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September 30, 2013 5:08 PM   Subscribe

Dating tips for feminist men

Bonus: Geek Relationship Fallacies
posted by eviemath (102 comments total) 86 users marked this as a favorite

 
Was expecting sarcasm at the link, but got sincerity. I'm enjoying reading this. Thanks.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 5:14 PM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


[Please make an effort to RTFA, I know it's more challenging than drive-by snark, but it helps make MetaFilter a better place.]
posted by jessamyn at 5:20 PM on September 30, 2013 [32 favorites]


This is good. And for what it's worth, I think a lot of this advice goes equally well in the context of an established relationship.
posted by invitapriore at 5:23 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


16. If you find yourself disregarding something she is saying because she is upset as she is saying it, notice that this is sexism. You may have been raised to believe emotion is not rational and is therefore not legitimate. That is for you to unlearn, not for you to impose on others. Emotion and intuition, when finely honed, serve clear thinking. Don't retreat into logic when you find emotions coming your way. Build up your capacity to feel and to respond to feelings in a rational, intuitive, self-aware way. You'll be more human for it, and a better feminist, too.

This is one that really gets to me. I have been thinking about intuition and emotion a lot lately, and this puts the vague goal I've been trying to set for myself into better terms.

Thanks for posting this eviemath
posted by azarbayejani at 5:28 PM on September 30, 2013 [16 favorites]


This is great advice for anyone! Very nice.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:28 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


Not to be contrarian (but oh well), but it seemed a little long.

Perhaps a short summary, like "hooking up is complicated and fraught with the potential for emotional damage, perhaps monogamy is a better option" might be better?

Or maybe the content could be reworked into little learning units or something with a short test afterward.

Or maybe this is something fathers should be explaining to their sons?

Pretty dense stuff. Changing behaviour is hard.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:39 PM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


This is surprisingly comprehensive, in a good way.
posted by Navelgazer at 5:49 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Curious why the title isn't "tips for feminist men and women".

It's written almost entirely in a gender neutral way. Hell, it's written in a way that's neutral to whether you're straight, queer, cis, trans, etc.

All the good behavior and all the maladaptive behavior described are things that any human can end up doing in a monogamous relationship with any other human. And most of them apply to non-monogamous relationships too.

Criticism:
It's implied that in #11 that to be feminist, you have to be an anti-capitalist. That isn't true. Feminists can be capitalists. Many are.

#16 doesn't need to be gendered. Men get emotional, in particular, we've been socialized to get angry more readily. Displaying anger doesn't mean that the content of what we're saying is invalid, but as long as we're displaying anger and not abuse, we deserve to have what we're saying recognized by a female partner just as much as the other way around.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 5:57 PM on September 30, 2013 [29 favorites]


This is one that really gets to me. I have been thinking about intuition and emotion a lot lately, and this puts the vague goal I've been trying to set for myself into better terms.

On the other hand this is the only one I disagree with. I don't see why That is for you to unlearn, not for you to impose on others. is true. It's saying that one approach is wrong and the other one is right and if you disagree you are sexist. That's not true; they are just different approaches to dealing with upset and anger. Now, one can react with sexism or use sexist language in response to emotion, but that doesn't mean attempting to remain calm and rational is itself sexist.
posted by Justinian at 5:58 PM on September 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


The subtext of this article was "how to be respectful if you're just not that into her after all." Whether or not one identifies as a feminist, socialist, radical, or Marxist, it's good to practice respectful discussion in all relationships. However, hookup culture in general seems to be all about casual sex with people you're just not that into, for fun and convenience. It's a minefield of hurt feelings regardless of how honest, open, and caring you may try to be. And in general, hookup culture and casual sex don't lend themselves to honest, open, caring discussions. It seems like the whole point of hookup culture is that one wouldn't have to "worry" about such things. Those kinds of deep discussions are for real relationships. I wonder what would happen if people started practicing this, though? We might have more relationships and fewer brief hookups.
posted by xenophile at 6:00 PM on September 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Speaking as the guy who used to ask "Are you okay? Are we okay?" ad nauseum, this seems all too familiar, and it's an exhausting reminder of how hard I used to try just to end up alienating people by trying too hard.

I've since learned to just smile and try to make everyone else smile too, and just live life, and try to be a good dude. Too much checking in will ruin anything good before you get into the flow.
posted by gmonkeylouie at 6:01 PM on September 30, 2013 [12 favorites]


Justinian, I didn't read that as saying "you need to unlearn relying on logic yourself" but as, quite clearly, that you need to unlearn dismissing other people's responses because their responses are emotional.
posted by titus n. owl at 6:06 PM on September 30, 2013 [22 favorites]


I guess I'm, unfortunately, used to people dismissing my responses because I'm not being emotional enough. The word "robot" has occasionally been featured.
posted by Justinian at 6:13 PM on September 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


(Full disclosure: I started skimming about halfway down and I am very far removed from the dating world)

I'm not sure what any of that had to do with 'feminism', as I understand the word.

It sounded like the same sort of 'let's discuss every detail, every time' type of discourse I run into at political meeting all the time.

Which, I guess, good on you if you're into that sort of thing, but it sounds like a horrible way to run a relationship.
posted by madajb at 6:16 PM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Good list. I'm terrified that any of this needs to be taught.

I'd add another. Never say "fuck you" in anger during a fight. Ever. I'm a guy who's pretty quiet and generally sensitive to emotion, and I've had a couple women spitting "FUCK YOU!!!" at me during a fight. I had trouble looking at them the same way after. That being said, I try to be really measured and not fighty, I try to abandon emotion and to say things after thinking about them and what they might mean. Then I had an ex tell me, genuinely really angry and upset about it "just because you are saying it more calmly doesn't make you righter or nicer."
posted by nevercalm at 6:21 PM on September 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


This is good advice for everyone, though I see why it's targeted at men. Men are encouraged (in American culture at least) to "suck it up" and ignore feelings for that rational logic mentioned in 16. And as mentioned, men's feelings are manifested as anger, because A) that's the only man card-approved form of emotion (witness sports fandom) and B) a lot of men are taught that feelings are bad, and thus any feeling must be redirected as anger. Vulnerability is seen as weakness, and if a man is to cry or admit feeling weak, he becomes prey for other men (heck, the term "man card" discriminates against men who don't act per the status quo) to belittle, and women to scorn (not as common, but I've seen the effects of a man under pressure from his wife to act like a tough guy and display no softness; it's hell).

If you needed a simple credo, it would be "Men are out of touch with emotions, and that messes up a lot of relationships." I spent some time in counseling to simply get in touch with my emotions because, while my parents were great, I was raised in a world where feelings are "gay", and gay is bad. It's really hard to sit with my feelings when all my life I've fled, yelled, or made a joke to smooth things over, but I feel a lot wiser and calmer having gone through the process of self-examination. I'm not perfect, but I can be multi-dimensional now that I can name and work through emotions.

But I wonder how I can impart these messages, wonderfully distilled in this blog post, to other people and kids. This example is dense, but I think that's necessary to convey such an important message; I'm afraid that turning it into a one-line slogan would oversimplify in the same way an inspirational quote about creativity in a lovely font on Tumblr short-cuts the actual creative process. "Look how sensitive I am for posting this truism" versus "I am not good at sitting with my emotions and that is hurting my relationships with everybody." Simplicity does not suit a complicated, world-spanning ideal of mutual respect.

This article is really important, and I wish that every man (and woman) would read it an internalize that it's good to name and discuss our feelings. However, I'm afraid the average guy would skim this over or dismiss it as "feminism is bad for Man Card". I do not believe that most men oppose women's equality, but I think the term "feminism" is treated with mistrust. Things like the anti-capitalist comment are beyond the audience who needs this the most, and while I understand feminism's contention with capitalism, that's an easy bone to pick.

I'm talking in circles. This is complex, which is good, but I'm afraid too complex for the average person. But if it's too simple, then you do the argument a disservice. There's no easy solution, but this is nothing but good.
posted by Turkey Glue at 6:29 PM on September 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


It's worth noting that "disregarding" or "retreat[ing] into logic" are possible flags that the other person might be engaging in some form of emotional abuse, gaslighting, etc. too. It's worth paying attention when you find yourself doing that.

I'm highly dubious that anyone benefits by replacing actual attempts at actual relationships with workshops, like she suggests in four. Now sexual subcultures often do teach their emotional communication skill more explicitly, especially the ones trying to be "transformative", like say the conscious kink folks. I've friends who apparently went to really extreme forms of sexuality just to learn vanilla dating. Of course, they all found a succession of partners with whom they could learn relationships at those extremes.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:29 PM on September 30, 2013


Yeah, agree this is good dating advice for people of any gender. I do think dudes get more socialization telling them to be dismissive of emotions, but I have many times been the person who just doesn't know what to do with someone's feelings, or the person who is not communicating clearly about my thoughts or intentions.
posted by pocketfullofrye at 6:32 PM on September 30, 2013


It's worth noting that "disregarding" or "retreat[ing] into logic" are possible flags that the other person might be engaging in some form of emotional abuse, gaslighting, etc. too. It's worth paying attention when you find yourself doing that.

I first heard about gaslighting from a Steely Dan song, then probably read more about it here, then found out what it was like from a friend who was being really heavily gaslighted. (Gaslit??) That is some evil shit man, and it's further compounded by the fact that the person doing it will often, after being caught, then engage in second-level gaslighting to try to somehow convince you you're not being gaslit. The whole thing is wicked nasty.
posted by nevercalm at 6:34 PM on September 30, 2013 [7 favorites]


I thought the article was great in a challenging, make you think sort of way. I'm still not totally sure what I think of this:

"It is a very privileged position to be able to retreat to your individualism when you have harmed someone, rather than being in relation with them, and staying present for the change as that relation shifts out of a romantic one to something new and long-term you both are comfortable with."

On the one hand, it validates my own feelings on situations I have experienced. On the other, it doesn't quite go with all of the work I've done recently on trying to become more empathetic towards those who engage in self-care that involves needing to withdraw.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 6:43 PM on September 30, 2013 [4 favorites]


I wish there were some more guidelines for how to handle being the more romantically inclined partner instead of the more casual one. I tend to experience both circumstances equally and I don't think I'm that unusual.

The core message -- i.e. respect consent -- is valuable for both situations; it's what keeps me from sending anonymous banjos to women I've gotten romantically fixated upon after a casual hookup. Nevertheless I would have liked this article to provide a little more insight into the opposite perspective, i.e. how to communicate with a more taciturn or equivocating hookup buddy.
posted by modernserf at 6:43 PM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh man, nevercalm, your eponysterical comment is right on. But I want to say something about all of this and that.

In all of my relationships, I don't think I've ever gotten into a fight where I was insisting on logic over emotion. I tend to operate more within the sphere of emotion anyway, so no real surprise there. I have, however, gotten into trouble (and had at least one, probably more, major relationship break up) as a result of the fact that I don't ramp up in anger with women. I was raised in a household where in disagreements my mom would be the outwardly emotional one (and I feel the qualifier is important to keep in mind there) and my dad the outward rock and their arguments/fights were (are, I guess) never long and always quickly and lovingly resolved and they make it work. And if our parents are the foremost model for our relationships, well, that's one lesson that is more ingrained in me than almost any other.

Now, that's also not at all in my experience as stereotypically gendered as my personal experience growing up. Men absolutely lose control of their tempers as much as women do (and are more prone to violence when they do so, it would seem) so that's not the point I'm trying to make.

Wait, what the hell was the point I was trying to make?

Oh, yes. There is a view about relationships that I see more and more that breaks down to, simply, "fighting is healthy," and I deeply disagree. Arguments, re-adjustments, communication and compromise and sacrifice where it is needed are healthy. Fighting is not (inevitable as it may sometimes be) and the party making a point to be calm and collected is often the party making a point to try to keep things from becoming hurtful.

I guess what I'm saying is that there can be a thin line between expressing and respecting emotions (healthy! necessary!) and following those emotions as license to do and say things in the heat of the moment that you wish to then write off later. Because the latter is how abusive patterns get settled.
posted by Navelgazer at 6:57 PM on September 30, 2013 [11 favorites]


tl;dr = be honest. Honest about what you want, honest about where you're at. Honesty builds trust, and trust is sexy (which is 100% true).
posted by dry white toast at 6:58 PM on September 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


Okay, about halfway through I realized I was compiling a mental list of guys to whose foreheads I would like to staple a copy of this thing. (Fortunately a short list, but still.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:58 PM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


9. Give up on trying to be perfect.

This!! For, like, every ism issue. In every discussion, there's always a handful of people, along varying points of the good---bad faith spectrum, who are like all these things to remember, how do I adhere to so many of them?!?!?!?! You try your fucking best, that's how! And when you mess up, you apologize where appropriate, critically reflect on it, and try to do better next time, not throw your hands up and be like ugh well guyz I guess it's damned if ya do, damned if ya don't amirite.
posted by threeants at 7:10 PM on September 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


I don't love quoting Family Guy, but one of my favorite jokes from their early years was when Peter and Lois were playing the "Civil RIghts" board game with Cleveland and Loretta and we got the following exchange:

Peter: Jeez, does anyone win at this thing?
Cleveland: No, you just do a little better each time.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:19 PM on September 30, 2013 [23 favorites]


Saying 'sorry' only means something if your behaviour changes. On its own it does not remedy the situation. 'sorry' has to come with responsiveness.

I wish I'd had someone get this through to certain feminist men of my romantic acquaintance before I knew them.
posted by immlass at 7:39 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


On the one hand, it validates my own feelings on situations I have experienced. On the other, it doesn't quite go with all of the work I've done recently on trying to become more empathetic towards those who engage in self-care that involves needing to withdraw.

I liked her emphasis on setting an agreed-upon time to come back to the conversation. The one who withdraws can do so, but needs to agree to come back and continue the conversation once they've calmed down and processed, so that "I need space" is not a way of avoiding the topic entirely.
posted by jaguar at 7:41 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Practicing consent, which includes the ability to work with emotions during and after a hookup or a relationship ends, creates more shelters, more places from which our movements can heal, ground, and resist from a place of strength. It calls into question received forms of masculinity that shut down parts of men from the time they are young. It is good solidarity. And it just may open your heart.

This really struck me, and also made me reflect more than I have before about the way the patriarchy affects men for the worse. It's very sad, and I hope that our sons (mine included) grow up in a better world.
posted by annekate at 7:41 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


The one who withdraws can do so, but needs to agree to come back and continue the conversation once they've calmed down and processed, so that "I need space" is not a way of avoiding the topic entirely.

Yeah. A little "I need to walk away for an hour or so. I'll come back calmer and then we can fix this" goes a long way.
posted by nevercalm at 7:44 PM on September 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


The existence of that list bothers me. I think it's because it is fundamentally about treating social movements as a hookup scene, which in general creeps me out.

It's a very anarchist piece, and as a Marxist I found it leaves a bad taste. Not just in point 11 where it goes out and talks about specific ideological points of anarcho-communism, but in the general prevailing idea that it's about building the new society in the shell of the old. I don't agree, and I think that in general this kind of thinking is a way of walling off movements into narrow subcultures.

None of which excuses guys acting like creeps. But I don't think that etiquette for hookups in social movements is the right solution for that.
posted by graymouser at 7:47 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ask her to re-confirm that it's not rape every thirty seconds?

I think if that's what you're getting out of this article you're missing something pretty important. Consent is not just "it isn't rape," at least not the way she's talking about it here. She's talking about our human, romantic, sexual relationships being better for everyone when you're present, emotionally available, open, and honest. It's about the dignity, respect, and trust that should be part of sex always; the fact that we don't expect these things is the product of a pretty fucked up and flawed system that hurts everyone involved.
posted by annekate at 7:53 PM on September 30, 2013 [17 favorites]


Speaking as the guy who used to ask "Are you okay? Are we okay?" ad nauseum, this seems all too familiar, and it's an exhausting reminder of how hard I used to try just to end up alienating people by trying too hard.

Just the other day I got the "chill the fuck out I'd tell you if things weren't okay." But you know what? That's one of those things where you can fuck it up and learn and you're not going to lose much erring on the side of caution before you really get to know each other.
posted by atoxyl at 7:53 PM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I feel like a lot of this could be boiled down into the golden "don't be an asshole" rule that should govern dating across gender, sexuality, and political lines.

I think the framing as "advice for feminist men" just doesn't work; it feels much more like the author is giving us a list of things they would want in ideal relationship (which is totally fair and there's some good advice), and then slapping the label "feminist" onto it because that's an important way in which they self-identify.

In other words, the thought process seems to be "These are the things I would like men to do when dating and I am a feminist, thus this advice must be about feminism". You can see this most clearly in the mixing together of the author's feminism and socialism in her tips for dating, when quite clearly those things do not necessarily always go hand in hand.
posted by modernnomad at 8:04 PM on September 30, 2013 [8 favorites]


Seriously thoughtful and well done, and the prospect of dating anyone ever again is viscerally exhausting and I will stick with cats, I think. Everybody wins.
posted by sandettie light vessel automatic at 8:05 PM on September 30, 2013 [5 favorites]


I didn't realise that only heterosexual men date and that only heterosexual men are feminist. But then this is mefi where I've learned over and over again that everyone on the planet is American.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 8:05 PM on September 30, 2013 [14 favorites]


This is the kind of piece which reinforces the unfortunate idea that the feminist movement is narrow-minded in its ideological purism. Leaving aside the issue that this is written for a particular kind of leftist audience (e.g. the suggestions that individualists and capitalists can't be feminists; the way it veers into talking about the general ethics of belonging to a movement rather than specifically relationships and data) rather than a more general one, what's most objectionable here is that it proposes that trust - and so, sexiness (!) - only legitimately exists in a cisgendered female-male relationship if the male continually assumes as a default position that he is most likely in the wrong in any dispute with the female in the relationship (the piece asks the male to never see if the female can convince him that he is in the wrong - he should just accept her side of the issue at face value; it also suggests that if the male turns to other female friends for advice on a dispute, their opinion is always much less legitimate than the views of the female partner).

I'd suggest that this kind of ideological purity is problematic here for asking both males and females to adopt principles that make them rather *less* human - it suggests that the male should always assume first that he is in the wrong; the female should always assume first that she is in the right (both sides are corrosive to their own human integrity and dignity; this also elides other dimensions of inequity and privilege with its master narrative of gender relations); it calls for both male and female to assume that emotional thinking and tone should not just be treated as valid than logic and reason, but as *more* valid.

The piece tells us that we should give up on trying to be perfect. Good advice. But it assumes that this narrow-minded version of leftist-collectivist-feminist principles it sets out for readers to aspire to is perfect. Feminism and its allied discourses are right and important in connecting the personal to the political (in the societal/structural reform and revolution sense), but its supporters can produce an impoverished and diminishing account of human relationships at the personal level when they facilely and self-righteously conflates the two.
posted by Bwithh at 8:05 PM on September 30, 2013 [21 favorites]


it feels much more like the author is giving us a list of things they would want in ideal relationship (which is totally fair and there's some good advice), and then slapping the label "feminist" onto it because that's an important way in which they self-identify

Bingo. There's a ton of presumed universalism in the list about stuff that is actually highly culturally specific; there's a ton of prescriptiveness about one right way to do things in situations where there are clearly different personal and cultural approaches and styles among different groups of (still reasonably feminist) humans. Hell, a fair bit of it seems quite specifically Canadian to me.
posted by RogerB at 8:08 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


These aren't dating tips, they're contractual obligations. I particularly enjoyed #8, the Arbitration Clause, which prohibits men from seeking outside opinions on their feminist credentials. They are required to submit to arbitration directly with the aggrieved party.
posted by charlie don't surf at 8:09 PM on September 30, 2013 [10 favorites]


Yea, good advice. The feminism angle is confusing/irrelevant. In short: don't be a jerk.
posted by echocollate at 8:09 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


what's most objectionable here is that it proposes that trust - and so, sexiness (!) - only legitimately exists in a cisgendered female-male relationship if the male continually assumes as a default position that he is most likely in the wrong in any dispute with the female in the relationship (the piece asks the male to never see if the female can convince him that he is in the wrong - he should just accept her side of the issue at face value; it also suggests that if the male turns to other female friends for advice on a dispute, their opinion is always much less legitimate than the views of the female partner).

Only if the woman's complaint is regarding the male partner's sexism. She writes (bolding mine), "If you miss something, you don't do the work yourself, and someone has to approach you with a way in which they feel you've been sexist or clueless, don't make them convince you.... Assume there's some truth to what they're saying, and take on the role of helping them articulate it better if it's wordless or fuzzy at first. Honour the gift by listening and asking questions, and taking it upon yourself to educate yourself."

Asking someone to assume that there's some truth in an accusation of sexism, and reacting with curiosity rather than defensiveness, is hardly assuming the male partner is "most likely in the wrong in any dispute with the female [partner]."

And asking someone to assume that your partner's more likely to have all the necessary information about a dispute to have a better sense of what's going on than your friends are is, again, hardly controversial.
posted by jaguar at 8:27 PM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


Good advice on the whole, though perhaps not quite so wedded to the principles of anarcho-syndicalism as its authors might have hoped. One of the things my own capitalist forbearers passed on to me was a desire to try to be decent.
posted by bicyclefish at 8:30 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think "the feminism angle" is there because of the presupposition that the audience is already on board, theoretically, with a relationship between equals. That's not exactly true of all men.
posted by jaguar at 8:30 PM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


I liked a lot of it, but most of the stuff I liked isn't really especially applicable to "feminist men" moreso than anyone else; and a lot of the stuff I liked the least felt like it was being aimed at very specific ex-boyfriends (or ex-hookups) of the author's. As a guy who is very frequently more romantically interested in folks than they are into me, a lot of those aspects just didn't feel really relevant, or felt like things I've wished the women I was dating would do, too.

This one, though:

13. Saying 'sorry' only means something if your behaviour changes. On its own it does not remedy the situation. 'sorry' has to come with responsiveness.

This should be a fucking rule of life, for everyone, all the time, everywhere. Don't apologize for doing something and then keep on doing it. The converse of this rule is also true: Never apologize for behavior that you have no intention of changing. (Which, really, is just a flavor of "To thine own self be true.")
posted by mstokes650 at 8:37 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


i love this. there's definitely a lot i can learn from this myself too.

now i just need them to write another article with dating tips for HOW TO FIND a feminist man.
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 8:38 PM on September 30, 2013


This is exactly what I needed to read today. It's not often that I come away from a blog post thinking that I will now be able to be a better romantic partner and have better romantic relationships. This article helped me work through a bunch of things that I've been thinking about lately, and frame some issues in a way that I think will make me a more effective and harmonious person, and a better partner for any women who I might find myself in a relationship with. Thanks.

I don't see it as a post that's primarily about casual hookups. There's a bit of language about that at the beginning but I think the writer kind of drifted away from that, maybe unconsciously. It reads to me as a guide to anyone who finds themselves in a romantic relationship of any duration, and who is coming into it from a position of privilege but wants to examine and unpack that privilege so as allow themselves to treat their partner better and more honorably.

I also disagree that the author is advocating communication overload or anything like that. Open, loving communication in a romantic context doesn't usually mean a drop-everything-and-let's-talk-about-feelings-for-the-next-two-hours type confrontation. Open and loving communication generally isn't confrontational at all, unless things have already gone a little bit off the rails. Being a good communicator doesn't mean constantly asking "are you OK?" or anything like that. It's a continuous practice, an ongoing process of being open to experiencing your thoughts and emotions, of voicing them to your partner whenever it seems necessary, and of creating a space in which your partner feels safe and encouraged and invited to share his or her own thoughts or emotions. Good communication is something that happens constantly, not something that happens in short, intense, sharply-defined bursts.
posted by Scientist at 8:42 PM on September 30, 2013 [6 favorites]


It's funny that I was reminded of a list written for the Godly teenage boy about how to be "intentional" in your dating . It was being passed around by the uber Christians on my facebook feed. I thought it was a great list, actually (in a take-what-you-like-and-leave-the-rest kind of way, of course).
posted by small_ruminant at 8:58 PM on September 30, 2013


politeness can be violent if it masks normalized oppression

I'm down with most of this article, and have found that age and experience have made most of these principles second nature in my dealings with most people in general, but this phrase I cannot parse.
Is this just techno-speak for don't be fake and patronizing? or is there something deeper here I'm not getting from the phrase.
posted by OHenryPacey at 9:06 PM on September 30, 2013


Criticism:
It's implied that in #11 that to be feminist, you have to be an anti-capitalist. That isn't true. Feminists can be capitalists. Many are.


Yes, but the original intended audience is the readers of a grassroots solidarity media cooperative. The readers are assumed to be socialists because the vast majority of them are.
posted by gingerest at 9:06 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


OHenryPacey, I took "violent politeness," in that context, to mean gaslighting, basically. The paragraph starts with "Don't mix up acting 'nice' with being a genuinely good person" and then talks about how naming oppression is not "nice"; I think the general idea was that a male partner valuing "niceness" over genuine communication from his female partner will tend to shut down conversations about his sexist actions, thus reinforcing the oppressive status quo.
posted by jaguar at 9:34 PM on September 30, 2013 [2 favorites]


"what's most objectionable here is that it proposes that trust - and so, sexiness (!) - only legitimately exists in a cisgendered female-male relationship if the male continually assumes as a default position that he is most likely in the wrong in any dispute with the female in the relationship (the piece asks the male to never see if the female can convince him that he is in the wrong - he should just accept her side of the issue at face value;"

Nah, that's not really in there at all. Read it again. Complaints about capitalism have been noted, and if it's not aimed at you, it's not aimed at you.
posted by klangklangston at 9:53 PM on September 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


A lot of this advice sounds great in theory, but it doesn't quite work in practice. Being fully present, open and empathetic towards another person tends to make them resent that you're all calm and loving while they are furious. They might feel like they look like a bad person in comparison, and this can also go against standard scripts about men and women, that men are bad at relationships and women are good at them.

The other thing is that staying present while someone is tearing you a new one, and just focusing on their feelings and their pain and letting your own desire to get defensive and angry yourself takes MASSIVE emotional resources. It's like running a marathon. Most people don't appreciate that you're enduring a minor form of torture, and tend to think that it's just running off you like water off a duck's back. But it gets absorbed, and turned into physical pain instead of emotion. From the outside you look calm and collected, so it's very easy for the angry person to be totally oblivious to the intense pain they are putting on the other person, and to take it for granted. It's an extraordinary thing, and if someone does that for you, you need to be so fucking grateful to them that they're willing to suffer that much to make you feel good.
posted by AlsoMike at 10:18 PM on September 30, 2013 [16 favorites]


sandettie light vessel automatic,

I and my kitty, Leeloo Dallas Multipass, are right there with you.

Perhaps we should start a club Bowlfillers Nonymous.
posted by 1066 at 10:22 PM on September 30, 2013


"Yea, good advice. The feminism angle is confusing/irrelevant. In short: don't be a jerk."

It's a bit more than that, but I found it very disturbing, or disappointing, that it was about "male feminists" and some women in this thread have responded as if this were accurate. Because pretty much 3/4 of what the author is correcting within the context of gender relations is men relating in the problematic way that they've been conditioned to as part of assuming the conventional gender role. And I don't understand how anyone can be a "male feminist" and not have a pretty deep understanding of the male gender role, its retreat into false objectivity and denial of emotion, and how that dynamic plays out in unequal relationships.

I have a couple of responses to this. First, I've never actually met another man who deliberately self-identifies as a feminist, as I do. I've known many men who will say they have allegiance to feminism if the subject come up, or are known to be in favor of women's rights, or whatever, but even among all the progressive, liberal arts college peers/friends/acquaintances I've known, I'm pretty much the only man I'm aware of that strongly identifies as a feminist. So, that said, I've clearly very little experience with "male feminists". I've just pretty much assumed they were like myself: some combination of academic, activist, and personal experience with feminism that is integrated in one's life. You know, like feminists in general. I guess I understand that this would be a label that people would just self-apply without any real experience or knowledge because they're like, hey, I'm all for this, sounds good. And I can't really complain about that in a cultural context where "feminist" is a term of identity that people have been running away from for a generation. But it strikes me as pretty important for men who self-identify as feminists to know something about feminism.

And that bit at the beginning of the piece really, really, really rubs me the wrong way: "But keep in mind that you'll get kudos just for taking on the term as your own; it may even help you gain trust extra-quickly with women you're dating."

Ugh.

This is the stereotype that many people have of male feminists. That it's opportunistic.

And also, in my experience that bit about trust isn't true at all. I've had conversations with people online where they've attested to this and so I think that I'm willing to believe this in the context of men and women in college, where the women involved might be more naive about these things. But all my experience with (female) feminists is that they're immediately suspicious of a man identifying as feminist. And rightly so, really. If it's really the case that college guys are opportunistically and dishonestly self-identifying this way, then fuck those guys and women are rightly suspicious. But they are rightly suspicious, anyway, really, because it's pretty unusual and has all sorts of difficult connotations and implications. In my case, I started out self-identifying as a feminist thirty years ago, switched to self-identifying as an anti-sexist, feeling that was a more appropriate label for my role, and then switched back to feminist because, in practice, my view and activism is feminism and I had become pretty annoyed at the general social retreat from the label.

Anyway, to repeat, I'm finding this piece very disturbing because basically it's all about men who self-identify as feminists but who lack self-awareness about problems with traditional male gender roles within the context of their sexual relationship with women. And that doesn't compute for me.

Worse, it leaves me thinking ... so this is the advice the self-identified male feminists get? How do other men behave in relationships? Do they club women over the head and drag them to their cave?

This piece comes out of either an alternate reality that is weird and disturbing, or this reality and is deeply disappointing and disturbing. So I guess I'm glad I read it. "Glad" as in "morose" but that it's better that I know how other people are thinking and behaving than not.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:27 PM on September 30, 2013 [3 favorites]


OHenryPacey-- I think that the bits about politeness are largely about how certain societal rules are largely there to enforce the status quo. Men and women are also socialized very differently and the power dynamics in that socialization lend themselves to certain kinds of abuse, including gaslighting.
posted by NoraReed at 11:44 PM on September 30, 2013


Yeah I wasn't a huge fan of this, because I think any set of rules for dating frequently beg the question. Enthusiastic consent is something we should strive for, but we can acheive it in lots of different ways.

I feel like some of the points are very specific to certain kinds of relationships. For instance:

If you find yourself disregarding something she is saying because she is upset as she is saying it, notice that this is sexism. You may have been raised to believe emotion is not rational and is therefore not legitimate. That is for you to unlearn, not for you to impose on others. Emotion and intuition, when finely honed, serve clear thinking. Don't retreat into logic when you find emotions coming your way. Build up your capacity to feel and to respond to feelings in a rational, intuitive, self-aware way. You'll be more human for it, and a better feminist, too

This is a little men is from mars, women is from venus thinking. The idea that women argue one way and men argue another is a bit tired. Its true that, because emotional argument is associated with women it is discounted, which is sexist, but not all women argue primarily emotionally, or men primarily logically. I also somewhat dislike the sentence "Don't retreat into logic when you find emotions coming your way". If someone has a particular style of thinking, it seems a little unfair to penalise them for it.
posted by Cannon Fodder at 12:04 AM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


This feels like something, I as a Aspergers geek with very little relationship experience (and what little I do have being in the from of a long distance relationship, which isn't the same), however on reading it, I find most of it doesn't seem to apply.

It opens with a bunch of stuff warning you about the consequences of sleeping around, and assuming people are taking sex as casually as you are. Um, I don't sleep around. I wouldn't know how even if I wanted to. I wouldn't even know how to find the place to find partners for that (aside from 'A bar'). Beyond that, I'm terrified of sleeping around randomly due to the (Probably overblown in my head) potential consequences (STDs, babies), and well, even if I had a friend that was interested, I'm very very far from sure I could have emotionless sex, and pretending you can when you can't sounds like a recipe for disaster to me. Further more....I'm 25 and have minimal sexual experience. If I took someone random home, they'd wind up disappointed, which isn't fair to them.

Later on is a lot of relationship advice, which mostly seems to be "talk and listen to your partner. Don't assume you are right, check if you are doing something wrong, don't just assume that you are fine." Which is good advice I guess, but knowing I'm Asperger's and have no idea what I'm doing in a relationship usually (Ok, the one time I was in one) leaves me asking the other person if I'm doing things right, if I could be doing better, am I doing anything wrong, anyway, as I KNOW if I don't ask, I WILL miss body/voice/etc language and screw up, so I ask, as I don't want to screw up.

That said, one thing I think everyone needs to realize; Saying "You know what you did wrong" or any variant of it is bullshit. I consider that grounds for me leaving a relationship right there, as no, obviously I don't, and I'm asking as I want to try and make things better. I've seen to many of my friends do this with their SOs, or some variant of it ("I want to see how long it takes him to notice I'm mad" is another variant, as is "He has to learn to notice these things"). Anyway: Less for both sides: If someone fucks up, tell them. If you think you've fucked up, ask. If someone asks give them an honest answer.
Wow, that is long, and I still think I said it in less words then the article.

The one point I disagree with is giving calm speech and emotional speech the same weight: Who hasn't said something they regret when mad/sad? I know if I get mad enough I say things that I don't mean (Not necessarily totally untrue, but more extreme then I would normally go; I fixate on one facet of something instead of balancing things out, if that makes sense.) I wouldn't weight my own ideas when made the same as I do when rational, why should I weight others the same? Now the fact that someone is mad means things have gone wrong, and I should take that seriously, but weight angry speech and calm speech the same? That seems like a bad idea.

So yeah, I probably shouldn't be writing this while super tired, but at the end of that article, and writing all this I'm left with a few thoughts; the first is that if I know that stuff why am I single? There must be other stuff I'm doing wrong (Though the fact I rarely leave my aparment except to go to work, play roleplaying games, and go shopping, and thus rarely meet new people might also have something to do with it....though both are likely true.)
The other thought is "Damn, relationships look really, REALLY frightening. I bet if I got out more and had more friends I could just skip the whole relationship thing, cus, damn, it sounds scary.
posted by Canageek at 12:11 AM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


On posting: Damn that is long, and I didn't edit it or even look at the screen most of the time I was typing. I hope I didn't say anything dumb, but I'm too tired to reread it. Ah well, no one is going to read a comment that long at midnight anyway, right?
posted by Canageek at 12:15 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


Saying "You know what you did wrong" or any variant of it is bullshit. I consider that grounds for me leaving a relationship right there, as no, obviously I don't, and I'm asking as I want to try and make things better.

While this behavior is often used in a way that's game-playing and ill-intentioned, I think some people use the "time to notice" as cool-down time. It sounds more like this is the kind of thing that you need to say upfront that a) you aren't good at dealing with and b) triggers a strong negative social response in you so you make sure that no one does it to you.

Regarding the emotional reaction thing: some things are emotional to talk about and hard to talk about from a cool, collected perspective. You can't ignore the things people say when they're incensed or extremely sad, because sometimes that breaks down barriers and they'll be able to talk about things they wouldn't bring up otherwise, but you have to be prepared to forgive it because sometimes they do feel that things are more important than they are in the moment. (Obviously this has limits and you shouldn't accept "being angry" as an excuse for anyone abusing you ever.) But you also can't expect people to talk about emotional stuff without having an emotional reaction, and a lot of people act dismissive of women who can't hold that kind of thing in. This happens a lot to some women in professional situations, which fucking sucks-- it can be really embarrassing to cry in a situation where you want to be calm/together and not vulnerable, but it can happen in relationships too.
posted by NoraReed at 12:36 AM on October 1, 2013


This is a hell of a curate's egg of an article, and while it contains a lot of sound advice it comes across as off-puttingly preachy and politically skewed. This is exacerbated by the fact that there are some obviously biased assertions and specious opinion-scattering in there, such as:

16. If you find yourself disregarding something she is saying because she is upset as she is saying it, notice that this is sexism.

Not necessarily, at all, actually. Many people, male and female, do this - including women who will dismiss things said in anger - and it often has nothing to do with sexism, just the misguided belief that emotion always clouds judgement, whether it is being displayed by a man or a woman.

Because of such statements the tone of the piece comes across a little too much like personal political agenda-pushing rather than reasoned argument, for my taste. And it takes reasoned argument to persuade me of anything - whether delivered calmly or emotionally.
posted by Decani at 1:10 AM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


The devaluing of emotion and distrust of any conclusion reached while Under The Unfluence of Feels is connected to the fact that emotions are seen as irrational and irrationality/emotionality are societally viewed as feminine. Patriarchy devalues not just women but everything viewed as feminine and this is strongly tied into how women can be dismissed as "hysterical" when they are expressing emotions. That's the sexist connection.
posted by NoraReed at 1:49 AM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


16. If you find yourself disregarding something she is saying because she is upset as she is saying it, notice that this is sexism. You may have been raised to believe emotion is not rational and is therefore not legitimate. That is for you to unlearn, not for you to impose on others.

Unmitigated balderdash. At best, very poorly phrased and wildly condescending. Emotion is valid, yes. But everyone has experienced situations wherein a speaker, be it male or female, has let emotion run away with him or her, leaving reason clouded. "Unlearn" that at your peril. Many situations call for calmness and rationality.
posted by azaner at 2:05 AM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


It's an annoying article. But it's getting at an underlying thing that's real. But it's real in a different way than the author thinks.

For example, anger. It's not really true (though it's presented as true culturally) that men are trained to suppress emotions and be "rational" and "logical" while women are emotive and thought to be "irrational". It's not that simple. What is actually happening is that when men get upset, their anger or sorrow or whatever is seen as motivating what are thought to be essentially rational, deliberative decisions. But when women get upset, their anger or sorrow or whatever is seen as delegitimizing, as irrational and untrustworthy.

In reality, both men and women can be both reasonable or unreasonable while being upset.

Men are no less emotional than women, and while they may suppress the expression of their motivation more than women, even when they don't that emotion is not understood as being delegitimizing. That's the real problem.

So the advice should really be more along the lines of not being so sure that oneself, being male, is reasonable while emotional and one's partner, female, is unreasonable while emotional. Of course, both men and women have a tendency toward delegitimizing concerns expressed as very emotive when they're not their own, so it's good advice to everyone.

But as far as gender relations are concerned, men who have adopted the conventional male gender role should learn that in a relationship dispute, for example, they're not as unemotional and reasonable as they believe they are, while their emotive partner is not as emotive and unreasonable as they believe they are, either. Retreating into the gender roles and the implicit judgments contained within them, which is basically lying about how both partners are understanding the interaction, is a mistake.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:11 AM on October 1, 2013 [18 favorites]


And I don't understand how anyone can be a "male feminist" and not have a pretty deep understanding of the male gender role, its retreat into false objectivity and denial of emotion, and how that dynamic plays out in unequal relationships.

Because it's so easy to play a male feminist on the internet but fecking hard to internalise what you know theoretically, even when you're well intended, much less so if you sort of like the status quo...
posted by MartinWisse at 3:27 AM on October 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'm finding this pretty offensive. Why is it directed towards men, especially feminist men?

I've dated woman who didn't think through emotional outcomes or express themselves honestly. I've been lead on and one-night-standed by women I had genuine feelings for. I've gotten terrible, meaningless "sorries" from women. I've had women insincerely threaten to leave in emotionally fraught situations.

I've done many of these things too. I'm not proud. It's not bad relationship advice to say you should avoid this behaviour. But it's not feminist relationship advice for men.
posted by es_de_bah at 3:49 AM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just because something is advice for feminist men does not mean it's isn't also advice for (non-feminist) OR (non-men). It's not billed as advice exclusively for feminist men. It's just trying to point out common feminist man dating fallacies to feminist men for their benefit. They could also be dating fallacies for other people, even common ones!
posted by Elementary Penguin at 4:12 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


I may just be being sensitive, but it seems to be framed pretty directly by the opening. The implication I got was, oh you selfish, emotionally stunted men.
posted by es_de_bah at 4:27 AM on October 1, 2013


Those of you saying that you don't understand why this is called "feminist" advice when it's basically just good advice for all people -

Well, yeah. A big part of feminism is about advancing the notion that women are people, as opposed to being a whole separate class of human being that deserves different treatment all the time.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:34 AM on October 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


I may just be being sensitive, but it seems to be framed pretty directly by the opening. The implication I got was, oh you selfish, emotionally stunted men.

I guess I don't see that? The opening read to me as saying, "You are consciously very supportive of feminism (and leftist causes generally), but here is a list of some things you might be doing in your dating life that you haven't really thought about, and should reconsider in light of your professed ideological beliefs." It does talk a lot about recognizing your emotions, but I don't see where you get "stunted" or "selfish".
posted by Elementary Penguin at 5:25 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


> If you find yourself disregarding something she is saying because she is upset as she is saying it, notice
> that this is sexism. You may have been raised to believe emotion is not rational and is therefore not
> legitimate. That is for you to unlearn, not for you to impose on others. Emotion and intuition, when finely
> honed, serve clear thinking. Don't retreat into logic when you find emotions coming your way.

It could be true. It could be excellent advice. But it's so condensed and abstract that I'm not really sure what I'm being told.

Sure I'm getting something out of it. I'm getting what I get out of it. But whether that's what the writer meant for me to get out of it, who knows?

Needs about 500 worked examples.
posted by jfuller at 6:13 AM on October 1, 2013


The biggest problem with hookup culture is the problem of relationships in general: when participants see themselves in some sort of adversarial role. There's nothing inherently wrong with sexual exchange outside of the context of a committed relationship, but even here you should like the person and treat them with respect. In cis-gendered heterosexual interchange there is unfortunately a tradition of treating the other gender as if they were some sort of alien creature locked in a zero-sum game. Dude culture, especially, promotes this view of women, and so I don't think the Feminist angle of the original post is unwarranted.
posted by Trace McJoy at 6:27 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


How do other men behave in relationships? Do they club women over the head and drag them to their cave?

not without first establishing a safe word.

Well, yeah. A big part of feminism is about advancing the notion that women are people, as opposed to being a whole separate class of human being that deserves different treatment all the time.

in that case, a more apt, less misleading title would simply have been Dating Tips, or Dating Tips for Human Beings if you wanted to be explicitly inclusive, or, even better, Dating Tips for Men and Women (or, if giving men top billing privileges their gender, Dating Tips for Women and Men).

what good advice is inside is widely applicable to both genders. i see though that the article has an intended audience of men who probably self-identify as feminist, which makes the title less weird than had it been published in, say, Cosmo (how awesome would that be?).
posted by echocollate at 6:41 AM on October 1, 2013


in that case, a more apt, less misleading title would simply have been Dating Tips, or Dating Tips for Human Beings if you wanted to be explicitly inclusive, or, even better, Dating Tips for Men and Women (or, if giving men top billing privileges their gender, Dating Tips for Women and Men).

No, not really, because that ignores the context in and audience for which this blog post was written. Much of the advice here is of course generally applicable, but the audience the author had in mind is indeed that of heterosexual cis men who identify as feminist, within the context of "the" activist movement. For j. random MeFi Reader, this advice therefore will be slightly less useful, though lots of it can be generalised.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:53 AM on October 1, 2013


And I don't understand how anyone can be a "male feminist" and not have a pretty deep understanding of the male gender role, its retreat into false objectivity and denial of emotion, and how that dynamic plays out in unequal relationships.

I was married to such a man, so I believe it happens. In his case, he focused feminist action on rule-bound outrages: for instance, he was strongly pro-choice and he was an advocate of gender-neutral pronouns. In his relationship with me, though, he was paternalistic to the point of collecting my paycheck and giving me an allowance--probably also because of his rule-boundedness. I don't know that this article would have gotten through to him, but it might have made him think.
posted by immlass at 8:04 AM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


In cis-gendered heterosexual interchange there is unfortunately a tradition of treating the other gender as if they were some sort of alien creature locked in a zero-sum game. Dude culture, especially, promotes this view of women, and so I don't think the Feminist angle of the original post is unwarranted.

My experience of dude/bro culture has been that it's less a zero-sum I-win-you-lose-if-we-bang mentality and more of a predator-prey wolves-in-the-sheepfold mentality. The discomfort at any suggestion of that power dynamic being inverted has always been my go-to explanation for the extreme homophobia of the culture, which is only now beginning to dissipate. Slowly.
posted by Ryvar at 8:16 AM on October 1, 2013


Put differently: the dudebros I knew were terrified of teh ghey because - whether or not they stated it explicitly - it meant that they suddenly became "the hunted" instead of "the hunter." There was a distinct note of primordial terror in any related discussion, and I always thought it was a reflection of the subconscious power fantasy inherent in their view of hooking up/dating/whatever...

Basically they weren't as much concerned with "beating" women in the sense of wanting The Other to lose, as they were with the feeling of power that comes with selecting a target and the validation that comes with a successful pursuit.

Which is only marginally less sociopathic/vile, but I think more useful - to the extent any generalization can be - in explaining a bunch of indirectly related attitudes and phobias.
posted by Ryvar at 8:26 AM on October 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


This piece being targeted at feminist men follows from an unstated assumption of the piece, which is that patriarchy, as with other oppressive structures, distorts the thinking of the people who labor under it. That means that people who are privileged by that structure will have certain blind spots, regardless of their attitudes re feminism. So the assumption here is that there's a fairly standard and identifiable set of blind spots that hetero men are more likely to have as a result of being raised in a patriarchal society, which I don't read as insulting.
posted by invitapriore at 8:43 AM on October 1, 2013 [6 favorites]


Put differently: the dudebros I knew were terrified of teh ghey because - whether or not they stated it explicitly - it meant that they suddenly became "the hunted" instead of "the hunter."

I generally hear this stated as "Homophobia is the fear that men will treat you the way you treat women."
posted by NoraReed at 8:48 AM on October 1, 2013 [14 favorites]


16. If you find yourself disregarding something she is saying because she is upset as she is saying it, notice that this is sexism. You may have been raised to believe emotion is not rational and is therefore not legitimate. That is for you to unlearn, not for you to impose on others.

I was raised to value the emotional safety of people with whom I communicate, and part of that requires learning how to describe my feelings without lashing out. One can say "when you do X, I feel angry" without actually acting out the anger. Yelling, name-calling, shaming and jumping straight to accusations are all behaviors that can make communication feel very unsafe. The way point 16 is phrased, it seems to imply that men are just supposed to tolerate verbally and emotionally abusive behavior, and that objecting to it is a kind of sexism.

My SOP any time someone yells at me, be it a friend, co-worker, or lover, is to let them do the first bit of yelling, and then say "Wow, you feel really strongly about this. I'd like to hear what you have to say, but I don't feel safe doing it right this moment. Let's take some time to cool down and then talk about it later." That doesn't mean I don't value emotions, it just means I don't think it's acceptable adult behavior to yell at people when you're angry.
posted by eustacescrubb at 9:29 AM on October 1, 2013 [4 favorites]


Trans* guy here, to chime in that while I thought the advice given in this piece was good, I was also troubled by the essentialism in the targeting of it just to cis straight men. Of course, patriachy structures things so that it's common for women (cis or trans*, straight or lesbian or pansexual) to be both good at processing and expressing emotion, and devalued for that very skill. But there are women who are bad at both and who benefit from patriarchal expectations for that reason. There are men (cis or trans*, straight or queer) who are good at both and get stepped on by people with patriarchal expectations for that reason.

Moreover, there are trans* men who are not feminists. And while all men who identify as feminists have to deal with the charge that they are thereby "unmanned," for trans* men, this is often played out literally, with the demonstration of good emotional relational skills being held up as evidence that we are "really women." So the implicit assumption in this article that only cis men need to struggle with emotional caretaking and consent seems quite off-base to me.

And of course there are LGBQ people who are in relationships that suffer from the dynamic the author raises. And the assumptions about how emotional skills and expressiveness relate to gender center a particular, WASPy pattern of gender norms.

I'd have appreciated a framing that was less essentialist and more intersectional.
posted by DrMew at 9:38 AM on October 1, 2013 [5 favorites]


I sympathize with people who feel that this should should be directed toward everybody and make mention of non-traditional relationships. It is not all-inclusive.

However, it is directed toward cis-gendered, straight men because that is the audience who needs it most. I think it's easy to forget that MetaFilter is a diverse, tolerant bubble with high IQ for gender politics that exist outside the mainstream. However, I doubt that the average dude (or even a man who identifies as feminist) would understand talk of other genders, or would not dismiss the article due to unfamiliar, uncomfortable language. It reminds me of academia; at a certain point, arguments over semantics get so specific as to exist only in its semantic realm.

So, while it remains a heady article with plenty of ideological assumptions, the author has to draw the line somewhere to stay on point. A world-spanning relationship guide would get watery fast.
posted by Turkey Glue at 11:53 AM on October 1, 2013 [1 favorite]


While this behavior is often used in a way that's game-playing and ill-intentioned, I think some people use the "time to notice" as cool-down time. It sounds more like this is the kind of thing that you need to say upfront that a) you aren't good at dealing with and b) triggers a strong negative social response in you so you make sure that no one does it to you.

Good point, I do try and make that clear upfront. Or I have in past, I haven't thought about it in a few years, since I've been single. Saying stuff up front seems like a really important (and obvious) part of relationships.
posted by Canageek at 1:21 PM on October 1, 2013


Aren't behaviors like "yelling, name-calling, shaming and jumping straight to accusations" basically all considered emotional abuse now though, eustacescrubb, at least if the behavior reoccurs? I mentioned gaslighting upthread specifically because 'she' might 'cover' such problematic behavior. It's worth paying attention if you "disregard [someone] because she is upset" or "[find yourself] retreat[ing] into logic" largely because you might be reacting to abuse. Acknowledging the strong feelings and asking to deal with it more cooly sounds positive.
posted by jeffburdges at 1:36 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


"However, it is directed toward cis-gendered, straight men because that is the audience who needs it most."

Sure, I see that. My problem is the debasement of feminist. The majority of what he's talking about is stuff that is absolutely essential to what feminism is all about. If you need to be told any of this, you're a feminist in name only.

What immlass wrote above was pretty interesting and amazing to me — that some men would take on the label "feminist" merely as an affirmation of a specific set of narrow policy and cultural preferences and not understand that those address injustices that are particular manifestations of something that is all around us, playing out every day in how men and women relate to each other and how men and women think of themselves and each other. Feminism, for men, should begin in self-awareness of how they see and relate to women, every day, and to change it for the better. Frankly, for a man, it ain't feminism until you've reached a constant awareness of the ubiquitous inequity in male-female interactions and how those hidden values and assumptions are expressed through institutionalization.

So, for example, if you're a college student, you should be aware of the unequal treatment of men and women in the classroom, both by teachers and by peers, and you should be aware of how this institutionalizes into things like the great gender disparity in computer science programs. If you're an office worker, you will be aware of how men and women are differently managed and promoted, how they're differently treated among their peers. This means that you are self-aware about how you interact with women. That's a requirement.

If you're not thinking about sexism in your daily interactions and relationships, and especially your most intimate relationships if you're a heterosexual male, then you're not doing it right.

So have young third-wave feminists forgotten "the personal is political?" That hardly seems possible.

What I think is more likely is that some up are taking up the label "feminist" without actually taking up feminism. Men and women, both, but I think this is much more troubling in the case of men. I wrote this in my first comment, but there's a particular responsibility in being a man who self-labels as a feminist.

The linked piece bothers me because it implicitly normalizes this. It takes the label "feminist" for granted and then asks men to think about things that they already should have been aware of if they were calling themselves feminists.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:01 PM on October 1, 2013


Even conscientious feminist men deserving of the label might find something like this useful even if they've already been thinking about these things because it might articulate things they already know but can't verbalize. It might also be useful for actual feminist men who are just getting into dating, as opposed to the other way around.

I think you're right about picking up the label for the wrong reasons, though.
posted by NoraReed at 2:29 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are so many women who call themselves "feminist" who don't really get much farther than "Feminism is about choice!" I think there are plenty of well-intentioned men who do more housework than their dads did and know how to iron and expect that their wives will work full-time... until the baby comes, at which point she'll "choose" to stay home, of course, because why should she work if all her money just goes to daycare? And while neither he nor she might describe themselves as "feminist" within the first few adjectives, I think if asked, "Do you agree with feminist principles?", they'd probably both answer "Yes."

Especially with so much mainstream feminism buying into the idea that being a feminist just means choosing your choice (which, not coincidentally, is a great way to market pretty much anything as "feminist" and thus make money for big companies), I can't really fault men for being confused. The only feminist men I've met in person who have taken feminism any further than that were guys I worked with at a rape crisis center, so they'd already self-selected as being interested in helping to solve women's oppression, had taken a forty-hour training course in rape culture and violence prevention, and had worked in the field for years.

I would prefer that more people, rather than fewer, identify as feminist, and I'm fine with big-F Feminism containing a large range of beliefs under its umbrella. I'd love it if everyone who believes that women's equality is worth fighting for did educate themselves on all the various sub-feminisms and forms of oppression and intersectionality and the like, but I think it's unfair to say that everyone must do so before they can call themselves a feminist.
posted by jaguar at 3:50 PM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


I identify as the target audience for the first piece: cis lefty feminist straight male. I'd like to think that I walk the walk and I think I have a track record of past relationships that are above average in following the ethic of "first, do no harm."

The Dating Tips for Feminist Men essay was a hard read with some valuable pieces at the end. I think that the beginning skipped over a lot and asked a lot of impossible things. Intimate relationships are messy. A person can behave perfectly ethically and still cause hurt. We don't have to look at straight sexual relationships to see this. Family is also an intimate relationship with similar conundrums.

The first half of the essay seems, to me, to suffer from the Logic Fallacy. The idea that there is a perfect way to be in a relationship, that perfect communication is possible, that there is never a valid reason to avoid communication in a relationship and that one's own emotions should always be accessible. As we all know and have seen, men in our culture are taught to deeply resist knowing their own emotions and those barriers don't just go away because a man decides that he wants them to. Accessing one's emotions after being raised in an emotionally negligent culture requires butting up against real intimate relationships, trying, failing and making mistakes. The author does point out that making and accepting mistakes is important, but doesn't seem to recognize that merely reading an essay won't get you there. You may actually have to go out and get hurt and risk hurting others before you learn the boundaries and the skills you need in order to be successful in relationships. We are all responsible to not actively, intentionally, or predictably harm others. That is an achievable standard, but there are also types of harm that come about as a consequence of things that Party A might do to Party B but that Party B had responsibility for avoiding.

If Party B has a peanut allergy and Party A brings home a bag of peanuts unknowingly, then responsibility may fall on B, or on A or on both for that mistake depending on the circumstances. What if Party B had never had a peanut reaction before? What if a doctor told B that it was really a jelly and bread allergy? What if A already knew that most people from B's family had a peanut allergy but decided to take a risk anyway? What if "peanuts" are really "grey, intangible emotional areas that vary and flow for imperceptible reasons not only day to day but from moment to moment?"

The idea that some conversations are not achievable probably ruffles some feathers. Here's an extreme example: My ex was suicidal. As such, a fully honest relationship exit interview was neither advisable nor healthy for her. Even years later, since I have no way to know if her recovery has been sufficient to allow such a discussion, the "do no harm" rule leads me to continue to believe that a full disclosure could be triggering for her. And, worse yet, she may not be able to know her own truth about whether such a conversation would be triggering for her.

That is an extreme example and I'm sure someone could flag it as an outlier, but I'm not sure that that's true. In my experience, we don't always know what we want emotionally and sometimes clumsily poking around the edges, with consent and intent to do no harm and an open door to communicate when our partner asks, is the best, most effective way to become better people. Not every relationship needs to be defined and many very productive, very healthy and very mutual relationships would be dead in the water if everyone started from day one with "I want casual sex," versus "I want a relationship that will lead to marriage." Sometimes people stumble, don't know what they want and meet peaceably in the same place after all. Or maybe they stumble, waste some time, but leave amicably as people who know their own needs a little better. And sometimes things get messy and someone gets hurt and I'm not entirely sure that a world where that never happens is possible, but I do appreciate that people more optimistic than myself are hoping to work towards that goal.

The good part of the essay is really at the bottom, though. I am so #$#@ing tired of emotions being conflated with sloppy thinking. I see it in working situations all the time where a member of the public has a legitimate grievance but they don't understand bureaucracy, come on too strong and their case worker automatically goes into "must be a crazy" mode and shuts down the dialogue. I've seen this happen as a third party in real time, I privately advocated for the aggreged party and then I was quickly lumped in with them and quietly shuffled out of the loop by my colleagues despite every intent and assurance on my own part to respect and enforce the decisions that were made.

Also, The idea that, when someone calls you out, that you should go into "active listening" mode instead of "defensive shield" mode can never be restated enough. But sometimes people use call outs intentionally or unintentionally to inflict harm in a roundabout meta kind of way and this is especially possible in intimacy because we know where our intimate partners' buttons are so well that sometimes we can push them without even thinking. I disagree with the author in as much that I think testing difficult conversations with third party people in our lives as sounding boards is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. I agree with the author that that can be done with a grain of salt. We have an obligation to listen to other people's experiences of our actions and to seriously consider their worth and to change our behavior where harm exists, but we do not have an obligation to adjust ourselves for call outs that do not meet the reasonable person standard.
posted by Skwirl at 4:07 PM on October 1, 2013 [3 favorites]


The more I think about this, the more I think the over emphasis on verbal communication is stifling.

There are so many non-verbal cues men and women give each other, and learning to read them and send them is wonderful, fun and important.

The entire idea of asking permission before a first kiss is incredibly awkward to me. There are cues for this. Body language, the way we smile, certain types of eye contact. Trying to negotiate a first kiss verbally seems like a really great way to ruin a moment.

And you know what, for a man to attempt a first kiss and be mistaken is not some sort of hideous assault. As long as we know that the correct response is "oh, I'm sorry, I must have misread the situation. I won't try that again if it's not what you want", we've done nothing wrong if we mistakenly try to kiss a woman.

There's so much emphasis in this piece on talking, all the emphasis on using jargon that's very specific to the radical left. Many of the underlying ideas are important, but the emphasis on leftist jargon and talking: I'm pretty sure that this is because at it's core, radical theory based movements in the english speaking world are based in academia. Academics really like to hear themselves talk.

And the cultishness of the radical left propagates itself in part by getting followers to accept that all of it's jargon and theory are self-evident truths, even though a lot of it is bullshit.

So yeah, the underlying messages about emotional awareness and empathy and openness: good stuff. But there's a reason people above said TLDR a bunch of times too. It's because it actually is too long. And again, totally insufficient emphasis on non-verbal communication.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 5:31 PM on October 1, 2013 [2 favorites]


An example of a not-really-so-feminist man calling himself a feminist.
posted by jaguar at 7:34 PM on October 1, 2013


Another example of a not-really-so-feminist man calling himself a feminist
posted by eviemath at 3:33 AM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are so many non-verbal cues men and women give each other, and learning to read them and send them is wonderful, fun and important.

And this is why relationships are terrifying to me, and get more so as I get older; I can only learn body language I've seen a bunch in person. This is body language other people have built in. The only way to see this is to do it a bunch. As you get older, you are expected to be less awkward and helpless about this. Cue cycle of Canageek getting more and more awkward compared to his non-Asperger's peers as he gets older without getting more relationship experience.
posted by Canageek at 10:50 AM on October 2, 2013


The article wasn't really that much about consent and certainly not about negotiating a kiss. The word kiss isn't even in the essay. I think awkward guys (and I certainly count myself amongst them) obsess way too much about feminist views on consent out of fear. Consent is really easy. Not sure? Ask. Get an ambiguous answer? Ask for a rain check. Still ambiguous? Have the self-dignity to walk away from someone who is not into you.

Asking does not EVER, EVER ruin the mood with someone who is genuinely excited and enthusiastic to be with you. Asking explicitly sometimes lets you jump way ahead of the timeline! As you get older, your partners are way more able to actively participate with good communication and more likely to initiate it themselves. It's easy to get all caught up in what-ifs and fear when you don't get to have a lot of experience, but that fear is hogwash. Just go out and do stuff and verbally advocate for what you want after testing the water with innocent things like shoulder touches and eye contact and joking. Back away if there's no reciprocation. Take no for an answer and take no answer for no as an answer also.

"But, but, but, sex is a rare orchid that only comes across my path once in a blue moon and I'm afraid of missing it." I get it. Being alone is way preferable to being that guy that turns every feminist discussion on the Internet into a self-pity fest. Because that guy ain't finding any orchids either.
posted by Skwirl at 11:12 AM on October 2, 2013 [4 favorites]


Skwirl: I agree on the asking part. Asking is easy. I like asking. That is one part of the above essay I agree with; that communication is important. I was responding to MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch's comment on the first section on the being wrong, since you should be able to read non-verbal communication clues. Those of us who can't read those properly would very much like it if more people followed that section of the essay, as it makes life a lot more straight forward.

Sorry if that came off as a self-pity fest.
posted by Canageek at 12:26 PM on October 2, 2013


That brings me to another problem with the conflict I see between reality and the world; The essay (as well as everything I've been taught) says you ask before doing things. However, I've had multiple female friends (Two or three by this point) tell me that if someone asks to kiss them, hold them, etc, they are going to say no; they want a guy bold enough to make a move without asking.

I now see an conflict, between the idea of consent and real life, that so far I've not seen addressed in an essay, and that sure isn't talked about in the one above.
posted by Canageek at 12:31 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


well then i guess if someone asked those two or three female friends of yours for consent before doing a thing, that someone would strike out then

otoh i also know several people of a variety of genders who, if someone did not ask them for consent and was "bold" and just kinda went for it, they would feel upset and traumatized

when i have a choice between potentially striking out or potentially ruining someone's day i don't find it a difficult decision nor do i personally consider it unreasonable that i should have to compromise in this way

i mean there are always going to be individuals who are outliers and you can't please everyone on any topic, ever, so like i figure it's best to err on the side of not traumatizing anyone either on purpose or accidentally
posted by titus n. owl at 1:00 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


"when i have a choice between potentially striking out or potentially ruining someone's day i don't find it a difficult decision nor do i personally consider it unreasonable that i should have to compromise in this way"

Right. There are quite a few women who feel this way about verbal consent; probably still the majority. It has to do with the way our culture mythologizes sex and romance. So you'll hear lots of people, men and women alike, arguing that claims that verbal consent is important is mood-killing crazy talk.

But, so? I did a little bit of outreach to college men about twenty years ago and my message for them was that this was simply a very critical practical issue. You misread the situation thinking there's "implied" consent when there's not, you can be prosecuted for sexual assault. So you ask. Very simple. And to the degree to which young men understand this simple practical reality, any of the young women who continue to prefer the lack of verbal consent will have to adjust.

And, of course, as you point out, it's the right thing to do anyway because failing to do so risks sexually assaulting someone, which is a Bad Thing, regardless of whether someone gets in legal trouble for it.

I see it in that class of actions that in other specific examples I find many people disagree with me, but in this one they probably won't. Just because someone you're with has a preference for no verbal consent, that doesn't mean that their preference is determinative, because how you behave, and whether you risk hurting someone else, is your moral responsibility. I'm fine with implied consent for people who know each other very well, and assuming the context of their relationship hasn't changed. Otherwise, though, for casual dating with someone you don't have established habits with, you get verbal consent. Both parties — you don't presume. If one of the parties doesn't like that, well, that's their choice but they don't get to exercise that choice with someone who doesn't share it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:09 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, but the idea that I have to ask someone verbally before kissing them for the first time is just ridiculous. There are so many cues.

I have only once in my life mistakenly tried to kiss someone who wasn't interested, and all she did was turn away. And I said, "shit, I'm sorry. I thought you were coming on to me", and she said "yeah, I really like you and that's why we're hanging out right now, but I don't like you that way." And I said "OK. Sorry that was awkward." And all of that was completely fine.

With further sexual contact, it's always generally escalated in a fairly predictable way, with both parties making further moves little by little. And it's not like I date old fashioned women. Quite the opposite. I've been in long term relationships with very serious feminists, I've even dated a feminist sex worker. Not once has anyone ever complained about lack of verbal consent being an issue. Why? 'Cause emotionally intelligent people don't always need verbal consent.

On the other hand, clearly, always, every single time, no means no, no matter what. And you know what? Emotionally intelligent people who use non-verbal communication to escalate intimate contact are also totally capable of hearing "no" and doing exactly the right thing. Stopping immediately and communicating honestly about the situation.
posted by MeanwhileBackAtTheRanch at 6:42 PM on October 2, 2013 [3 favorites]


I like it when guys I'm dating read non-verbal cues. I also like it when guys I'm dating ask explicitly. I can't actually imagine a situation in which I'm into a guy, and his asking explicitly if he can kiss me ruins the moment.

The women for whom asking ruins the moment are women who have internalized the idea that "nice girls don't say yes to sex." Which means that they have to resort to passive-aggressive bullshit to get what they want, and they're likely to be the kind of women who can't admit to being angry, either ("Nice girls never get angry," either), and so they're likely the stereotypical "If you don't know what you did wrong, I'm not going to tell you!" sort of partners that are going to be REALLY BAD PARTNERS for someone with Aspberger's or really, realistically, for any sort of straightforward honest man.

I think it's the initiating partner's responsibility to ask. I think it's the receiving partner's responsibility to answer honestly. If anyone, male or female, is too intimidated to hold up their end of the bargain, they need to figure that out before getting into a relationship.
posted by jaguar at 6:55 PM on October 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


Very glad to hear that is not a universal opinion. The problem with there not being a manual for this type of thing, and only having a few friends to ask is of course, small sample sizes, which introduces all sorts of problems as observed above.

Ivan/jaguar: That is the approach I've taken/plan on taking; ask, and if it kills things, well, probably not the person for me anyway. I'd just figured if the response was heavily in favour of people not liking guys who asked, well, I was going to get told a lot.
posted by Canageek at 8:05 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Not once has anyone ever complained about lack of verbal consent being an issue. Why? 'Cause emotionally intelligent people don't always need verbal consent.

Emotionally intelligent people probably don't need this article either, then. Not everyone is emotionally intelligent, though.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:19 PM on October 2, 2013


Canageek, I don't know how old you are, but I tend to find that the older one gets, the less bullshit/not-really-saying-what-you-mean/etc. one tends to want. The early- to mid-20s seems to be the prime for game-playing.
posted by jaguar at 8:21 PM on October 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Why? 'Cause emotionally intelligent people don't always need verbal consent."

That's literally true, of course, but it's still wrong. That is, even if you don't always need verbal consent, there's still some times you need verbal consent. You described a situation of your own experience. And it's entirely possible that you may not have been as "emotionally intelligent" as you think you have been. The Dunning–Kruger effect applies in this context, too — I've known people who've thought they were good at reading people and social situations who weren't.

Notice that I qualified what I wrote with regard to people in relationships or otherwise know each other well enough to reliably read non-verbal cues. I don't think that couples in long-term relationships, for example, need verbal consent. (But notice that I qualified that, too: if the context of the relationship has recently changed, some of those implicit understandings may need clarification.)

But if you're hooking up with someone or just beginning to date, I pretty much disagree with you strongly. People in those situations, including people who are otherwise much above average at non-verbal communication and general social skills, often experience miscommunication. Explicit consent is important in that context.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 1:46 AM on October 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


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