Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The dating woman in 21st century America

Well I fully intended my next post to be an update about India and visiting my sister in London/Oxford and I promise that is coming. And in all honesty I was going to go to bed but I think that some truth needs to be shed on something that maybe we overlook in the day to day.

Let me first say that I am truly truly blessed to live in this day and age. I live in a country that with religious freedom (although sometimes the denigration of Christian is becoming more and more apparent), I live in a world where I can say what I feel, be what I want, and do what I want. Which is more than many women have around the world but I don't want those around me to forget that sometimes our culture is so "forward thinking" that we go backwards.

Before I left for India I heard the song Blurred Lines. I loved it. It had a great beat and a catchy tune. Two days ago I heard the lyrics. Today I saw the official music video and I am ashamed that this is something that I danced to.

In case you don't know, Blurred Lines is a song sung by Robin Thicke featuring well known rappers T.I. and producer Pharrell Williams. Now I have to admit that in listening to the lyrics they don't seem all that bad. Only one line really stuck out to me as grossly inappropriate but that didn't put me off. But after watching the music video, which was intended to be a "tongue in cheek" video mocking the current rap industry I have to say that they stepped out of line. In this topless women in thongs are dancing around fully clothed men. Sad to say that this is not unusual when it comes to music videos but what really got me was a teeny tiny stop sign on a woman's rear end. At this point when in conjunction with some of the lyrics from the song I got the strong impression that they were completely ignoring something that has been bothering me lately about our country. The idea that no does not always mean no. But hey it's ok cause Robin Thicke has a wife and kids. That makes it ok to hold women to such a low standard socially and a high standard physically (seriously all those girls were a size 0 with huge [fake] breasts).

We have been making ridiculous strides in our country over the past 50-60 years. Women no longer have to work from home, they can be the breadwinners, we have women lawyers, judges, congressmen, and senators. These are amazing feats and we should celebrate them but we still have a long way to go. We are honored for our brains not just our beauty. Or sometimes we are. In some areas we are. But sometimes in very big ways, we are not.

Take for example the popular website imgur. Imgur hosts photo sharing in which photos are shared for laughs, to reflect political ideals, religious ideals, to bring awareness, to show off drawings, or just to feel connected. I have an account on this website but many a times I have been told "to get back to the Kitchen" or "Go make me a sandwich" mainly because of my sex. This is regardless of the fact that I have a degree from a top university, make just as much as the men in my department, and that I probably have a firmer grasp of who I am and what I can do for the world that some of the people on that website. Purely by a choice of an X or a Y I am relegated to serving food. Let me say clearly - SCREW THAT.

I have chosen for myself what I am going to be in life. Right now I am a late 20s world traveler. If you took the number of cities and countries and states that I have been to and added them together that number might be higher than the number of miles some people have been from their house. Maybe later I might be a mom, even more I might be a stay at home mom but that is a choice I will make WITH my husband when the time is right. It will not be defined by the gender that I was born.

Sadly not all my choices get to be my own. When going on a date, I take extra precautions. If I am lucky I might have known the guy for a while. More likely than not, a friend has vouched for him. But as this limits the number of dates I would go on and possibly the number of amazing people I would meet sometimes the inevitable date with someone you might not know all that well is... well... inevitable.  In this scenario, as a woman I might take precautions that men don't have to. I tell my roommates the guy's name, where we are going, how I met him, a time they can expect me home, and maybe his cell number. In case, you know the Morgan from the BAU needs to rescue me. The truly sad thing is that I do not find this weird. It is something I have done since I started dating. This is the norm.

On dates, I have to be clear and upfront from the beginning what the expectations are. Most times guys understand and if all they are looking for is sex, we part amicably. Sometimes, they don't get that my saying "it is late, I am going home" IS my final response. I had one guy ask me three times in the space of 5 minutes to go back to his place with him. The first round of denial was not accepted as the final answer. When it became clear that my intention really was to end the night by taking a taxi home I was called a bitch and a tease. Oh not to my face. No, it was under his breath. Asshat. The truth is that these guys are not common in my life but even once is too many times.

Now not all guys are dangerous, heck 90% of them are really genuinely amazing and nice guys. I am proud to say that I know a lot of these guys. But the chance that one isn't a great guy is too great of a chance to take with my safety. The numbers are staggering. Even when a rape is reported, which is an astonishingly low percentage (estimated at around 45%), only 12% result in arrest, 9 % are taken to trial and only about 3% of rapists will see a day in jail. (all stats from RAINN).

This need to protect myself won't ever really go away. I will always be physically weaker than most men but when songs have lyrics in it like "I know You want it" and "I know you're an animal, it's in your nature. Just let me liberate 'cha" (but hey it's ok cause normally he respects woman and can prove it because he is married) it makes me feel like this ideal is being perpetuated instead of halted in it's tracks. That we are making the world more dangerous instead of trying to make it safer.

1 comment:

  1. I am so sorry that you had even one date like the one you described. You're so right: one time is too many. Thanks for speaking out. Love you. - Mary B.