html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: In the House and in the Senate.

Monday, July 17, 2006

In the House and in the Senate.

My parents divorced my first year of college. It was and remains a loving, generous divorce. I have had exactly one conversation with my father about the divorce. We were standing in the checkout line at the grocery store, when Daddy, looking into the distance, said “You’ll notice that when your mother decided to leave, she had the financial wherewithal to do so.” Then we both cried and said that we loved each other so much and he never wanted to go on business trips when I was little and I’ve only ever wanted to make him proud.

From the Archives has been a repeated exercise in realizing how homogenous my community is and how sheltered my life has been. It hadn’t occurred to me that men would hesitate over the word ‘feminist’ in a personal ad. My default assumption is that every man and woman I know calls him or herself a feminist. I can imagine talking about whether s/he has come to prefer the term ‘humanist’, but I have never been in a conversation where feminists were belittled. Really. My father, my friends from college, my co-workers, my friends from Ultimate… I can’t imagine any of them even pausing over the word feminist in a personal ad. If it weren’t there, they would assume that it didn’t need to be said.

I won’t be pulling the term feminist from any future personal ads. I didn’t think I needed to filter for that, but I am perfectly happy with never meeting men who don’t want to date feminist women*. In this I like my sheltered world.

* I would understand an aversion learned from dating dogmatic, newly-awakened feminist undergrads. Sorry, Mike. Sorry ‘bout that.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, when I was 6, my parents got divorced. My father (who had my custody) remarried when I was 13. Although the in-between years were difficult, the 'remarriage' years have been so pleasant that it's replaced most of the painful memories.

I am glad that my parents didn't divorce when I was older. My sympathies -- not that you were asking for them or needed them. -K.

12:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I like the idea of a feminist, in as far as she's confident, independent, and strong.

The thing I've seen with self described feminists in reality though is they tend to be selective about when they choose to apply those traits.

They consider themselves above being a house wife/stay at home mom. Ok, fine, so she'll work, but then they're not so keen on splitting the bills, and paying their share either.

Or, she'll tell me she's capable of doing anything I can, until it's time to pack the backpacks for the camping trip, then, I'm the man and I'm going to carry 80% of the load.

I'm not saying they're all like that. But, it would certainly set off warning bells for me. The women who like to brag about being feminists tend to be kind of obnoxious, and like I said, very selective about when they're going to apply their beliefs on equality.

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

* I would understand an aversion learned from dating dogmatic, newly-awakened feminist undergrads. Sorry, Mike. Sorry ‘bout that.

Where you referring to me?

3:19 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Don't you remember our year and a half together?

3:28 PM  
Anonymous Underwear Ninja said...

Anonymous #2: Are you assuming all feminists are female?

I wouldn't expect any woman to be able to do all the things I can, nor do I expect myself to be able to do all the things a woman can. I do expect everyone to have the same shot at doing a "thing" even if some people do it better than others based on their DNA, I wouldn't expect anything more or less from a human I wanted to spend time with.

So, yeah, keep feminist in there, you don't want to hang out with someone who doesn't know better anyway.

3:41 PM  
Anonymous UnderwearNinja said...

PS: My feminism does not put me above making really tasteless jokes about kitchen work, respect and obey in wedding vows, or getting my beer.

3:44 PM  
Anonymous Mike said...

I'm not sure I'm the Mike you think I am... I'm quite sure a year-and-a-half wouldn't slip my mind, especially not with you. Alas, I'm only one of the imaginaries.
I've only been reading your blog since the first part of April.

Haha I do, however, have quite interesting stories of intersecting with dogmatic, newly-awakened feminists at the University of Iowa.

4:59 PM  
Anonymous NuclearPoet said...

Me man. Urgggg uggghhhh...

*flapping through English-to-faux-Cro-Magnon dictionary*

Hmmm, there isn't a Cro-Magnon equivalent to "feminist"....

Seriously, your comment makes me realize that I never really developed, or came in contact with, people who saw negative connotations to the word "feminist" (or perhaps I take it for granted so much that it doesn't come up into conversation much). The two women in my family are both definitely feminists, but neither one has sacrificed their, well, femininity. I'm not sure if that makes sense, but I suspect that it makes perfect sense to people who already know what I mean. I don't know if my mother would define herself strongly as a feminist, but my sister certainly would.

Honestly, feminists in that way do appeal to me. I can see how some men might be turned off by feminists who aren't, well, feminine... but these same men are also probably more likely to subscribe strongly to gender-defined roles, and also to generalization of stereotypes... ;-) Personally, if someone is essentially a "career feminist", then I probably wouldn't be as attracted to that person-- I'm not too interested in single-cause zealots, though they certainly are needed in our society. But I don't conflate that kind of personality with the general term of "feminist". I always do reserve the right to mock the stereotypes in jest's name (or, if one wanted to find some sort of Freudian psychoanalytic explanation, perhaps I like to get slapped by women as part of my (fill in the blank) complex)...


7:26 PM  
Blogger Macneil said...

I do hope you've read this Doonesbury. (I hope the link works, it was last Sunday's.)

8:39 PM  
Blogger Chris Lawrence said...

My perception is that while there are a lot of people (male and female) who agree with feminism, broadly defined, those who would go out of their way to classify themselves as feminists are just a little too inclined to engage in bra-burning and to boycott armpit-shaving for your typical, red-blooded heterosexual male surfing the Craigslist personals.

Another analogy: my suspicion is that most people in the personals ads enjoy receiving oral sex. The heuristic I'd use is that the ones that point it out probably want it 18 hours a day.

9:54 PM  
Blogger Continental Drifts said...


I agree with you. I've never wanted to date a girl who WASN"T a feminist.

8:23 AM  
Blogger jto said...

I am perfectly happy with never meeting men who don't want to date feminist women.

But in this sentence you're using the word "feminist" to mean something very different from what it means in your ad.

Personal ads are not normal English. There's a huge difference between "is a feminist" and "chooses, as one of the 25 most relevant words in the universe, to introduce herself to strangers as a feminist". The former is plenty ambiguous for my tastes anyway; the latter is downright hairy. It might meen "I am likely to find you insufficiently feminist, and the date will be wasted". (I like to think I'd pass muster, but honestly who needs to be judged that way?) It might mean "I spend a lot of my free time talking about sexism". Or it could mean "I think men and women are equals and should be treated as such". But that would seem the least likely thing to me, reading an ad cold. The most likely meaning is "If you vote Republican, don't waste my time."

What would you think of a "Creative, pro-gun postdoc seeking intelligent SF economist for kayaking, used bookstore browsing, marathon lovemaking, thrill of mutual discovery"? ...But it gives you pause, right? Just sayin'.

12:15 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

You're right. I would totally hesitate over 'postdoc'.

2:02 PM  

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