I’ve always been the rational, level-headed one of the friend group, the one who cringes at all things overly romantic but secretly keeps a journal home to my dating record – one with profound stories shared over the past decade. Don’t get me wrong – I love a good romantic novel. The kind that’ll ignite something in you, inspire your art or turn even the most logical thinkers into emotional feelers. But what is dating like for women in this day and age, truly? Equality in relationships has only recently been prioritised by many, and we as women have evolved to find our place and stand our ground, but I do think plenty of men have not wrapped their head around that – yet.
Let’s touch up on feminism for one moment. How many of us women have been personally targeted by male colleagues who felt intimidated by our success? The corporate work environment brought with it men who struggled to know I had been paid more than them, who continuously worked hard to spot any potential errors in my work. It was so tedious – almost unbelievable, really. And yet I thought I had escaped that toxicity once I’d left the male-dominated, corporate industries – only to find we as women are often surrounded by this very behaviour in our day to day lives. It initially perplexed me, to date men who somehow stopped supporting my career as soon as it kicked off. As soon as my client base grew, as soon as my salary increased, I had somehow lost a lot of support. In the dating world, women aren’t celebrated for their independence. And in a society as patriarchal as the Maltese, women are still expected to be the submissive partner. And believe it or not, women aren’t going to be applauded for bringing in the most money in their relationships. Women are capable of doing everything alone and recent years have highlighted that, but yet, as the films show, a man wants to feel needed. To provide. But I’ll continue to pay my share of the meal for as long as I can afford to date – of course, bar the surprise treats… I can graciously accept a gift and plan one too. This is not to say that all men share this mentality, that obviously isn’t the case – and I feel I should clarify that before I invite a shitstorm of responses. But where do we find the healthy balance in relationships today, at a time when feminism has never been more of a pivotal, highly spoken about subject? Are we as women still somehow expected to dim our light and swallow up bits of ourselves to fit in a man’s neatly-boxed idea of what an ideal woman should be – submissive and confined to outdated societal standards?
I don’t quite believe in ‘the one’. I believe a person can have multiple soulmates, but perhaps, today’s dating apps have caused me to be slightly cynical. The minefield that is modern dating invites texts that are copied and pasted to multiple chats, sent across to multiple potential partners. How much of online dating is more than simply an ego-boosting game is yet to be seen. I don’t really wish to diss dating apps as I have used them and have had much success through them, but they do welcome a superficial take on romance, don’t they? They’ve made things convenient for anyone with a lack of time on their hands, but they’ve also almost put an end to spontaneously approaching someone outdoors (excluding bars) and getting to know them prior to stalking their social profiles. Dating in the 21st century is lazy. Let’s retract back to a time when efforts weren’t cheesy or applauded, they were needed.
This day and age has also invited a new perk, however – sex is no longer a taboo subject for many women. Women are redefining their sexuality, speaking openly about a topic that was once shunned. It no longer revolves around pleasing men. And therefore, women’s expectations have increased – gone are the days when films could freely depict women as having been swept off their feet by the first man to come around; when just about any male attention would suffice. And so with greater information on the ready and greater confidence, women’s sex lives are only on an upward trajectory from here. Isn’t that wonderful?
Modern dating will have to embrace feminism, whether you’re keen for it to or not. But please, let’s not confuse equality and manners. Men shouldn’t be expected to pay for your meal, but either partner should hold the door open and never cease to walk alongside the other. Your feminist beliefs need not be conflicted, but they’re also not an excuse for juvenile comportment.