There's perhaps no setting where cultural misogyny rears its head more than it does on dates. Especially in heterosexual scenarios, some of the most outdated gender roles can come out. Because of this, there are many things women deal with on dates that men don't have to because their privilege protects them. And women shouldn't have to deal with these things — because dating should be fun and exciting, not upsetting and risky.
Margaret Atwood once said that men are afraid women will laugh at them while women are afraid men will kill them. The worst case scenario for a man — or at least a cisgender, heterosexual, white man, because other forms of oppression can make dating scary for certain men — is usually a rejection. But most women go into dates worried about far worse outcomes, like sexist remarks, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.
In order to make dating a pleasant experience for women, people need to understand that their dates may be uncomfortable for understandable reasons. They also, like everyone, need to make sure make sure their dates are OK with everything that happens and the pace at which it happens. But first, it helps to understand what women are dealing with. So, here are some things women deal with on dates that men may not have thought about:
1. Safety Concerns
As UnsolicitedProject's "How Women Get Ready for First Dates" video points out, women often tell their friends where their dates are in case they go missing, make sure to stay in public for their first few dates, and take other measures to ensure their dates don't put them in danger. This need to be practical and acknowledge that our dates might hurt us can really get in the way of romance. But given that 75 percent of rapes are committed by a date or acquaintance, it's not women's fault for being careful.
2. Fear Of Rejecting Someone
While fear of rejection is extremely common among people of all genders, the fear of rejecting someone else can be especially severe for women. And it's not just about letting someone down. Over the past year, at least 14 women in the United States were violently attacked for turning someone down. This doesn't include women who were verbally attacked for rejecting someone, which most women on dating apps can tell you gets very ugly at times.
3. Wondering If Our Dates View Us As Equals
While not everybody is going to treat men well on dates, it's pretty guaranteed (again, at least for white, cisgender, straight men) that their dates will view them as a human being deserving of the same rights that they have. But since misogyny is so rampant, it's common for women to hear offensive stereotypes and misogynistic remarks on dates. It's also common for women to be scared to tell their dates they're feminists because of stereotypes that feminists hate men and make bad girlfriends.
4. Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment isn't just something women experience from strangers on the street. We also receive unwanted advances and sexualized or insulting comments about our appearances on dates. In fact, there's a whole pickup artist community of men dedicated to manipulating women into sleeping with them, often by making their dates feel bad about themselves. When women are on dates, they're usually keenly aware that no remark about a woman is considered off-limits in our society, and they're often bracing themselves for the worst.
5. Deciding Whether To Go Home With Someone
Let's say things actually go well, and a woman's date shows no signs of misogyny or propensity for violence (hooray!). And let's say things heat up physically. While men may just think about how they feel when deciding whether not to go home with someone after a date, women often have a whole slew of questions: "If I sleep with them, what will my 'number' be?" "Will they still respect me tomorrow?" And, again, "will I be safe?" So, basically, the worst-case scenario is violence, and the best case is slut-shaming. No wonder so many women get nervous before dates.
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