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3 Ways My Mom Helped Me Date Like a Feminist
In honor of Mother's Day, I would like to thank my mom for many, many things. Thanks, Mom, for teaching me how to drop the real F-bomb: feminism. My mom might be the reason why I do a lot of things, but she's also the reason why I don't do a lot of things.
In other words, my mother taught me how to never take anyone else’s crap for the sake of love.
My mom started teaching me how to date like a feminist as soon as she noticed me beginning to develop genuine romantic/sexual interests. My mom was smart enough to understand that the messages we internalize about dating and sexuality far before we conscientiously pursue related desires. I sympathized with my friends whose mothers pressured them to do things like blindly obey their partners, appease The Male Gaze, and tone themselves down to appear more attractive. However, I did not relate to them because my mother made sure I learned to stay away from anyone who expected me to do any of those things. Period.
I have my mother to thank for many of the feminist relationship values I advocate for today such as the following:
1.) My lovers don't "allow" me to do anything.
“Remember, he’s your boyfriend, not your dad.”
Most other women I know heard those words from self-help literature. I first heard it from my mother.
My mom was keenly aware of the fact that people treat their lovers like property, especially if their lover is a woman. While other girls were swallowing their pride in the face of bossy and sexist partners, I was happily projectile-vomiting my romantic and sexual autonomy all the place. Through open discussion and daytime talk shows, my mom reminded me that possessiveness and jealousy are red flags and not at all as "romantic" as people/the media make them out to be.
My mom always told me to never, ever even consider dating people who had a problem with my friends' genders. Like my mother, I’ve always had a ton of guyfriends. I laugh hysterically when I see girls with lots of guyfriends pinged on Internet lists of “Women To Never Date” because it implies that girls like me would even be interested in dating someone so insecure. I’d rather be in a mosh pit with my buddies than eating a candlelit dinner with a possessive person who feels entitled to impose their sexist insecurities upon my loved ones.
My guyfriends know my dates are cool because they also know I would’ve dumped a guy like that before they had the chance to meet them. I’ve seen other people put up with spouses who text them, demanding to know where they are and flipping out once they hear about their mixed gender company. I simply don't have the time, energy, or interest to put up with someone like that.
2.) My mom taught me how to transcend sexist dating norms.
My mom made it clear that she wanted me to go to college and have a job. She not only explained to me how women get paid less than men for the same work, but the importance of having my own career and not relying on a spouse for financial support.
My mom is the reason why I hold open door for people of all genders and never assume that my dates are going to pay for me. When my mom noticed I was spending time with a lot of guys, she asked if I had been offering to pay my way through our hangouts.
To this day, I always tell my dates if I don’t have enough money for myself. Why? Because I’m not entitled to anyone’s money, so assuming someone’s going to pay for me is out of the question, especially if my assumption is based on their gender. I often take guys out to eat and pay for the whole meal, just like I would do for any other loved one.
When guys say they don’t want to date a feminist, this is what they’re missing out on!
My mom isn’t the reason why I never lost count of how many people I’ve slept with. She’s the reason why I was never counting my sexual interactions to begin with. My mom taught me that if I’m going to have sex, I am going to do it on my own terms. She taught me that slut-shaming was a hallmark behavior of someone who fell for sexist lies. She also taught me that any lover who touches you against your consent isn’t a lover at all, but a molestor, rapist, or something else terrible I want nothing to do with.
My mom is the reason why I shave for myself, not anyone else. While growing up, I thought my mom was just finicky about the idea of her daughters shaving and used feminism/hair positivity to rationalize her weirdness. But when she was scoffing at shaving to please men in passing years, I knew she actually meant that my desire to shave was rooted in sexist beauty ideals. When I attended my liberal college, my friends were amazed that my mother encouraged me to pass up shaving my body while their mothers practically demanded they shave their armpits and legs. I can thank my mom for the curly garden flourishing from my armpits and lower-body when I feel no particular desire to shave.
3.) My mother taught me that I must never rely on someone else to complete me.
My mother made sure I knew my body and my identity belong to me, not anyone else.
I’ve never dated someone for the sake of filling in a blank. I also never considered dating someone who felt intimidated by my intelligence while other girls I know routinely worry about appearing "too smart" to guys they like.
My mom taught me that I could only find so much happiness in another person. For true fulfillment, I had to be true to myself and my desires, not someone else's. It's one thing to be infatuated. It's another thing to have a limited existence outside of your love life.
My mom is the reason why I never bothered dating people who had a problem with me wearing black lipstick. She’s also the reason why I never considered getting into certain bands or hobbies to impress my crushes. I was shocked and disheartened when girls confided in me that they only listened to certain bands to impress the boys they liked.
Furthermore, she taught me that being my own individual is healthier for a relationship than enmeshment will ever be. By being my own person, I am able to bring the very best of myself into the relationship and my lover will be able to do the same.
To think that these are only a few of the positive values my mother blessed me with. As I get older, I realize how fortunate I am to have my feminist mother and my gratitude only increases with each passing day.
Happy Mother's Day!
#Real #HappyMothersDay #Feminism #Dating #Love #InheritingBrilliance #ThankYou #MyMomRocks
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