude? In the absence of this confidence you’ll end up settling for someone with the personality of the potato because you don’t think you’re worth anything more. It’s rare to see women living alone in the media *dedicates a moment of silence to HRH Miranda Hart* and therefore the idea of actually being single seems to be quite alien to people. But you are allowed to be too good for someone. And more importantly, you are allowed to admit this to yourself. If you see their profile picture, think they look like a real life McVitie’s biscuit and have a middle name with too many vowels in, then anyone that blames you for walking away clearly doesn’t know how much you’re worth. Girl power for the win. Scrap that: self-power is better.
Although this article is rather female focused, I’m sure men face the same issue, in the way that women are expected to be polite, men are almost forced to say yes to any offers so that they can add to their fangita tally and defend their hypermasculinity. In some cases it could even be worse for them because when they do turn a girl down you’re going to get stick from the lads as well as an earache from her angry friendship group blaming you for the fact she’s listened to Jar of Hearts by Christina Perri nonstop for eight days. It makes you wonder when relationships got so complicated, and we’re talking about relationships that haven’t even started yet. What happened to a good old dance mat marathon with no commitment?
I guess if you’re really struggling to get rid of a lurking invite out, you can always play the ‘are you a feminist?’ card and then when they say no, run. (Obviously, in the opposite direction, I’m not going to let you give it up to someone that thinks the fact women can’t vote in Saudi Arabia is okay.) After all, who needs dates when you’ve got my blog.