Ladies First?

I consider myself a feminist and a liberal, but I am definitely heterosexual. What does that mean in the dating world, especially since I like "old-fashioned" manners in an escort? I'm also a "girly girl."

On the other hand, I'm independent and self-reliant. I don't like anyone to make assumptions based on my gender. Am I just a walking contradiction, or is this a fairly common dilemma? I've wondered if this isn't why more older women (I'm 43) seem to be dating younger men (who get the equality thing). When older men do adjust, they seem to do it by giving up. Then I wind up planning all the dates and making all the moves. Is a happy medium even possible?

Georgia

I'm a breeder with a bright pink kitchen and a Hello Kitty toaster and proudly call myself a feminist. I'm not sure I understand your dilemma.

When you talk about difficulties in dating, I guess this would depend on how you define "old-fashioned" manners. Should we take this to mean you believe that the man should always pay? That by virtue of having a penis, it's the gentleman's duty to plan every activity, drive both ways, open doors for you, and gallantly throw his coat down on any puddles the two of you might encounter? If that's the case, you're not a contradiction, you're a hypocrite.

You can't have it both ways, and frankly, I don't know why anyone would want to. You're right in thinking a lot of 40-ish guys have given up. Why? Because women with deranged, contradictory expectations have beaten them into submission.

We may make as much money as they do, yet we still expect them to pick up the tab. Huh? Where's the justice in that? I don't know about you, but my uterus didn't come with a booklet of free dinner coupons. Buying a lady a steak is a nice gesture, but certainly it should not be expected. Nor am I at all handicapped— I can open my own door, thanks. (Not that I'm one of those uppity broads who get all indignant at the gesture.)

We throw around terms like autonomy, and then suddenly, as soon as a relationship starts to look remotely promising, we begin mewling for a ring. Suddenly it's acceptable to expect that our "equal"—our partner, our betrothed—fork over the equivalent of three months' salary for some shiny rock mined on the backs of impoverished people. How's that fair?

And furthermore, who can keep up with all the back and forth? Certainly not a guy! Men only retain about one-quarter of anything a woman says to start with, and when you keep switching course on him, he's eventually gonna tune out and just go with the flow. Why? Because it's easier than wondering. The poor guy has no clue as to what would make you happy because what that is changes on a daily basis.

Men are not remotely psychic. If you want something from him, tell him. Or better yet, ask him. If you want him to take charge of planning some of the outings, tell him it'd be great if he took some initiative. But don't bitch when you're stuck watching monster trucks.

Younger men (and women) are less conflicted about all this, because they weren't around when feminism was considered a somewhat radical concept. They were born into a more (note, I didn't say completely) egalitarian society and so take it for granted. Which is why it gets on my tits when youngsters (especially of the female variety) refuse to identify as the F-word. But that's another story for a different day.

Ahem. So yes, if men your own age are giving you agita, give the younger dudes a try. Though they tend to be a bit too chatty for my taste, they make up for it with stamina and the fact that they look really, really good naked; and most of them have fairly agreeable personalities because life hasn't kicked their asses too badly yet. But don't expect Junior Mint to pay for your steak, because he's probably underemployed and will most likely make you listen to his band.

Got dating dyspepsia? Write Dategirl at dategirl@seattleweekly.com or c/o Seattle Weekly, 1008 Western Ave., Ste. 300, Seattle, WA 98104.

 
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