Men are a Distraction (Flaky Chris, Horny Nathan, and Sexual Harassment)

I decided that in order to attract a relationship, I needed to give off more of a relationship vibe on OkCupid, so I re-answered a couple of questions, added ‘no hookups’ to my profile, took off some of the sexier pics (which I shouldn’t have to do but I thought ‘okay I’ll play the game’), and added some ‘look how much of a fun girlfriend I would be’ pics. It hasn’t really made much difference to the quality of messages I’ve been receiving, but at least if the right guy does come across it, then it will be clearer to them. 

There was a guy called Chris I’d been talking to since December, and after my decision to look for dating rather than sex, I told him about this, and he said he was still interested in us meeting up.

We arranged to meet on a Wednesday afternoon in a cool cafe on Brick Lane. I got there at 4.40 (only ten minutes late for once!!) and text him saying I was there. He replied saying he’d thought he messaged me to change it to 5.30.

WHAT?!

I said ‘okay I’ll just chill in the cafe and listen to a podcast’. Then at ten past 5 he sends me this:`

chris-2

Then he said I was the first person he’d stood up ‘unintentionally’! Apparently people just go around doing this, yet I once turned up to a date just to tell the guy I didn’t want to go on a date with him. Which I think is the right thing to do.

I joked about him flaking due to not wanting to be on my blog, and he said actually he’d quite like to be on my blog, and I said it was too late, and he’ll always just be Flaky Chris now. I’m aware his wish has still come true. (Be careful what you wish for, Chris).

We chatted on Whatsapp for a bit and he said he’d still like to meet me, and because I keep forgetting that I’M AN AMAZING WOMAN WHO SHOULD STOP GOING FOR IDIOTS WHO AREN’T GOOD ENOUGH FOR ME, I said ‘well okay, you can come to my gig on Saturday’, because I have to be there anyway, so it doesn’t matter if you turn up or not.

I thought about if for a few days, and then decided that I didn’t want Flaky Chris to come. Yes it can be fun having a date at your gig, but it’s also annoying in a way. It was different when Tory1 came to see me, because I’d already met him, but it still took away from me a little. I did a gig last week run by the same people who had been at Date with a Tory, and one of them said it was good to watch me perform without being distracted by him. I just did jokes about him instead. 

So I told Flaky Chris not to come to my gig, as it was my first of the year, and I needed to focus on the comedy. #TheComedysMoreImportant

Now if I’d been really clever in the first place, I would have given him the details of another gig to go to that I wasn’t going to be at, and he would have gone there, and I could have got my revenge. But sadly I didn’t think that quickly. 

Anyway, Flaky Chris then asked if he could come to the next gig after that, and I said some friends might be coming (which was sort of true). He kept messaging me, so I eventually replied and asked him how his weekend was, and got a reply I was not expecting.

He told me he’d been doing a parasite cleanse, and that he was disappointed he’d ‘shit out a worm but most of them are to (sic) small to see’…

I purposefully tapered off the conversation after that, and that was the end of Flaky Chris and his flaky parasites. 

But let’s talk about Horny Nathan…

Nathan was another one who I’d been talking to online since December. I asked him about what he was looking for, and he said just a casual thing at the moment. I said that wasn’t really what I was after, and told him about my bad experience. He agreed that even casual sex still needs some sort of connection and intimacy, and I thought ‘well we all have needs’, maybe I could try it again with someone different.

But we carried on chatting and the more we chatted, the less I was interested in meeting him. He always seemed to be telling me he was horny and his sexting style was a little strange. Not only did he lack imagination, but he’d often put a winky face after something blatantly sexual.

For example:

Feel the inside of your pussy all over my cock 😉

Why is there a winky face after that?

It reminded me of a song by a comedian called Lucy Cox where she sang, ‘winky face means sex’. Winky face is something you use after innuendo to make it extra clear there was a bit of flirting going on. 

When you’re already talking about sex, there’s no need to confirm that you were talking about sex! Also I don’t mind chatting a bit about sex before you meet someone, maybe just to work out compatibility, but when that’s the main topic, I get bored of being just your wanking material.

He was mostly only messaging late at night (oh I wonder why), but one time we were daytime chatting and he suggested us meeting to have sex. I reiterated what I’d said in the past to him about going for a drink with NO EXPECTATIONS just to see if we got along, which he’d seemed to be fine with a couple of weeks ago, but not anymore.

nathanscreenshot-2

Why are people going to other people’s houses that they’ve met online without meeting in public first?

Of course I’m very aware that you can still be raped and/or murdered by someone you’ve met in a public place, and then gone back with later (remember that Tinder hotel story one of my Tinder dates told me), and I’m also aware that most rapes and murders are carried out by someone you know.

However, I do think that meeting someone first, and getting a sense of what they are like before you go home with them is the most sensible thing to do in this situation, but clearly he doesn’t have the patience for this.

I also don’t understand the assumption that you’re definitely going to fancy each other. Even if someone looks attractive in their pics, I think a lot of us have been on dates where the pics might as well have been of a different person. When you’re in a pub, it’s not quite as difficult to leave prematurely, but once you’re at someone’s house, that’s a lot more awkward.

Anyway, Horny Nathan hasn’t replied since then. He’s probably still horny and most likely wanking right now. 

But moving on to more important things…

I think I’m a fairly chilled feminist socialist. I don’t tend to rant about feminism or politics that much online, other than sharing the odd piece here and there. I’ve never been to a march, or a protest before, and probably wouldn’t have gone on Saturday even if I didn’t have other plans.* Because effort. And crowds. Okay I’m basically a lazy feminist. I’ll like your social media posts with all the witty placards and signs, but actually go along myself? No chance.

But something happened to me on Saturday that made me think maybe I do need to be a bit more proactive. And it seemed all the more telling that it happened on the same day as the Women’s March, and Trump’s inauguration. I went to my friend’s birthday drinks in the evening, and had a really good time, and I was walking home from the tube probably around 11.30pm.

In a very short space of time after exiting the station I had 3 different men saying things like ‘gorgeous’ and ‘sexy’ to me. I was annoyed, but I was cold, and wanted to get home, and the lazy feminist in me couldn’t be bothered to say anything. But then a few minutes later, I realised three men were walking behind me, one of them made a weird noise, the sort you would use to try and summon an animal, and another one said something about me, I can’t remember what it was but it made me feel uncomfortable, and was an unwanted distraction to my journey home.

The culmination of all these events meant that I couldn’t stay quiet any longer. In the past I’ve shouted at guys or told them to ‘fuck off’, but this time I decided to talk to them about it, in a calm way, without losing my temper. 

I turned around and told them that it wasn’t appropriate to do that to a woman walking on her own late at night, and that they should have more respect. One of them tried to argue that some women like it and that it was a compliment.

As we walked down the street, I tried to explain that most women I know don’t like it, and they’ve probably just never told them.

And yes, sometimes I like sexual attention from men, of course I can admit that, but it’s all about context. And this was the wrong context. It’s not nice to feel outnumbered and intimidated.

The one who made the noises kept asking me questions like ‘where are you going now?’, I told him this was inappropriate too, and the men laughed at this (not in a good way), and couldn’t understand what was wrong about what they were doing.

I went on to say that they’ve probably never felt scared that they might be attacked or assaulted walking by themselves, but that’s how women feel sometimes, and especially at night time they should just leave us alone. But no matter what I said, they just didn’t seem to get where I was coming from, and it made me so angry and upset that they couldn’t see it from my point of view. 

So now we have a President of the United States who doesn’t seem to care about consent or women’s rights, or anything that makes logical sense. A President who would probably would take the side of these men who thought it was okay to harass me on my way home. 

I won’t even apply for a job where I don’t meet one of the points on the person specification, yet Trump acts like he never even read the job description. And yes maybe Hillary wasn’t the best option either, but at least she was qualified for the role, and didn’t go around saying it was okay to grab men’s dicks without their permission. But so many people were too distracted by Trump’s incredibly unconventional approach to running for president to see through his bullshit. It seemed like the more controversial he was, the more support he got.

I’ve seen a lot of posts on social media saying that democracy happened and people should get over it, yet I keep thinking about the fact that Hillary actually got more votes than Trump. More people wanted her to be president. If this had happened in Brexit there would have been outrage.** ‘Oh we know you got 1,269,501 more votes, but sorry babes some votes are worth more than others’.

Saturday night was another reminder that a lot of men in the world just don’t respect women, not enough to turn up for a date, not enough to want us for more than just sex, not enough to criticise a female politician intelligently without resorting to gender based remarks, not enough to support our reproductive rights, and not enough to let us walk home in peace without feeling the need to comment on the way we look. 

What can we do about it?

What I said to those guys probably didn’t make any difference, but maybe if the next woman says something to them, and the woman after that, maybe if we keep challenging this behaviour, eventually things will improve. I don’t know. And I understand why most women would put their heads down and just keep walking, because there is a real risk of something awful happening to you. But I’m not going to stop challenging it. And I might even go to a women’s march next time. I can use my new found love of arts and crafts to make a good banner.

And what about dating?

I just keep finding that men are a distraction, and not just the ones you like either. The ones you don’t like are a distraction too. The time you spend checking online messages and profiles in the vague hope there will be a decent one there.

It annoyed me that I’d wasted an afternoon waiting for some guy who didn’t have the basic capability to organise his day properly. (I’d even been willing to overlook the fact that he often made really bad spelling and grammar errors on text, despite good grammar being one of my favourite things, as he said he was dyslexic).

If I think about my happiest times, a lot of them are when I was single and didn’t have any guys on my mind. So yeah it would be nice to have a partner to go to the next Winter Wonderland with, but I’m just going to try and not put too much attention into it, just check the apps every now and then, and meet people that seem cool, but not waste too much time messaging, or agree to meet guys I already know I won’t be compatible with.

At the beginning of this month, I wanted to go on a date every week, and basically treat it like a numbers game, but someone pointed out to me that I was turning it into project, and this might not be the best approach, and I agree. What I really would like is to meet someone in real life, and this seems so rare now, but I’m also going to keep going to cool and interesting places and see what happens.

Maybe I’ll find someone to be my boyfriend this year, and maybe I won’t, but in the meantime I’m dating myself. I’m going to be my own best boyfriend. Take myself on dates, cook myself great food, watch movies with myself, maybe use my vibrator a bit more often, and cuddle myself…yeah that last one is weird, I guess I can use my teddy or new piggy for that instead.

*I was watching one of my female friends in the Musical Comedy Awards heat- so in a way I was still supporting the cause

**Side note – let’s not forget that the outcome of the referendum was supposed to be advisory, yet I suspect even with the fact there now has to be a vote in parliament, there’s nothing we can do to stop Brexit now, and even Jeremy Corbyn seems to want it (just put us all out of our misery Jez and admit you secretly voted leave)

My new piggy:

piggy

How to Date a Feminist

On Friday night I went to see ‘How to Date a Feminist’ at the Arcola Theatre. I’ve just started a programme called ‘The Artist’s Way’, all about releasing your creativity, which involves taking your inner artist on a date once a week. I often go to things alone anyway, as I enjoy (often prefer) my own company, so it didn’t feel weird being by myself.

It opens with the two main characters – Steve proposing to Kate, but Steve has been raised a staunch feminist by his activist mum Morag. So before he can propose he must apologise for the patriarchy, and everything they have done over the years (ancient Greece, FGM, domestic violence, footbinding). Kate seems to find all this a bit excessive and in the end just shouts ‘For fuck’s sake! Propose!’

htdaf

It then goes backwards in time to the night they first met at a fancy dress party. Kate is dressed as Wonder Woman and Steve is dressed as Robin Hood. Because ‘he’s a brilliant ethical hero…he basically invented the welfare state’. Kate thinks the whole point of Wonder Woman is that you can see her pants and Steve explains (mansplains?!) why she’s actually a fantastic role model.  

Kate’s ex, Ross is also at the party, dressed as Superman. When they were still together, he had wanted her to come as Lois Lane, but they broke up because she caught him shagging the intern. Kate tells Steve all this and reveals that she can’t help liking ‘bad men’ – men like Heathcliff from ‘Wuthering Heights’. Steve questions this and doesn’t see the appeal of it. He thinks that Kate should stop ‘liking bad men’, of course implying that she should go for someone like him. 

So in the words of No Doubt ‘Why do we choose the boys that are nasty?’

Because nice guys are known for being boring. Even Jess in ‘New Girl’ is reluctant to date someone because he’s ‘too nice’. Nice doesn’t get women off. But bad guys don’t make for good boyfriends. So where does that leave us?

I think a lot of women have this conflict of wanting a ‘bad man’, because they are more ‘exciting’, but then also wanting a man who will treat you properly. This is definitely something I have experienced. And it seems difficult to find someone who is the perfect mix of half way between the two. But it looks like Steve has gone too far the other way. The first time he and Kate are making out he keeps asking for her permission (May I kiss you? May I kiss you again with my tongue? May I kiss your collarbone?) to the point where it just becomes ridiculous.

Later at their wedding, Kate’s (more traditional) dad and Morag end up kissing and start taking each other’s clothes off. Steve and Kate find them together and Steve just can’t understand why his mum would consensually have her hair pulled, and assumes that Kate’s dad must have forced her into it in some way, because her dad is the sort of man who just ‘takes what he wants’.

Kate and Steve begin to argue and Kate tells Steve that she wants him to take what he wants sometimes – ‘make decisions, choose wine, open doors, drive a car, operate a drill, eat steak! Be a bit rapey when we go to bed’. Steve is especially offended by the last one.

I can see how it must be very confusing for some men, especially very ‘feminist’ men who have been taught all these years not to hurt a woman, yet are met with inner conflict when they find that a lot of women would like to be sexually dominated, to varying extremes. I’ve definitely experienced this, and remember I had sex with one guy a couple of times who was willing to be quite rough, but absolutely refused to slap me in the face, because he just couldn’t do that to a woman. On the flip side, I feel some guys need to remember that just because you are into that kind of sex, doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve to be treated with respect. 

Despite Steve’s ‘feminism’, it seems in a way he’s just like the men he strives against, because he too cannot comprehend or accept complexities in women. He wants Kate to change, and as a result almost becomes just as controlling as the men who are not self-proclaimed feminists. I wonder what Steve’s character would think about women who choose to use their sexuality, such as porn stars (or pop stars). Steve probably doesn’t watch porn, or if he does, he seeks out ethical feminist porn made by real life couples, and most dsc_0460-1024x652-1000x637definitely can’t reach orgasm if the woman doesn’t look like she’s enjoying it.  

The play also opened up the idea of whether men can be true feminists.  Even Steve ends up shouting at his mum in a slightly threatening way. She tells him ‘You’ll never know how it feels. You’ll never really understand.’ And I think she has a point here, and maybe that’s why Steve has been over-compensating this whole time, because he can’t really imagine what it’s like to be a woman. 

Another thing that annoyed me about Steve is that he still got down on one knee to propose in the traditional way AND gave Kate an engagement ring that he chose. One thing that is a majorly problematic for me about marriage in heterosexual relationships, is that it is almost always men who propose, and women who wear engagement rings (I was delighted recently when met a man who was wearing one that his fiancée had bought him). Steve also says at one point that he wants to rescue Kate, like she’s some sort of archetypal princess in a Disney film.

It was a very funny show, that raised some interesting points about feminism, and the relationships between men and women. Both actors were outstanding, especially the way that they seamlessly moved between different characters. I particularly liked when they skipped down the aisle to ‘Robin Hood, Robin Hood Riding Through the Glen’. Plus the fact that Kate’s suggestion was Kate Bush’s ‘Wuthering Heights’, and she wanted to act out being let at in a window. Some of you may know how obsessed I am with this song – I think I may have laughed particularly loudly at this point. (If I ever do end up getting married, I will be using this idea…)

I guess ultimately it’s important to have a balance, not to be like Ross, Kate’s ex, who only sees Kate in very reductionist terms, (basically just wants her for sex, and keeps trying to get her to write lifestyle pages instead of more serious journalism),  but not going so far the other way that you view women as needing to be mollycoddled or ‘saved’. And I think this balance can come from more men starting to treat women as people, with complex thoughts and behaviours, rather than just as women.

‘How to date a Feminist’ was at The Arcola Theatre 22nd Nov – 17th Dec 2016, written by Samantha Ellis and starring Tom Berish and Sarah Daykin

 

I Don’t!

This weekend I went to my cousin’s wedding in Buxton. It was a lovely day, and nice to see some of my family I hadn’t seen for a while. The inevitable questions came about whether I would be next and I explained that I’m not getting married, to looks of surprise and confusion. But it got me thinking, is this definitely something I don’t want, and if so, why don’t I want it?

When I was a younger; indoctrinated by Disney movies and Rom Coms, I assumed that eventually I would get married and even planned out my wedding in my head (I wanted it to be in a castle), but as I got older I realised that perhaps all this wedding malarkey wasn’t for me. My boyfriend is even more against marriage, so unless a miracle happens (to both of us), this woman is never walking down that aisle (except to walk to my seat at other people’s weddings).

Reasons why I won’t be getting hitched
N.B this post gives examples from heterosexual weddings, as these are the only ones I have attended so far, and I am in a heterosexual relationship, but I know a lot of the traditions will not apply in same sex relationships and ceremonies.

1. The engagement ring
So a man is supposed to spend (at least) a month’s salary on this thing and then get down on one knee in some clichéd romantic fashion possibly in front of lots of people, then you look overjoyed and scream ‘yes!’ and then go on your Facebook page and tell everyone how he proposed. Umm…

The thing I hate most about this bit is the idea of waiting for a man to propose to you; which I hear talked about often, along with ‘I thought he was never going to do it’. At least I know with certainty that my man is genuinely never going to it.

How I would do it if I was going to get married: Either I would propose to reverse stereotypes, or we would just have a chat one day and decide as a couple that we would get engaged. No extravagant gestures and no expensive engagement ring. If there was going to be a ring, it would be fairly cheap and he would have to wear one too and since he hates wearing rings (so I don’t know what we would even do about the wedding ring in this hypothetical scenario), that’s unlikely.

2. It’s not like I’m a virgin
Historically, and still nowadays in certain religions, marriage is a religious ceremony linking your love to your God, and enabling you to now be able to have sexual intercourse without ‘sin’.

I happen to like sin, and find it incredibly unrealistic that you would marry someone without knowing how sexually compatible you are, so this certainly doesn’t apply to our relationship. Also neither of us follows a specific religion, there’s no need to cement our union in front of the leader or whatever. Also it always seems to be the woman’s virginity that is emphasised. I’ve never seen the man wear white to show his purity.

How I would do it: I’ve already ‘done it’ ha ha ha. But seriously, there’s no way it could be in a church or other religious building, even though some churches are very pretty. A castle would be cool, as I said before or maybe some gardens or a historical building.

3. Money
Apparently weddings cost around 20 grand! I say skip the wedding and just do the honeymoon without the ceremony. Or put down a deposit on a house, or go on a shopping spree, or give it to charity. Hell if you have a spare 20 grand, you are well lucky, so don’t waste it! Either that or you now have a massive bank loan/credit card bill.

How I would do it: Make sure we actually had enough money saved to pay for it, which would probably mean getting married in our 40s, or never.

4. Contractual Obligation
I get that the whole point is that because you are married you are more likely to work through problems, rather than just leave at the first sign of trouble. But I like the independence of being able to leave when I want and not having to pay loads of money to break up with someone. Divorces can be almost as messy and expensive as actual weddings, plus you then have to admit that 20 grand you spent a while back was just a waste of money. You could have numerous honeymoons if you just didn’t bother with the wedding bit.

How I would do it: Probably make an unromantic pre-nup and try to find the cheapest lawyer around if it all went wrong.

5 The Vows
Admittedly they have been updated and you’d be hard pressed to hear anyone saying ‘love, honour and obey’ anymore. However I did notice at the weekend, the groom saying that he will ‘protect’ the bride, which I thought was a bit outdated, and as it was a traditional Christian wedding, there was a lot of God chat and hymns.

How I would do it: Write our own vows, have as short a service as possible (guests get bored and hungry), in and out in less than half an hour. Also when the registrar asks if any person knows of any lawful reason why we shouldn’t get married, I would totally get someone to heckle something as a joke (and then probably due to the red tape of having to investigate the claim, the wedding would be delayed and we could all go to the pub for a bit).

6. The Dress
Why is it always so long? I’m surprised more women don’t trip over that thing; incredibly impractical.

How I would do it: Wear a short dress like the slutty non-virgin I am, who says you can’t get out legs and cleavage on your wedding day? Not me. Of course it wouldn’t be white either, (obvs) but mainly because white gets dirty easily and if there’s going to be wine, food and the classic chocolate fondue fountain, it’s probably not the best colour for me. Any other colour will do. Maybe even black.

6. Being given away
Another outdated tradition of transferring ownership of you from your dad to your husband, perpetuating the idea that women are property/objects etc.

How I would do it: Well as my father is deceased, he couldn’t give me away anyway. I would probably want to walk down the aisle with my partner and thus destroy that soppy ‘watching the groom’s face as he first sees her walk towards him’ moment.

7. The speeches
Ah the speeches, where important members of the wedding ensemble get to stand up and talk. Wait, except it’s almost always the father of the bride, the groom, and the best man – all men. It makes me so frustrated when you don’t hear any of the women speak. It’s all praising the bride for looking beautiful (though in this recent wedding, a lot of comments were made about her amazing non-looks based qualities too) and ridiculing the groom. What if I want to be ridiculed too? Why can’t people talk about my ill-judged life decisions and insinuate how naughty I was on the hen do?! I sat there at this wedding thinking ‘I’m a better public speaker than these guys who can’t project or articulate even with a microphone’ (genuinely missed a lot of what they said due to this problem).

How I would do it: I would give a speech, as would the groom, best man and my best woman, so that way it would be equal and I would also get to tell my husband how beautiful he looked. (Aww).

8. The bouquet (and all the other hundreds of flowers)
I’m not really a flowers kind of gal; I had a mini freak out when my boyfriend bought me flowers on our third date (though it was really sweet), so I find the flowers at weddings overwhelming. The bouquet thing is weird too – all the unmarried women scrambling for the symbol that proves they will be next! OMG! It must be true. Luckily I didn’t accidentally catch the bouquet at the weekend otherwise my family’s comments about me getting married would have been even worse. One of them said afterwards, while showing me a photo of the bouquet bit ‘you didn’t even try to catch it’. Shocker.

How I would do it: Minimal flowers. My bouquet would consist of black roses, to go with my possible black dress, and to symbolise the death of my anti-wedding crusade. Oh and if I’m going to throw it, then the unmarried men can try and catch it too. Plus I’d hide a water balloon inside just for jokes. Weddings are supposed to be fun, right?!

9. The first dance and wedding music
At the weekend wedding, the couple took a relaxed wander in each other’s arms around the dance area to a recent slow famous love song I can’t remember the name of. Less dancing, more talking to each other and trying not to feel too self-conscious that all eyes were on them. Some couples take dance lessons and come up with full blown routines, such as the routine from Dirty Dancing. Then everyone else joins them on the dance floor to dance to lame pop songs.

How I would do it: The Dirty Dancing idea sounds amazing, we would have to do the lift at the end though, like this couple, not like this couple who didn’t bother. I would have a DJ that didn’t play cheesy music all night and maybe even make our own playlist of our favourite songs.

10. The name change
I’ve noticed sometimes the bride’s friends and family will start calling her the future Mrs so and so on social media before she has even got married and most of the women I know who have got married have changed their names, so that the name from the man’s side of the family can get passed down when the couple has children. Some women even keep their own name but give their children the husband’s name.

Even worse than that is when people address you using only your husband’s names. So my partner and I would be called Mr and Mrs Jake Pickford. No identity for the woman at all. Weird. Even when you don’t change your name some people still assume that you have, as this has happened to a friend I know who didn’t take her husband’s name. There’s also this outdated practice of being asked for your mother’s maiden name as a security password, which has happened to me. What if your mother’s maiden name is the same as your last name? That’s not very secure is it?

How I would do it: Make an announcement to everyone I know not to presume that I will be taking my husband’s last name, because I would keep my own name, or at the most I would double barrel (but probably not). As I won’t be having children either, I wouldn’t need to worry about what name they would get. Yes I know, not having kids as well as not getting married! Before you say it, if I had a pound for every time someone said I will change my mind, I could probably afford to bring up a child.

So there you have it; 10 reasons why I’m not getting married. If you’re still not convinced, that’s fine, because Jake and I did decide on one loophole, which is we would do it if we got to go on ‘Don’t tell the Bride’, however given that none of us will be inclined to apply for this show in the first place, the loophole is pretty insignificant. Although he now has an easy-to-refer-to list for if we do.

If you want to get married, I understand, because not getting married is not for everyone. So keep inviting me to your ‘special days’ and I will happily write nice encouraging shit in your wedding book, eat your wedding cake and dance to the Macarena. Just don’t ask me when my wedding is.