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

Posted at 2:50 PM Mar 26, 2010

Writes a Brooklyn boy: "That's like asking if I'm encouraged when I find out a girl is not retarded."

Writes an Austin boy: "1) no it did not change my level of attraction, was actually more attracted due to the level of intelligence associated (but not sure if my reaction is "typical"). 2) at the same time there is a bit of a struggle or negotiation over what behaviors/interactions are cool and which ones will put you off."

I think my Austin guy's point is right on: it's more about a negotiation of behaviors than some kind of ideological squabble or outright sexist bickering. What do you do when you reject and criticizes heteronormative hegemony and the patriarchy and all that entails, but still love guys? And can you expect guys to really identify with and understand feminism when so many women don't even do that? The key, writes my fellow Doll Merritt (now engaged to a fabulous dude), is to find someone who could be on your level--even if they're not right this second:

... when I was dating, I would look for someone interested in learning about the feminist ideals and women's issues I believe in...though, to be honest, I'd do that after the first chit-chat and "do I even like his voice, forearms, hair, etc." part. I have to be honest--the physical part is important. I may be fairly traditional in terms of waiting a while before doing the deed, but if I can't even comprehend his P in my V (or at least Frenching a little), there's no point in finding out how he feels about Margaret Sanger.

I never looked exclusively for men on my same exact feminist level, but rather, those who were interested in getting there. If they were already there, then great, but I find one of the best things about having these ideals and beliefs is sharing them and educating other people. Likewise, the greatest thing about a successful relationship is learning from one another. If he opened my eyes to a healthier lifestyle and cycling, for example, then I would benefit greatly and find something new to love. But if he'd exed me out of the running because I wasn't already familiar with the concepts or didn't have the bike and tools for that lifestyle when we met, I would've missed out. We would've missed out.
And is there anything to the deadly dating stereotype of the mouthy, aggressive feminist who can't be tamed--the "Hellcat Dream Girl"? Fellow Doll Susan says that's too simplistic:

I mean, yeah, it's hard to be a strong and outspoken lady trying to date dudes who maybe don't have a cultural script for how to respond to that, but I also reject this narrative about men being threatened only by the feminism or the outspokenness or the what-have-you.  I think there is also something (at least in my own experience) about kindness and nurturingness that is also involved, and the issues in any romantic relationship are too complex to be reduced to this "I'm a feminist and it's an issue" thing.  Yeah, we've all had the relationships with the dudes who want us as a trophy, who want to tame something they think is wild, and so on.  But I have trouble letting myself be soft and vulnerable with anyone, which is a facet of my outspokenness, and that is more related to psychology than politics.  I've lost as many good men this way as assholes.  So I dunno.  It's true sometimes, but not all the time, and it seems a little too easy.
What say you, Dolls? Does feminism affect your love life?


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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