Feminism. The buzz word that is as ubiquitous on the internet as a cat is in a bodega. I’ve probably come across hundreds- no- thousands of listcles and videos and articles about feminism. So much so that the word has almost lost its meaning in certain circles. But for better or for worse, it gets people talking. It’s controversial enough to reveal the ugly side of people yet daring enough to embrace those like me. It is a community that is loving, resilient, and sex-positive. And the last bit is what I have a hard time with- even though I shouldn’t.
I have stated openly that my brand of feminism is an amalgamation of traditional nuclear family ideals and radical sex-positivity. It’s liberating and safe and exactly what makes me love feminism to its core. I have the freedom to do what I choose regardless of my gender. Yet dating as this type of feminist woman has particular challenges that I continue to struggle with.
I am not interested in dating men who try to debate the validity of feminism with me. I’ve been in this game for a few too many years to explain to a grown ass man why the sexes should be politically, economically, and socially equal. If I could get “it” my sophomore year of undergrad, then so could anyone. I come from an uber-religious West Indian home where I was taught things like “women shouldn’t whistle” (I whistle) and “women should play hard to get” (the only game I truly enjoy is Taboo). By age fifteen, I was a bible quiz winning, Catholic-school going, “homosexuals are going to hell” zealot. Then one of my best friends told me she was bisexual. And I completely lost it. Everything I knew about the bible came in direct conflict with everything I knew about my friend. And so that revelation- along with years of intense study of other religions (Judaism, Islam, Baha’i, etc) led me to expand my thinking in ways that I was previously afraid of. Now fast forward a decade and then some and here I am- a Christian spiritualist with an affinity for tarot and deep interest in astrology. And a *gulp* sex-positive feminist.
I encourage my friends to embrace the freedom that comes with sex-positivity. I believe that people should engage in sex that is safe, sane, and consensual. I’m just as much of a supporter of a couple who chooses to wait to have sex until marriage as I am of a couple that gets it in right after the first date. But when it comes to MY personal actions- I struggle with operating within the confines of society, my traditional beliefs, and sex-positivity. How can I be conservative and sexual? How do I convey that to men I’m dating? How can I be certain that the men who claim to understand won’t simply relegate me to “hoe” or “frigid” status? Women have yet to escape these harmful “hoe or housewife” binaries and many men are unable or unwilling to catch up.
Yes, I know that I should be able to do or not do whatever the hell I want. I have never been forced or felt pressured to do otherwise. But conversations get murky. Dating is difficult. Men typically throw out the “oh so you’re sex positive?” as to a way to determine just how soon I’m going to put out. In many spaces, feminist = hoe OR lesbian. And so my solution, as of late, has been to simply disengage. I think women are trying so hard to eradicate a system (patriarchy) that we didn’t create in the first place. Can we truly shift the tide?
I’m not sure if we can do it alone but I’m hopeful. After all, I’ve never seen a mouse in a bodega that had a cat in it.