The morning after Election Day 2016, it felt like I woke up in a completely unrecognizable country surrounded by people who weren’t just on the other side politically but were actively against people who looked like me: black and female. These folks voted for a man who stirred an already simmering pot with his racist rhetoric, causing it to boil over, and bragged about using his money and fame to forcibly kiss women and grab them by their genitals. He was endorsed by David Duke (and it took days for him to denounce that endorsement) and routinely talked about women’s bodies and looks. Did I mention that, besides being disappointed and scared, I was also single? The world had changed so much, seemingly overnight, and I realized that finding a date in Donald Trump’s America was going to be difficult.
In the year since then, I’ve come up with a strategy for avoiding the new dating pitfalls given our current political climate. If, like me, you’re single and not batshit fucking crazy enough to have voted for the morally bankrupt, racist, sexist candidate in the presidential election of 2016, you might be wondering how you can start putting yourself out there to find a love match.
Here’s my advice: don’t.
That sounds bleak, but think about it. What would your first question be upon meeting a new guy? Here’s mine: did you vote for Donald Trump? If the answer is yes, we’re done right then and there. That alone has probably kept me from even bothering with anything like online dating, because that’s not just a no, it’s a hell no. But meeting men in person is problematic too. Number one, I keep way too busy all of a sudden. There just isn’t enough time in the day. But, number two, even the guys I tend to meet in progressive, socially active circles are still guys. I’ve had plenty of frustrating conversations with so-called male allies, especially in light of the avalanche of #MeToo posts. Men, y’all really don’t like to hear a woman say that you need to do better. You don’t like to hear about male privilege. I’m thinking some of you don’t even like hearing a woman’s opinion at all unless it aligns with yours. As a woman, I can tell you that living in America as it is today is exhausting (to be honest, it always has been, but this year cranked up the intensity to nearly insupportable levels). It’s hard to enjoy yourself with a guy when you’re busy giving nonstop lessons on feminism and race relations. At this point in my life, I’m not interested in push back on basic issues. If my vagina or brown skin keeps you from treating me like an equal, I don’t want to waste one or two dates to find that out. I’d rather we just not go out at all.
At this point, you might be asking: don’t you miss being in a relationship? Well, sometimes. But, like I said, I keep pretty busy. And, also, I’ve heard more racist and sexist shit in the last year than I’ve heard in the last fifteen years. I’m frustrated, I’m tired of the bullshit, and I’m not about to compromise on a single issue that’s important to me. I’ve talked to guys who don’t think systemic racism exists, who don’t think misogyny played a major part in the 2016 election, who don’t think that they contribute to rape culture in any way, who think that a woman speaking about sexism is divisive. These same men are quick to chastise a woman who speaks out, warning her that she’s chasing away ‘good men’ who might be her allies if she would just STFU about the inequality she faces based on her gender and/or color.
But I have no plan to STFU.
Here’s what I know about myself: I’d rather occasionally be bummed about not having anyone to snuggle and watch Netflix with than to be dating someone, even casually, who just doesn’t get that the world is simply a different, less forgiving place for women and people of color. We have a limited amount of time in this world. Why waste even a moment of it on someone not worth your time and energy?
And if any guys have stuck around long enough to get to this point, I can almost hear your retort: who would want to date you anyway (insert insult here about uppity black feminist)? You’re exactly right. Because I don’t shut up and I’m too old to compromise on things that truly matter to me. But I’m also too old to care that I’m not your cup of tea. I’m too busy being my own cup of tea.
So, my guide to dating in this new political landscape is to spend your time getting as comfortable as you can in your own skin. Only then will you know the things you can afford to compromise and those you can’t. For me, there are too many items on that latter list. But that’s okay. Being single is better than going out a few times and then finding out he voted for Trump, or that he thinks women just aren’t as smart as men, or that he flies the confederate flag and believes that the Civil War wasn’t about slavery. I don’t need that noise. I’ve successfully taken my own inventory and realized I’m just fine as I am.
Does that mean I’ve closed the door to dating? Sure, but it’s unlocked…