Thursday, January 19, 2012

Give us a break

So this morning the Good Men Project had two lovely and highly contradictory articles up. (Actually one of the reasons I love them is precisely because they do that--post all sorts of perspectives at all strengths.) The theme this week seems to be online dating, and the first of the pieces (in the order in which I read them) was this one, about being a man while on a date. The second was this one, about giving men a break because in the dating world, all the onus is on them. (I wonder how I'd have reacted if I'd read them in reverse order?)

Summarizing for those too lazy to read ;), the first one says that when it comes to the first date, be the man, take charge. Pick the location, pay for the date, text her the next day. The second one says that its 2012, men have to ask out, hold the door, propose, bring home the bacon, pay for dinner, etc. Cut them some slack.

I gotta say, I loved the first one. Yes, I can pay for dinner or go Dutch. Yes I am perfectly capable of getting myself home, and if I want to talk to you, I have your number and I can call. But when it comes down to it, even if I'm not evaluating you as future provider, etc, it's nice to let go and have someone take charge once in a while. I think that, in the context of me, and my peers, we've established that women and men are equal. Unfortunately, in the process, we seem to have established that the acceptable way to enact this equality while dating is to be discourteous--don't call, if you do you're needy; if a guy does something kind like offer to carry something, he's being sexist, just cos he's a guy and you're a girl; don't give people advance notice of things, you should keep them on their toes, etc.

The main reason why I'm totally with the first article is very simple: it's a first date, and you're essentially there to get a sense of the person. This does not mean a woman cannot be assertive and take charge. However, if you buy into the whole women are in power in the dating marketplace thing, since they, ultimately, are the ones who decide if anything is going to come of it at the beginning, then they are the ones who have to be given a good sense of who you are, so they can then decide fairly.*

Of course, having gone on god know how many terrible first dates in 2011, and having dated a pathological ditherer who drove me CRAZY with his inability to pick a restaurant, and generally never having been on the receiving end of a date like the one he describes there, I'm not exactly unbiased.

The problem arises when either or both parties thinks that this is or should be the norm. If I received a first date like that, I'd return the favour on the second date. Of course the problem that crops up there is that, whether they admit it or not, the standard desi man does NOT like women who take charge. Once you do, you're bumped. Which brings me to what's unfair about the dating world for women--we have to be equal and step up and take on our share of things, but do it in a delicate unobtrusive way that will not bruise the fragile egos of the men.

Don't date.

*Notice that I'm saying this is in the specific context of dating today where women are supposed to have all the power. Haven't seen much of that vaunted power myself, but still...

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