It’s no surprise that everywhere I look this week, be it travelling to work, watching the TV to doing my grocery shop I am bombarded with images of giant hearts, red roses and chocolates. Well, it’s all very nice but it has got me thinking as a self-assured modern girl with feminist ideals and values how I should feel about such traditional (/saccharine!) celebrations as Valentine’s Day where women are encouraged to feel valued and validated by the receiving of a Valentine! It’s kind of frustrating in a sense that us females have fought so hard to come so far in a male dominated world yet when it comes to the world of romance many of our generation are still living by what are perhaps now outdated rules.
Traditional gender roles are evolving (phew!) and whilst many men may still envision such roles as the most perfect example of marriage and family, us females do not! These roles were established during an era when we had no rights, power or autonomy, which meant few choices about what we could do with our lives. Girls were first controlled by their father before control was passed to her husband. But the good news is that this is certainly not the case today!
Feminism has changed our social policies so women now have CHOICE! We can choose to stay at home and raise the children, or as many of us are these days, we can seek out higher education and enjoy having a meaningful, financially rewarding career. Or even do both if we want! But, crucially, before we get the 2.4 family stage, how has the progression of feminism affected our dating behaviour and how can we be sure to lay the best foundation for an equal relationship? (that isn’t necessarily built on hearts and flowers!)
In addition to Valentine’s Day, how many other old fashioned aspects of dating need re writing? In fact, is it time to rip up the outdated rules of romance book? I believe the dating game has definitely shifted and we need to get to grips with what I consider to be the new realities of romance;
Don’t wait for that date! – Gone are the days where us girls have to sit at home staring longingly at the phone hoping a certain someone will make that call. No, now it perfectly acceptable for us to ask him out. Of course we don’t’ need to be blatant about it, even as modern self-assured women we can pursue our intended in subtle ways,(so as to avoid blatant rejection!) such as a little flirtations hinting via Facebook or even a breezy text simply to remind him you’re there!. In fact ‘dates’ are no longer necessarily the base for a relationship. With social media/ work/wider social groups a partnership can blossom in a number of ways. Bottom line, don’t sit around waiting for it to happen!
Explore all opportunities – These days it is totally ok to have more than one man in your life. Be it male friends, work colleagues, potential dates and even exes, with the prevalence of social media, larger friend groups and dating sites we can keep a dialogue with them all, guilt and judgement free! Until we are ‘settled down’ with ‘Mr Right’ having several male influences in your life is a really important step to finding the ‘Right Mr’! Be sure to explore budding opportunities that come from these guys.
Don’t let him pay (all the time!) – Given that many of us are out there pursing our careers rather than sat at home waiting to be provided for by our intended, there is no reason we should be living in accordance of the age old practice of the guy stumping up for everything when you eventually do go out. There is of course nothing wrong with him wanting to take you out and spoil you with a nice meal but perhaps you could equal the balance a little by buying some pre dinner drinks etc.
Open your mind! – Your best bet is to break down those expectations you might have felt boxed you in just because you’re a girl. Instead open your mind to accept that you are now free to behave in any manner you choose. You want to grab the bull by the horns (or the bloke by the balls!) and get things going then do it! You want to keep your options open and keep incommunicado with several potential Lotharios, then do it! Or, you want to keep yourself firmly to yourself and keep the world of romance firmly at bay for now, then do it. Explore, don’t restrict!
Bear with the boys! – As much as us girls have progressed and in the process become more ‘masculine’ in our emotional behaviour whilst still retaining our feminine wiles, the boys seem to be taking more time to integrate and get to grips with the muddy territory of emotions. So, rather than leaping to presumptions conclusions as to their behaviour (he’s not asked me out yet = he doesn’t fancy me/ he’s not got in touch since our date = he doesn’t fancy me etc!) just bear with him – he probably just needs space and time to figure out what is happening and how to respond. Guys have been discouraged from feeling emotional, often mocked, attacked, and belittled for showing emotions. Big boys don’t cry, toughen up, and bite the bullet are all phrases men grow up with. So when they faced with emotional situations they can often be unprepared. He’ll get there in the end with a bit of feminine encouragement(/intervention!) – see previous*
Back to those flowers and choccies though, I’m not on to be churlish and if I was to receive such gifts from an admirer, who am I to refuse them – after all there is no rule that feminists don’t like flowers!