I am uninclined to compromise. For me the idea of being “swept away” is not about giving myself permission to do things that I’m otherwise afraid to do. It’s that I have never been about the relationship for its own sake. I was a late bloomer in high school and I watched my friends have shitty relationships before I had any of my own.
I always had intense, obsessive crushes that then were over in a blink because they said or did something stupid, irritating, or asshole-ish that just made me wake up. Why would I want to date that guy over there that is eyeballing me when I want THIS one?
When I did start to pull those boys I did really want, then I would compromise. Or I would get bored. Because if I was into it I was all in, and if I wasn’t all in then there was a limit to my tolerance for it.
Like Jill, I’m in no rush to find a relationship. I could’ve married my ex if I wanted to compromise—and by compromise I mean live with someone who yes, I love (present tense—of course I love him still, but I stopped being in love with him ages ago) but who argues with me about my clothes, my politics, my friends. No thanks.
After that breakup, I’ve rather gotten to enjoy the idea that there’s no One Person For Me, but that there will be a series of people that I will love until I think it’s going to break me and that someday those will end. The relationships, anyway. There are some boys in my past whom I still love and still talk to or see on occasion, still care about, but it’ll never be that way again and that’s cool. I gave it all I could and it didn’t work.
At this point I do have a much more clearly defined “litmus test,” I suppose, but it’s wider than just feminism. Do I have to explain to you that poor people don’t just choose to be poor? Not gonna work. Do you make racially insensitive cracks and call people “retards”? Not OK.
Working for a politically oriented TV show, I could meet a new dream boy every week. (Another reason not to settle.) But I’ve rather forgotten how to negotiate that space. Knowing that someone follows me on Twitter or is my friend on Facebook or reads this here Tumblr sometimes makes me want to shut up, frankly. It makes me think “Am I too much?” And then I remember that the important part of that sentence is the “I”, not the too much, and that for better or for worse this loudmouthed wiseass politically passionate person is ME, that what you see on the Interwebs is pretty much what you get in real life, and that I love this person and other people love her too, so why should I ever, ever shut up?
So I mean, I do talk about it on the first date. I talk about lots of things on the first date. I talk about our culture’s devaluing of art. I talk about how hot I think Raj Patel is. I talk about feminism, my deep love for comic books, my crippling addiction to Pepsi, in a can, first thing in the morning, and my fear that I haven’t done anything great yet. I talk about war in Iraq, and Afghanistan, and that punched-in-the-gut feeling from Election Day-After 2004.
Shit, it’s all out there on Google anyway.
I use it to warn off people who are scared, but…Damn, did I relate to Jaclyn’s “Hellcat Dream Girl” statement, that instead of the cutesy girl who’s gonna save you I am the badass girl who’s gonna save you, your reverse knight in shining armor or something. I talk about the scary things and when the vulnerabilities show up, when I’m not perfect, when my crippling self-doubt hits and I can’t sleep and you see me cry for the first time you run away instead.
My brand of feminism doesn’t really tell me that it’s bad to show off this stuff,and yet…there’s a reason I’ve stuck that “You always know what she thinks but she does all her feeling alone” line from Zelda Fitzgerald over there. It’s a reminder, of sorts. I always think that it’s silly to tell people about things that I feel.
One of my pet peeves is people who say “I feel” rather than “I think” because there IS a difference, damnit, and substituting one for the other just devalues them both.
So my feminist litmus test isn’t just about beliefs. It’s about feelings. And that guy who is trying so hard to perform his politics perfectly isn’t going to allow me to have those messy feelings. It’s hard to go all in when you’re so concerned about the surface.
I need someone who will let me have that as badly as I need someone who understands what I mean when I say “gender binary.”