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How to Date a Feminist

AskMen has shared some useful tips and tricks on how to date a feminist. Read on to see all the advice they have!

It's 2015, and fewer and fewer people are shying away from identifying themselves as feminists.

Beyoncé performed at last year's VMAs in front of giant, all-caps lettering spelling out the word "FEMINIST"; Buzzfeed, an enormously popular media outlet, recently expressed unflinching support for the movement; and an increasing number of people is willing to adopt the label compared to a decade ago.

But misconceptions about feminism still linger like a two-day tequila hangover, and men in particular tend to be suspicious of the label and what it involves. However, if you're a man who dates women, there's a pretty good chance you'll wind up sitting across the table from someone who believes in feminist ideals. Here are five tips to help you navigate a date with a feminist.


1. Talking to Her

A common and useful starting point on dates is establishing your respective interests and values. Feminist women, like most people, like to be treated as though our thoughts matter; but unlike most people, feminists have a keen understanding about how women's opinions tend to be sidelined.

Your date will be aware that gender norms have created a dating culture that centers men's voices and needs and treats women as prizes to be won rather than people to be met and heard. There's a simple way to impress your date and avoid falling into this cultural trap: Respect and listen to her; preferably with a relaxed and nonjudgmental attitude.

A good start is to show a healthy curiosity towards her interests: Don't die of shock or treat her like a snowflake if she has "non girlie" interests like rap music or football; and, conversely, try not to scoff or visibly tune out if her interests are traditionally feminine ones like fashion or baking. Don't neg her: It's abrasive, corny and doesn't work on anyone with a shred of self-esteem.

Despite whatever the community of men with top hats and purple fingernails has told you, sincere and on-point compliments are a good way to endear yourself to your date. Make sure you allow her to voice her views without leaping to play devil's advocate or steamrolling her opinions: This is a date, not a first-year philosophy lecture, so avoid being pointlessly argumentative and focus on establishing mutual interests instead.

2. Talking to and About Other Women

In general dates are an opportunity to read subtle cues about what kind of person you're meeting, but if you're dating a feminist, it's likely that she'll be particularly attuned to your treatment of women. Be aware of the signals you're giving off when you talk to or about other women: For example, it won't bode well if you spend the date discussing your "crazy ex".

Exes are a terrible first date topic in general, but feminists have long been side-eyeing men who call their exes crazy, mostly because "crazy" tends to translate to "had emotional needs and insisted to some degree that I met them." It's an extra red flag if you insist that all your exes were crazy, because it sounds like a curious coincidence with you as the only common denominator. If you think that every woman you've dated is an irrational psycho, that says more about your attitude to women and relationships than it does about your exes.

Your date will also be picking up cues from how you treat women in front of her in real time. Are you snapping at the waitress and barking your orders at her? Did you skip your sister's birthday drinks to come on the date? Hopefully not, because these are all warning signs that, while you'll no doubt cherish us during the courting phase, the star treatment will quickly fade.

3. Paying the Bill

It's a fundamental feminist belief that men and women should be free to choose how closely they engage with traditional gender roles, if at all. Happily for you, this may mean that your date doesn't automatically assume you'll pay for everything just because you're a man.

However, if you enthusiastically seize on this one feminist principle above all others to avoid footing the bill, you're likely to come across as stingy rather than principled. There's room for romantic gestures within a feminist relationship, and it's not axiomatically anti-feminist for you to pay for the date.

As a general rule of thumb, if you've invited someone on a date with you it is grown-up and generous to offer to pay for it. If she insists on splitting, so be it. However, you'll land on your feminist date's shit list if you assume that paying for dinner entitles you to a kiss, staying the night, or seeing her again.

Paying for a woman's dinner doesn't mean she owes you anything, and if you aren't willing to share a dinner with someone without drawing them into a weird subliminal power pay of obligations, you aren't grown up enough to be dating at all. Offer to pay and mean it with no strings attached — if all goes well, maybe she'll get the next round.

4. Follow Up

So the date is over, and the "what's next?" question looms. Whether or not the date went well, there are certain base-level decencies to check off, like ensuring that your date gets home safely. Offering to walk her to her car or apartment is a kind gesture, but don't push it if she says it's not necessary or hover around expectantly when you get to her door.

If, from your perspective, the date didn't go well, reject her kindly but honestly. Tell her it was nice to meet her but you didn't feel a connection; and if the date went well from your perspective but not from hers, respect her right to tell you the same thing. Neither of you needs to list off the ways you fell short of each other's expectations, just impart a simple and gentle "no thanks" and keep it moving.

If it went well on both sides (woohoo!) and a second date seems likely, that's great, but don't become complacent — you can still kill the vibe with an unsolicited dick pic or jerky communication style. Try not to get caught up in the clichéd, Rules-y idea that you can guarantee your date's continued interest by feigning indifference, and do what feels natural for you. If the date went well and you feel like texting her straight away, then do it. If she's put off by your enthusiasm, she's not the one for you.

5. Remember, She's Not From Another Planet

Hopefully you read all of the the above tips and thought, "No sh*t, that's the way anyone would want a date to treat them." Congratulations! You've hit upon the feminist agenda, which is no more and no less than to be treated as fully human. Stale stereotypes about feminism still linger in our collective consciousness, but your date is unlikely to be seeking anything more audacious than respect, understanding and empathy for her gender; that's why tips for dating feminist women double as hints on how to treat any person with respect and kindness.

Dating feminist women doesn't require a complicated and unique set of rules or familiarity with the complete works of bell hooks: Just be fundamentally decent, and the rest will follow. Good luck!

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