Fucking while feminist presents a peculiar set of challenges for the pro-sex single. How do you talk rape culture on a first date while still managing to get laid once in a while? How do you find the feminist guy who won’t self-flagellate to the point of unfuckability? How do you avoid dying alone, basically? Friedman agreed to talk to me about establishing a feminist fucking litmus test, the art of locating non-douchey sex partners online, and the secret perks of fucking a feminist.
JF: Right now my basic litmus test is this: Is he interested in feminist issues when I bring them up? And can he talk about them in ways that express curiosity and engagement and respect, instead of defensiveness or dismissiveness or attachment to stereotypes? If we can talk about this stuff in ways that are interesting and productive, I can work with it most of the time.
JF:…you know the Bechdel Test for films? It states that any good film has to have two female characters who talk to each other about something other than a guy. Well, this is my test: When I look at personal ads, I look at their lists of favorite books, movies, and music, and they have to list women in all of those categories. They don’t have to have a majority of women, but they have to know that women exist in the culture and be fans of some of them. It’s a pretty low bar—or it should be. I used to look for guys who don’t list Fight Club in their favorites, but I’ve had to relax that rule, because all dudes evidently love Fight Club. I do draw the line at Ayn Rand. It’s more about avoiding red flags than anything else. . . . I also don’t respond to any guy who says they’re looking for a woman who “doesn’t have drama,” not because I have a lot of drama, but because I feel like that is code for women who have opinions.
The interview ends with this:
Do you ever feel like there’s a conflict between your life as a professional feminist and your personal life?
JF: Oftentimes I wonder what the people who know me professionally would think about the compromises I make when I’m dating. I wish this were a live conversation where other feminists were weighing in. I’d like to know what other women are doing. Am I making the right compromises here? Should dating require these sorts of compromises? Is there any tactic that produces better results? . . . I feel very unsure about what the best way is to live my politics and have a sex life. I really feel in the weeds about it. But it’s something I think about all the time, and I don’t feel like I have the answers.
Jill at Feministe responded to the idea of a conversation where other feminists are weighing in, and a great discussion is going on there.
I encourage you to go and join the discussions on either of these two posts, but if you’ve got your own blog why not open the discussion there as well? I’m sure that there are probably other posts out there from the past few years discussing this issue that haven’t crossed my radar for one reason or another – please leave a link in comments if you know of one.
In terms of feminist dating litmus tests, it’s nearly 20 years since I last dated, and perhaps this one isn’t so uncommon now as it was then, but one of my litmus tests was: is he OK about me thinking of something we could go see together, me ringing him up to invite him, and then me organising and paying for the tickets plus paying for the meal beforehand? My experience was that some men found this reversal of stereotypical dating roles confronting. Most were surprised, definitely. My partner of the last nearly 20 years hardly turned a hair (this doesn’t mean that we haven’t had our “why can’t you see this is a problem?” moments at times, but it was a damn good start).