By Jodie Shupac
Say what you will about the complications often wrought by casual sex. But when a self-named male feminist freaks at the first sign of emotion from the woman he’s fucking, or once fucked, he’s driving a wedge between his politics and his personal life.
In the same vein, when a woman who sleeps with men berates herself, or another woman, for “scaring men off” by revealing her post-coital feelings—should she have any—she’s espousing society’s deeply-ingrained patriarchal notion that emotion is shameful, weak—a veritable “man-repellant.”
Sure, the 1950s have come and gone, and sexual politics have progressed to the point where there’s nothing especially remarkable about a man calling himself a feminist. Yet how many times have I heard (and participated in) my female friends—all of whom identify as empowered feminist women—instructing each other to tiptoe around a precious male specimen they’ve recently had some kind of sexual encounter with?
I’m being totally crazy.
I’m/You’re overthinking this.
Whatever you do, don’t call him.
You told him you liked him after one night together? Are you insane?
What is there to talk about with him? I mean, you guys only made out the once!
These refrains, and others like them, are waaaay too often batted around the heterosexual female water cooler, not to mention inside the self-disgusted cisfemale brain.
Honestly, why not just round up all the available straight men, throw ‘em in a pen and tack a “DON’T SCARE THE MEN WITH YOUR RIDICULOUS FEELINGS” poster outside of it?
I mean, who, in good faith, are we calling feminists amid this culture of fear and feelings-shaming?
DATING TIPS FOR THE FEMINIST MAN
Montreal blogger Nora Samaran recently addressed this topic in a blog post entitled “dating tips for the feminist man” on the independent Canadian news platform The Media Co-op.
In it, she urges men—that is, “straight monogamous cismale[s] who identify as leftie[s]”—to ensure their sex lives are in step with their politics:
“You respect women. You would never act like a player. You fall in love with strong, smart feminist women. You believe that our movements are stronger if they include everyone. This is not the 1950s; if you’re committed to social justice but you are still marching along using ‘the rules’ to govern dating, it’s time to consider the connection between your politics and your personal life.”
Samaran emphasizes that sex brings up emotion; avoiding someone else’s, or your own, failing to articulate your intentions (even if it’s just to say ‘I don’t know yet what I want out of this’) or to check whether the other person is okay before, during and after the hookup, means you’re not so much ready for the sex.
Furthermore, telling someone you’re serious about her, or acting like it, then avoiding her the second you’ve slunk from her bed DOES NOT YOU A FEMINIST MAKE. Or whatever, you’re a Feminist who needs to check yourself.
Of course, not all cisfemales get emotional, or attached, after sex, and not all cismales are unemotional and detached about it.
But the idea of a woman having a whole lotta feelings is a trope that’s fairly culturally persistent, and perhaps for good reason; Daniel Goleman, PhD, psychologist and author of The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights (2011) writes in Psychology Today magazine that women tend to surpass men where emotional empathy is concerned.
He points to evidence that, generally, women more easily pick up on the emotions of others and are willing to sit with those feelings, be them disturbing or not, rather than the stereotypical male response to emotion, which is to avoid the discomfort of negative feeling and flip into hyper-rational problem-solving mode.
So, arguably, it’s not that women have “too many feelings” and men are emotionless robots, but that the former is often more engaged with—and more willing to address—what’s going on beneath the surface of social interactions. And generally speaking, a lot tends to go on beneath the surface after you’ve gotten beneath the sheets with someone.
All in all, fleeing from, or worse, shaming, a woman—or yourself, or a person of any gender—for wishing to process her feelings after an ostensibly casual hookup or relationship is a shitty, misogynistic move, yet one that otherwise progressive folks across the gender spectrum continually engage in.
So what say we all quit it, hmm?