Q: I’m casually dating, and the conversations on my most of dates frequently turn to #MeToo. Some dudes say super problematic things like “not all guys are like that” and “men are being attacked.” Explaining why these views are offensive and wrong is exhausting. What should I do? I feel like giving up dating.
FIRST OF ALL, let me begin by using up some of my 500 words to thank you for being my very first question-asker in my very first advice column. Thank you. My hands are uncomfortably clammy and I feel mildly ill, as opinions these days (no matter how tame) always seem to be met with very loud shouts of: “I say we KILL the beast!!!” but liiiiiike…it’s also very important to have said opinions, despite the threat of pitchforks and meanies. So here we go.
DO NOT GIVE UP DATING, PAL! Think about all of the interesting people, and weird family stories, and good (and bad) kisses, and potential trips to the aquarium you’ll miss out on if you do. No giving up. There are fish to be seen.
I do, however, totally understand your frustration with statements from guys like, “men are being attacked.” It’s hard to hear things like that and not have the impulse to break down a wall with your face. Or rest your face in your soup. Or at least face-palm your face. I get it, because I too have face-palmed my face into my soup.
It’s been a real struggle (especially over the past year or so) to react to inflammatory comments with articulate and thoughtful offerings, as opposed to a nice, simple, knee-jerky “Are you F-CKING kiddddiinnnnggg me.” BUT I challenge you (and me, and whoever else might be reading this) to give it a try. Sit down with yourself and a tea or a wine, or some f-ckin’ chips, or whatever you need, and try to latch onto some thoughts you’d feel really proud of yourself for saying next time you’re faced with a “I feel like men are being attacked.”
IMHO (trying IMHO out for the first time, not sure if I like it), a lot of guys who are saying things like this aren’t saying it to incur the wrath of billions of women over thousands of years. They’re saying these things because they’re confused and a little scared. Because they haven’t taken the time to sit down with a tea or a wine or some f-ckin’ chips to figure out exactly what they want to say and exactly how they want to say it. This incredible social shift is a new experience for women AND men, and with new experiences come new thoughts and feelings and emotions, and yes, a lot of the time, some very short-sighted questions.
It should not be up to women to educate men on all things #MeToo. It should be up to everybody to educate themselves. That said, much education comes from discussion. Some of those discussions happen in schools, or in the workplace, or on the internet. And fortunately/unfortunately, some of them happen on a date, when you’d rather be talking about that time your cousin choked on a hotdog at the Westminster Dog Show.
These conversations—#MeToo, not #hotdog—are so, so, so, important, and for the foreseeable future, no matter how frustrating, we have to have them. Hopefully your next (more thoughtful and patient? less annoyed?) conversations will lead to dinner, and then maybe another date. Where you can talk about dog shows, and tropical fish, and your favourite kind of f-ckin’ chips.