Friday, September 25, 2009

More on male entitlement in the dating scene

I was thinking more about entitlement this morning while I was on the train, specifically about why it's so prevalent in hetero-dating, and why some guys take rejection so badly (KB, not referring to you; more referring to some of the guys that KJ has tried to reject).

In our culture, men are at the top (white, straight, cis, upper-middle-class men especially, but when we're men and women, men rule). Men are promoted more often, get jobs more often, get higher pay. If there are more men than women at a college, it's normal, but more women than men is a crisis. Men aren't expected to do as much cooking, cleaning, laundry, or child-rearing as women are, and when men do participate in such traditionally female housework and don't completely fuck up, they're praised beyond measure. Men can have a family and a career, while women are made to feel as if they have to pick one.

And then there's male entitlement to women. But now, men aren't in charge. In fact, no one's really in charge; it's not as if there's a boss trying to decide who to promote, the guy or the girl. In hetero-dating, there's no boss. Either you both want to date, or you don't date. And while there are a ton of different social expectations and pressures that might shift the balance of power out of balance (for example, the socialized fear that many women have of being single), in the end, women have a lot of autonomy. If we aren't interested in going out with you, sleeping with you, or being in a relationship with you, then none of those things is going to happen, no matter how much you believe that you are entitled to any of those things.

Once again, I'm talking about mainstream hetero-dating and my experiences with it. I'm not even going to go near same-sex dating, not because I don't think it's worth writing about, or because I think it's less than hetero-dating, or even because I don't think my readers would be interested. It's just that I've gotten some experience hetero-dating, most of my friends hetero-date, and I've never, ever same-sex dated. So I don't know how male entitlement works in, say, a male same-sex dating scene, or whether there's entitlement between women when it comes to dating. I'm not qualified to talk about it.

Back to entitlement; how does it manifest itself?

From what I've experienced, it manifests itself in several ways.

1. Expecting a "Yes"

That means, expecting no rejection when sending a message/IM, when asking for a date, when asking for a second date, when asking for sex, and so on. That doesn't mean that if you hope for a yes, you're an entitled bastard. But when someone says, "No thanks," to your message, and you--oh, I don't know--tell them that they're shallow/stupid/a bitch/etc. for saying no, that's entitlement talking.

2. Expecting entertainment and equal interest

It's one thing to expect or desire equal interest in a relationship, but I'm talking about, say, a first IM conversation. I'm not the only person who's had someone IM her who says right off the bat: I'm bored; entertain me. Talk to me. And when you, understandable say no thanks? Yeah, you're the bad guy.

3. Demanding that you answer questions

Demands can be subtle. I consider it a demand when someone asks or tells you to do something with the expectation that you will do it. So when a guy messages me, promising that he's awesome and that my parents would love him, and then tells me at the end to feel free to tell him anything and everything about myself, that's entitlement. How else do you have the nerve to ask a stranger to tell you everything about herself? KJ doesn't just get crap like that; guys also demand that she tell them her ethnicity (no, really. They demand it. It's mind-boggling). Both of us have been "asked" to defend our feminism. lolnothanks.

4. Ignoring your preferences

Many dating sites have you to either describe the kind of person you're looking for, or to give some idea of what kinds of people you'd like to get messages from. So if I say in my profile, "Please don't message me if you're going to say things like 'how ru babe,'" I'm--surprise--trying to convey that I'm not going to be interested in guys who would say things like that. And yet when guys do talk to me like that, and I'm not interested, suddenly I'm the bad guy. I'm shallow if I reject a much older man. KJ is shallow if she doesn't want to date someone who lives two hours away. Basically, any woman is shallow if she won't date any guy who comes her way. Awesome.

5. Ignoring what you actually say

Sometimes, when someone says something that's disappointing, we might wish they had said something else. But you know what's obnoxious? When a person just ignores the thing you said that they didn't like and pretends you never said it. Context?

First conversation--
Guy: I'd like to take you out for dinner sometime.
Me: Sorry. I'm really busy.
Guy: I understand. Do you have a few hours free, say, Friday?
Me: Uh, no. I'm really busy.
Guy: I understand. Just a few hours. I know a great restaurant.
Me: Seriously, I'm not free.
Guy: How about Tuesday?

Now, you might say, "But Stephanie, you weren't being honest! If you don't want to go out with the guy, just say no thanks."

And then I'd point out to you that I'm still not sure why a guy I don't know is asking me out to dinner during the first conversation (yes, this actually happened, during the first and only 10 minutes of conversation I had with the guy because I blocked him). And this guy that I don't know not only thinks it's appropriate to ask me out to dinner after talking to me for ten minutes, but he also expects me to find time in my very busy schedule to have said dinner with him.

Was I busy or just brushing the guy off? Both. If I'd been on a date with the guy before and liked him, or if it were a guy I've been chatting with for a couple weeks and we finally wanted to meet in person, I would probably have said something like, "I'm really busy right now, but I think I might have some time next Thursday." Because at the time, I was actually, legitimately busy. Trying to study for finals, write papers, get ready for my last semester. I actually wasn't free for a few hours.

And if this were the only time a guy expected me to go out with him, regardless of what I was saying, I'd say, "Weird guy." But he's one of many.

Male entitlement is weird, probably because I don't get it. I've got privilege, that's for sure, but I don't think I feel entitled the same way that some of these guys do. I mean, I'm not really sure (privilege, I think, is easier to examine). But either way, I'd like to feel respected and not annoyed all the time while dating.

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