What do you do with a "Hellcat Dream Girl"?

Posted at 2:50 PM Mar 26, 2010

By Andrea Grimes

There is a fair bit of fuckery going on on the web today, and by "fuckery" I mean discussions about doin' it, specifically about doin' it while feminist. What's that? An opportunity to opine about my personal life on a very public blog? Sign. Me. Up.

But first, the official stuff: over on The Sexist, Amanda Hess interviews super-feminist Jaclyn Friedman, and Jill at Feministe expands on the dilemma of dating while feminist. The issue in question: does being a feminist lady make it harder to date dudes? Is there something about the "Hellcat Dream Girl" (as opposed to the Manic Pixie Dream Girl) that guys love or loathe? I asked my fellow Dolls and a couple of dudes who have had the dubious pleasure of dating this feminist what they think.

A brief clip from Jaclyn Friedman's interview:

Here is what's depressing about dating while feminist. Feminism is what I do with my life, it's how I spend my days, it's my job, it's not just an opinion I have among many other opinions. If I had a hardcore litmus test, the pool of men I could date would be so tiny. And then when you weeded out men who are gay, the men I don't find attractive, the men already in monogamous, committed relationships--really, I would never get laid again. So I do feel that I have to try to be flexible out of necessity. But if I were to end up with someone--and I do want a long-term, stable relationship with someone at some point--they would have to be feminist on some basic level. They would have to be.
And the Feministe take:

Point being, it's awfully easy to look at other feminist women and think that they are making obviously terrible choices with their love lives; it is much harder to actually find someone who meets all the requirements of a feminist litmus test, and is single and is someone you're attracted to and is also attacted to you and is someone who you want to discuss things other than feminism with and is in the right place at the right time. So if you want a relationship -- and I think that most people really do want relationships -- you have to be able to put some things aside. Where and how you put your feminism aside is, for me, significantly harder than he likes cats and I'm more of a dog person.
I think many hetero feminist ladies will probably identify with these statements to some degree. But there are a lot issues at play here, and while being a feminist who dates dudes can be an issue, it's also not the only thing going on. "Feminist" isn't an entire identity--and feminism isn't the only thing that makes us ladies who we are.

I didn't self-identify as feminist until a couple of years ago. It was a long process of consciousness-raising through blog-reading, book-buying and news consumption before I finally, at the age of 24, decided that feminism was the way to go. And I definitely did a whole hell of a lot more dating--casual and serious--before I was 24. Is feminism to "blame"? Hard to say. Being in college, and being young generally, put me in a bigger dating pool. I was less jaded, willing to put up with all kinds of shit and fairly serious about seeing what the world had to offer me in the way of dick.

As I've gotten older, I find it much, much more difficult to even crush on anyone. The allure of the deadbeat rock-star-bartender is gone. I no longer want to sleep with a guy just because he looks like Dan Radcliffe. I'm not gazing longingly at every writer under age 70 with a Rolling Stone byline. Having had several long-term relationships and experienced the good and the bad that comes with, I'm much, much less personally invested in finding one again and far more comfortable and happy with myself overall. I fantasize about weddings, not marriage. (I  need to upgrade my Hello Kitty toaster, anyway.)

But while my dating quantity has gone down as I identified as a feminist, the quality of dating has gone way, way up. If I never again talked to most of the guys I slept with before I was 24, I would not much be bothered. But the guys I've met and loved and screwed since will, I hope, remain my friends to some degree or another.

I think being a feminist has made me a better girlfriend, a better dater, a better lover, a better person generally. What's not to like? (Apart from the functional alcoholism and cat obsession.) Indeed, I polled guys I've dated since my feminist awakening, and none of them seem to take much issue with my fierce-ladyness. In fact, it seems to be something they're into. I asked them whether my feminism was a problem, and whether they're more or less attracted to feminists generally.


Joe said:

Good post. Those dudes sound like real winners.

Krista said:

Nice post!

I've always been feminist, but didn't really identify as one until this past year, which has coicided with a long-term, serious relationship.

I would have to agree that being feminist has helped me learn to be more understanding of the choices my boyfriend makes. After all, I'm asking him to let me make choices too. And we seem to have figured out how to make some decisions together.

Now that I am a feminist, I am in a relationship where conflict and behaviors are negotiated. When I wasn't feminist, I was in a relationship where I was told how to act and how to feel.

Yes, being feminist has affected my love life. It's made it a hell of a lot better.

Andrea said:

Joe, you self-congratulating bastard.


Black POWER! The tears of the black man shall rise from the hands of oppression and take back what belongs to him! BLACK POWER PEOPLE, BLACK POWER.

spark said:

"And can you expect guys to really identify with and understand feminism when so many women don't even do that?"

This is actually very interesting. I've been spreading the word that I'll be producing "Trust Women" pins to honor Dr. Tiller and his mission and I'll make one for anyone who asks me, and I've actually gotten more support from high school boys than girls.
While I do agree that I don't see many boys--if any--that are self identifying as feminists, the values and beliefs seem to be more strong in the boys I go to school with than the girls. Which is both awesome and worrying.

SheffieldSteel said:

Great post!

Becoming a feminist equates to realising that the typical male behaviour simpy isn't acceptable. Damn right that cuts down on your dating options. But as you said, we have to consider not just someone's current state of mind, but their potential - and it's crucial that we encourage both men and women to make the attempt to learn and grow.

Joe said:

See this is EXACTLY the kind of negotiation I was talking about. I have no idea what is going on.

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