It's a holiday, so a good day for a nice, light post with some feminist grounding. Sady and Jill have both weighed in on the subject of dealbreakers, Sady explicitly in response to the rejecting-a-dude-for-geekiness controversy and Jill in response to GOOD's Dealbreakers feature. I think both are good, important reads, especially since so many people are projecting their own fear of rejection onto the Gizmodo story and judging the writer on unfair grounds. Sady, like myself, thought it dastardly to name the guy in the Gizmodo post, but, like myself, is appalled at all variations on the theme of, "Women who reject geeks are SHALLOW BITCHES AND I'LL BET YOUR NEXT BOYFRIEND HITS YOU AND THEN YOU'LL BE SORRY." Ahem. Warning: Sady does screw up and misattributes this reaction from Jon Finkel himself, when in fact he reacted like a grown-up to the whole thing. It was people who were projecting their own fears of rejection onto him that were doing this. But please read it anyway, because her framing of the entire incident is fascinating. She brings up the Frog Prince myth that is foisted on women—especially in romantic comedies—that the guy you find unappealing will, if you give him a chance, morph into Mr. Perfect. And what a fucking lie that is.
It's upsetting to read mostly women in comments come down on Sady like a hammer. It's really obvious what's going on, of course. They're geeky and don't like being rejected for it, so they're projecting that onto the situation without thinking about what the alternative is, which is demanding that women lay sadly under men they find unattractive while those men penetrate their bodies, all in order to prove they aren't "shallow". That there is a fucked the fuck up demand and I applaud everyone who loudly proclaims against it. As the comments at Feministe demonstrate, there are a lot of women out there who are being concern trolled by friends and family who expect them to settle for someone they don't want, because OMG you might be single and that's the worst thing that could ever happen to a woman.
I liked Jill and Sady's posts because they spelled out some of their own dealbreakers, which helps normalize the idea that women have a right to say no and this doesn't make them shallow or evil. Yes, even if what they very much don't want in their life is a geek. Thinking about it, I realized when I was single, I had a long-ass list like Jill's(I guess I technically still do, but having a boyfriend, I don't have to mentally check in with it), and I refuse to be ashamed.
*Bad or incompatible taste in music. This was something I occasionally felt guilty about when I was single, but it was just a no-go. If a guy liked a bunch of shitty or boring music, I knew there was no long-term potential. If he was indifferent to music, there wasn't even short-term potential. I mean, what are you going to talk about and what are you going to do for fun if music is off the table? It would literally be like dating someone who isn't into sex for me. Incompatible music is a slightly different issue, but still important. I don't think I could make it work with someone who was deep into dance music or any other kind of music that I can accept can be very artful, but isn't my thing. I don't like fighting over the stereo, because it's one place where I really stand my ground and then come across as bitchy. The idea of spending a lot of time wearing a polite expression over someone else's taste makes me really sad. A corollary to this is no dating of guys in bands you can't stand. This, I think, was one of the things that was escalating tension between my ex and myself that led to the break-up—it just can't be a coincidence that relations broke down rapidly while his taste in music to play began to drift in unacceptable directions.
*Bad dresser. There's something off-putting to me about men who are dedicated slobs. Even if you're a jeans-and-T-shirt guy, I prefer a clean, well-fitting shirt and nice jeans. And not wearing shit like sandals. I would see guys who were sloppy dressers and I would think, "And there's someone who will never once want to go out to dinner just because the weather is nice." In Austin, the music thing was never a problem, but sometimes the bad dresser thing could limit your options. It's just a slovenly town, for all its other wonders. But, as noted before, there's no shame in being single. Plus, a lot of men in Austin have a studied casualness that looks good without being dressed-up.
*Beards. Hate 'em. I don't mean like a couple day's stubble that you routinely remove, but like a full-on beard. It's not like I wouldn't be friends with a guy with a beard, but kissing a dude with a beard puts me way off. I'm super glad to be off the market in our times of "mountain man" being a style. I object to that style in total, but also just really don't like beards, which I refer to as "germ farm face pube crumb catchers". I also feel a beard is making a mockery out of how much shaving women are still expected to do. You have one thing to shave, guys! That is not too much. I never see hipster dude with a beard out about town with a woman sporting underarm and leg hair, you know.
*Religion or belief in woo. Again, a main objective in my life is to minimize having to make polite, tolerant faces at someone else's bullshit. There's enough of that in your family and social circles, so why invite it into your home? If a guy was into astrology or, god forbid, religion, there is no fucking way. None. I can't stilfle my opinion about acupuncture for hours, so years is just off the table. Plus, the god thing is heavily correlated with unquestioned hostilty towards female sexuality and independence. I don't want to worry while dating a liberal Christian that one day I'm going to have a anti-patriarchy opinion that he's suddenly deeply uncomfortable with. But that's really a secondary concern, right behind my complete and utter inability to spend too much time around someone whose fantasies have such a powerful grip on them.
*Republicanism, anti-choice beliefs, bigotry that sort of thing. I won't even be friends with someone who's anti-choice, honestly. I consider it a form of bigotry, on par with homophobia. I'm not friends with homophobes, so why should I be friends with someone who has lingering hostility towards women who want to have sex without "consequences"? I've had situations where anti-choice people took my casual, happy nature as evidence that we could be friends, and I had to shut that down. Just, no. Belief that I'm entitled to control my own body is minimum. I'm fine with being friends with someone who feels they couldn't have an abortion themselves, but the second they judge someone else, we're done. Needless to say, racism and homophobia are also just no-duh dealbreakers.
*Cat haters. I haven't actually really dealt with this, but I hear they're out there. I don't fathom cat-hating. I think it's based primarily on ignorance of how sweet cats are, but it's really not my job to educate someone on this topic.
*Lacking an evil sense of humor. It's not just that I need a guy with a sense of humor, but it also has to be dark, too. I laugh at all sorts of inappropriate shit, and I not only need that to be acceptable to a guy, I need him to make me laugh by cracking dark jokes, too. This is so incredibly critical. Earnestness and I do not get along.
I could go on, but you get the picture. I've definitely spent time seeing guys who just didn't meet my idiosyncratic standards of what I wanted, because they were nice and fun and there was stuff you could do to kill time with them. I had a low-intensity life then, and could really afford to date recreationally, but some people's schedules are too full and I certainly sympathize with cutting someone off right away because they're not going to be a match. My strategy was to keep it light. "I'm just in a place for seeing anyone seriously right now," became my mantra. This, of course, was abandoned as soon as I met someone who hit all the notes. This is all the more reason that people need to let people have their face-saving white lies on the dating scene. Because the other option—making them spell out why a commitment isn't going to happen—implies that the things they don't like about you are just objectively bad things. And for someone else, they may not be. For instance, a lot of folks don't give a flying fuck if you have shitty taste in music.
I'm certainly not trying to suggest that one should be looking for another pea in a pod, and in fact, I'd caution people to really think hard about what does and doesn't matter to them. Like, I have a lot of things about myself I don't have any need to have in common with a boyfriend. I've found that I don't care if the guy I'm with is a vegetarian, a sports fan, or a lover of books. I'm cheerfully indifferent to sports; I don't love them, but I don't hate them and I really don't mind dating a sports fan, but I've also dated guys who don't like sports at all. I find it doesn't matter any which way to me. I'm surprised at my own indifference to the books thing. As long as someone is smart and funny, I don't care that they're perhaps not a giant bookworm like I am. Part of that is that reading is such a private, idiosyncratic thing. Even if you are dating a bookworm, he's probably not reading what you are, and so discussing what you're reading in depth is still off the table. Now that everyone is online anyway, what you're going to probably have in common, private-consumption-wise, is websites and whatnot. Make the book thing even less important. Being open-minded is important, too. I basically never watched TV before meeting Marc, and dating him has turned me into a huge lover of television. So I'm grateful for that. Learning new things and picking up new habits is one of the fun things about dating, and I wouldn't say anyone should abandon that in favor of some checklist.
But you have a right to say no to stuff that's simply not negotiable. And women specifically are asked far too often to apologize for this, and we need to stop apologizing.