Dating While Feminist: Anatomy of an Intellectual Affair

30 Jun

Recently, I had a five-hour ice-cream date with an intelligent, ambitious, chocolate cutie, with friendly eyes and a great smile. Yep, I said five hours. He’s a great conversationalist, wonderful at asking questions, and pretty interesting himself. He showed genuine interest in my career, my research, and my recent career-related travels. He respects my intelligence, told me so in not so many words. Awesome, right? This is what feminists have been fighting for.

Yes. But these days me and my well-educated hetero feminist friends have two categories of male-female relationships, if we have them at all. There are those of us with intellectual affairs and those of us with just, um, affairs. Never the twain shall meet. I am in the first category, and let me tell you that the grass is looking much, much greener on the other side.

What, pray tell, is an intellectual affair? I’ve had so many of them, that I might as well have a Ph.D. in that, too. Intellectual affairs revolve around the episodic mind f*ck and they have all the potential to leave you feeling just as emotionally drained as an ill-thought sexual liaison. In an intellectual affair, your mind, rather than your body, is your biggest asset. That’s all the person wants you for—the amazing insight you have, the way you make them think differently, the advice you give. Ugh. Your body, however, get the short end of the stick.

Said affairs usually start like this:

You and a brother meet at an academic event. Perhaps you’re both guest panelists on some discussion about Black life, culture, or politics.  You hear what he has to say and think to yourself depending on your needs at the time,  “The brother is intelligent, articulate, and cute to boot.  I wanna get to know him better.” And if you’re honest, you probably also think, “Wow. He could get it.” The brother sees you and thinks (apparently, and I’m most certainly speculating), “Wow. She’s attractive and really, really smart. Probably couldn’t pull her though. I don’t have enough degrees [money, etc, etc].” There are basically three types of dude reactions in this scenario: dude A will ignore you entirely. Dude B the educated, but intimidated jerk will attempt to diminish you to make himself feel better. Dude C has hometraining and considers himself progressive. He respects strong, intelligent women. His mama probably is one. So he befriends you. For you, it’s the start of a beautiful friendship with tantalizing possibilities. For him, it is and will only ever be friendship, because he perceives that you are more intelligent and accomplished than he. And that makes you friendable, but not datable, and certainly not f*ckable. Why the two are mutually exclusive is absolutely beyond me.

So yes, just for today, I blame feminism for the particularly sucky state of my love life.  If you ride or die for feminism, you will inevitably find yourself in a kind of dating quicksand, knowing that you’re sinking, but absolutely unable to do anything about it.  I knew I was sunk after the first hour or so.  I had a strategy, which I had mapped out diligently with my homegirl the night before. She had said to me: “Now just let him see you. You don’t have to do all that feminist stuff right up front. I mean be you, but be the regular you. He’s already seen you be Dr. You. Show him the other stuff.”  However much my fellow feminist friends will find such talk problematic, I totally felt her, because these are the pragmatic issues of dating while feminist. So my alert went off when he kept asking me questions about my research. I really need to shift this conversation to something non-academic. And quick! Because otherwise, I’m going to be permanently in the homegirl—unwilling sage—big sister [by virtue of superior accomplishment] category before I can say the words P.H.D.

It didn’t work. Every attempt to express all the reasons why my love affair with the idea of a Ph.D. is over [numero uno being this whole terrible dating scenario, numero dos being the fact that I’m acutely aware in this moment of just how warm my diploma will not be keeping me tonight] led right back to discussing the Ph.D. Now that’s partially because the brother is about to embark on the journey himself. Commendable and attractive. But I’m not trying to be his advisor. If I was interested in a professional relationship, I would’ve invited him to office hours or lunch once the school year starts. But it’s the middle of the summer and at my invitation [because feminists aren’t afraid to ask for what we want] we’re having ice cream at 3p.m. in the middle of the week. Clearly, this is not a professional encounter.

So there we were talking about the plight of Black girls and boys [he used to be a teacher], the plight of Black men and women and what feminism has to say about it, the vicissitudes of the academy and how to last through it. But what I really wanted to talk about was anything but that. That’s what I get paid to talk about. Let’s discuss music, sports, dreams, sex, love, food.

As we walked to our cars, he told me that I had “given him some things to think about.” Famous last words. They mean, “you are the sister that I will call when I need some serious intellectual engagement without all the educated male posturing that happens among me and my boys. And after I call you, I’ll go call my cut buddy to handle everything else.” Sigh.

74 Responses to “Dating While Feminist: Anatomy of an Intellectual Affair”

  1. crunkista June 30, 2010 at 8:57 AM #

    Dear Crunkastic,

    THANK YOU for this! My favorite line, “But I’m not trying to be his advisor.”


  2. Fallon W. June 30, 2010 at 10:44 AM #

    Great piece!!! I have lived this story so many times that I might as well have a PhD in mental masturbation.

    This is so my story and have been wanting to write something like this for a while . . . thank you for expressing it with such humor.

    But, you forgot one thing they love to say, “Your so different” followed by, “You really challenge my thinking,” followed by, “You are indeed a good friend” meaning I may fuck you (once) just to see how it feels to fuck a feminist and hey I am man what can I say, but I will find a traditional feminine woman to be my wife. Sigh

    • crunktastic June 30, 2010 at 1:35 PM #

      @Fallon, I’m totally with you! In fact, I think I commented on a similar piece that you posted on your blog a few months back. And yes, I’ve definitely heard the “you really challenge my thinking” and “you’re a good friend” statements so many times. . .too many times. You know, I actually think this is a strategy for Black men, and another iteration of their privilege. They can claim to be progressive on gender by having loads of feminist friends, but they don’t have to deal with the implications of those politics in their private lives when they choose traditional women as wives. The man’s feminist friend is analogically to the white person’s black friend, the homophobe’s gay friend, etc., etc. It helps them to feel less sexist while not requiring any substantive change. It’s so damn frustrating…

      • susiemaye June 30, 2010 at 5:21 PM #

        “The man’s feminist friend is analogically to the white person’s black friend, the homophobe’s gay friend, etc., etc. It helps them to feel less sexist while not requiring any substantive change. ”

        Yes! Preach and teach!

      • Tony Williams November 5, 2010 at 7:18 PM #

        As a man-

        It can be frustrating when a woman labels everything as nonfeminist. I consider myself a feminist because I think it’s ridiculous that women would NOT be treated like men; it just doesn’t make sense. At the same time, I don’t really want hardcore feminism brought into a relationship, because I feel like it would just create more issues in the relationship –as if love wasn’t hard enough. I love a girl who is empowered and willing to dictate her destiny (and i LIKE women who know what they want) BUT I never want to feel like the representation of my partners arch-enemy in my relationship, because thats not fair to me as a person.

        I relaize I’m probably gonna get SOOO much hate for this, but what the hell, I’m a devils advocate haha

      • Tony Williams November 5, 2010 at 7:58 PM #

        I’m sorry, theres no reason for you to reply to my post, After reading more, I realize I just raised some of Dave’s points in a different way.

        Basically, all I’m reiterating is that it is hard to live up to the high standards that are often ascribed to us by all women, and when you add the pressure of constantly being judged on whether you are perpetuating a system of social exploitation, it just makes it that much more difficult to be interested in a relationship.

        Appreciate the dialogue, seems like you’re hosting a great blog here. Just trying to represent a male perspective to a vastly female audience 🙂

  3. Push Nevahda June 30, 2010 at 11:30 AM #


  4. Sweetilocks June 30, 2010 at 11:47 AM #

    Very well said. This was my problem for the longest, i.e. the college years. As if being intellectual means u can’t be sexual! Hated it! Keep ur head up girl!

  5. safire blew June 30, 2010 at 3:42 PM #

    i am currently working on a novel in which the protagonist is trying to puzzle out this very thing–how to be a feminist and f*ckable to black men. i am both a scholar and feminist, and while i have had some really intense ‘discussions’ with many prospectives along the way, i have also managed to add ‘serial monogamist’ to my chain of descriptors. so what’s my problem? a lot of what i have done to ‘get’ or ‘keep’ boyfriends made me feel like a sell-out. i have never downplayed my intelligence, fumbled an academic or employment opportunity, or engaged in sexual acts that weren’t consensual. i have, however, done a lot of the traditional ‘taking care’ of my ‘men’ that i swore as a young, ardent feminist, i would never do. while i do congratulate myself for realizing that i do not have to do these things, i spend a lot of time flagellating myself for doing them. i should have the passion, discipline, self-sufficiency to wait on a man that does not need to be enabled, right? yeah, i should, but the sad truth is, i don’t necessarily. i am a feminist; i never shrink from declaring that. however, i do fight with what i perceive as the rigidity of the rules and roles. i do not expect to wholly transform in my one little liftime patriarchal attitudes that have ruled male-female relations for centuries. i don’t want to be permanently relegated to ‘friend’ status. so what i do? i practice what i call user-friendly feminism. to my thinking, it keeps men from oppressing me, but it also keeps ideology from oppressing me. i do for and with men what i want if i am certain that i won’t feel drained, damaged, or diminished when we’re done. i do ‘menial’ labor if he is willing to do the same for me. if i want to be giving, nurturing, i allow myself to be. if i am moved to teach, guide, i do. i have coaxed guys with less education and money to give me a chance by taking those things off the table. we go dutch, live separately, and i never, EVER bother them about their schooling or work. i have helped men to improve their employment status or academic standing so that they can feel more comfortable with me. i know it’s more than a little problematic, and more than a notion for many women, but it’s worked for me. i’ve dated five really amazing, though not perfect, black men, each for two years or longer. i am currently in a nine-year relationship with number five, and we have a beautiful daughter who will be three in august. we still do not live together. we have flirted with marriage, but never done it. we only join our money together to care for our girl. we are both employed, and discuss work, but do not weigh in on each other’s career choices. we have both been students during the relationship, and we have never weighed in on each other’s academic choices either. unless asked. we love each other, respect each other, and share an intellectual compatibility that i cherish, even though i have a grad degree and he has yet to finish undergrad. it works, though it doesn’t look like anything most of our friends and family have ever seen, and they are not very accepting of it either. i have my own misgivings, but mostly because i have bought into the notion that i should be able to be my whole, big, bountiful self and be completely accepted by a man in a romantic relationship. i don’t know how true that is though. that said, i think you can have the best of both worlds. i just think you have to realistic about what it takes to have it. you may have to re-think what it means to stay ‘true’ to yourself. i mean, my self wants a partner. so shouldn’t that desire factor in somewhere?

    • crunktastic June 30, 2010 at 4:45 PM #

      Wow, Safire Blew! You have given me/us a lot to think about here. I think what you have described is the art of negotiation when presented with non-ideal terms. I think that is a totally legitimate way to go about getting the love you want. Few of us are willing to have a genuine conversation about what our ideologies look like in practice, about the rough edges of them that don’t fit in a society that is going along dragging and screaming with regard to gender equality. The reality is that it is tough to be totally feminist 24 hours a day. At some point, we find ourselves engaged in actions, that are directly linked to patriarchy. I’m not a sadist, and I refuse to torture myself about all the things I can’t change. I am simply committed to trying to work on the things I can. I wrote this piece, because I believe brothers can grow. And I wanted sisters to stop feeling crazy, when they get disconfirmed for bringing their whole selves into the room. I envy the fact that you’ve found a relational model that works for you, and I’ve said elsewhere that we are all gonna have to get much less comfortable with our expectations to find the love we want. For me the issue becomes about what happens when you merely stepping into the room doing what you do forecloses the possibility of connection. I tend to have it one of two ways. If the dude here’s me open my mouth and say something, I’m a friend. Until that point, he might just want to fuck, and shows absolutely no interest in any other part of my life or self-hood. That’s not an ideal situation for me, nor is it acceptable when I’m talking about partnership. In any case, thank you much for sharing. Good luck on the novel, :).

  6. Sofia Quintero July 2, 2010 at 11:41 AM #

    Crunktastic, thank you so much for writing this. Feminists of all races seem to be grappling with this, but as always, race throws another thick level of complexity to the matter. Instead of all the BS about the eligibility of Black women, this is where we need to go because it’s not about the institution of marriage but about the very human desire to experience love in this particular way.

    I’m not an academic but I do consider myself an intellectual,and I have found that these affairs can go beyond intellectual matters which is what makes these them all the more frustrating and even painful. IMHO, women of color who inquire, interrogate and otherwise lead lives of reflection tend to be incredibly self-aware AND compassionate. We take responsibility for ourselves and our lives even as we lovingly push those around us, especially the men, to think about life in more holistic terms. It’s downright sexy… and intimidating. Thanks to patriarchy, men want some of that yet can only stand so much. Hence, what I call doing girlfriend duty without getting girlfriend benefits.

    In other words, I’ve had several experiences of being able to talk about more than academic things. I’ve had that endless conversation about spirituality, healing, etc. I’ve been asked for advice about other than professional endeavors from family drama to existential angst. We will talk about everything EXCEPT who we are dating because I suspect these men understand that once I realize that I’m doing girlfriend duty without getting girlfriend benefits, I’m out – emotionally speak. We can still talk. But not like that. I mean, if we’re friends, we’re friends, and if the attraction is not mutual, friends we are, especially if the intellectual conversation is that stimulating. I need and want that, and if that’s all you can give me, i can accept that. But then the brother needs to accept that I will no longer be making myself available for intimate conversations while he courts and sexes another woman (and maybe he needs to think about why he can or will not discuss his anger at his father with the woman he’s sleeping with.) Patriarchy socializes or at least encourages men to compartmentalize their lives to their own detriment (some of this may be biological but not the extreme that they do), and we do them and ourselves a disservice by enabling it.

    Although we also have to be real and call out that some men may be intellectuals, but that doesn’t make them any less opportunistic and predatory. That is, they will string a woman along to get what they want. Some men lay on the charm for sex. Others will give scintillating conversation and heap on the intellectual flattery (’cause we feminist are particularly vulnerable to the need to have our intelligence acknowledged and affirmed) hoping to get professional support, access, etc. I’m not saying that all who do this necessarily know they are doing it. But some of ’em do, and we don’t need friends or lovers like that.

    I’m grown and can get past an unrequited crush to build a true friendship just like I want the men who are romantically interested in me but that I don’t want to date to be mature enough to do. But I have made a decision several years ago that I’m not engaging men at this level of intimacy if there’s a mutual sexual chemistry. It doesn’t matter to me if there might be a “good reason” why he’s not stepping up at that moment. It doesn’t change the fact that he’s NOT stepping up (or being forthcoming about the sexual attraction and why he’s not acting on it), which already tells me, that for all that I may dig about him, he’s not for me. This homegirl is too grown to be thinking she’s going to be the stuff of a Vanessa Williams ballad, lol!

    Since setting these boundaries, I have found that I no longer find myself feeling used by such men and that I can enjoy the relationship for what it is – a friendship. It doesn’t close the door on a romantic partnership in the future. But since I’m not invested in that particular outcome, I can appreciate what we have for what it is. And I avoid another disappointing experience that scars up my heart when I need to keep it open.

    But this something that happens to women who aren’t feminist, too. It’s just that being a feminist takes it to another level of intensity. The ideas that set us apart from other women make us both attractive and frightening to some men. That’s what’s most heartbreaking about it for me — there are brothers who are evolved enough to appreciate these things about us and to express it. Yet too many still cannot or will not take on the challenge of building upon a more “comprehensive” attraction. It’s not only sad for us but them, too, because aren’t we women, too? We are no less capable than the cut buddy of providing the kind of sexual, emotional, spiritual, etc. nourishment that womanhood can offer.

    So a big question is do such men really want this. Are they really interested in taking the time, thought, energy and risk to create a different kind of relationship? In the end, does their male privilege matter more to them the promise of a romantic partnership that something far greater than just a kindler, gentler patriarchy. Some men definitely are, and they are not necessarily in the academy, identify as intellectuals (although they may be just as well-read, inquisitive, etc.) or otherwise in the business of the production of knowledge. In fact, the most strident walk-their-feminist-talk men I have encountered have NOT been academics. Things that make you go hmmm….

    • crunktastic July 9, 2010 at 7:29 AM #

      Sofia, your comment is very powerful. “Doing girlfriend duty without getting girlfriend benefits”! Yes!! So so true! You have helped me greatly in thinking through the necessity of solid emotional boundaries. I also think you are right that this is a cross-racial, feminist and non-feminist phenomenon. But when you’re feminist you recognize the social implications of it, know you’re being exploited in a particular way, etc. Of men you ask, “are they really interested in taking the time, thought, energy and risk to create a different kind of relationship?” That is the question. I know a few who are or think they are. But when the going gets tough, male privilege is an omnipresent bailout plan. But surely there are thoughtful brothers out there who recognize that no one benefits from conducting love in a context that reinforces oppressions. To be honest, I don’t know but you’ve given me much to think about. Thank you for that, and for reading.

  7. Dave July 8, 2010 at 2:30 PM #

    Sigh….as a heterosexual, smart man (raised by a woman who raised and loved me at the same time), who truly wants to understand it is really getting hard to figure out what women want. It is hard to see what this man did wrong. It is hard seeing a motive other than friendship and I think some of the comments are reaching to find a parallel. This is not the white guy with the black friend, I don’t think.

    I read this blog and I know it is filled with insight from some of the best and brightest but here is something. We all need to evolve our thinking. All of us. Our president speaks of change but like a young person told me when an unarmed man was shot by a cop not long after the election, change is not lop-sided. It really is possible for men to find you intellectually wonderful and think you are cute….fine even….without ever wanting to sleep with you. Why? Does it matter? The reasons are not owed to you any more than they are when the situations are reversed. It is even possible for a man to recognize that you are intellectually ahead of him and actually desire you or at least be so comfortable in his masculinity that it does not dusty his manhood. Its not that deep and it does not require a lot of analysis (maybe over analysis is part of our problem dating today).

    A lot of men are walking on eggshells trying not to be the jerk or the sexist or any of the things that can get us rejected and it (dating/relationships) is a lot easier when you feel like you do not have to avoid so many pitfalls. It’s not all about being afraid of commitment or a feminist. Most men I know will only settle down with women who stands up for herself and I’d like to think that is at the core of feminist thinking. If it is not please excuse me, I am learning.

    In the name of finding peace in a world without a lot of space for it, in a world where we (black men) are met by skeptics across the board, easier and less complicated usually wins in the areas we can control, and our relationships are one of them.

    I say all of this as a black man who is now 7months removed from his last meaningful relationship. I have sexually been inactive since then because I really want to figure out what is being asked of me in relationships….because after 20 yrs of dating it is not clear anymore and it becomes more unclear when sex is involved. No cut buddies either….cut good and it usually gets a lot more complicated.

    Being in the place I am, I have found one thing: A lot of women have a hard time dealing with a man who is not in a rush to go there with them.
    I am fine with this because I have learned ALOT about women by dating his way.

    I am encouraged by the comments by safire blew as I think she is on to something that very few woman (other than writer Joan Morgan) are talking about openly. Hopefully her words and others will spark up a new conversation. But honestly for the men out here who have no desire to dominate a woman, who have no issue looking you dead in your face as an equal (degrees and all) and who really want to understand in a world where many of us who may one day be responsible fathers of (gasp!) daughters, it is becoming tougher to figure out what is being asked of us. Call it weak, caught in the patriarchy, whatever. The bottom line is that we are not finding each other because of it and a lot of solid men are feeling this way and throwing their hands up.

    Once again I enjoy reading your blog and I will pass this one on to male friends of mine.

    • crunktastic July 9, 2010 at 7:23 AM #

      Dave, thanks for reading and for your thoughtful comments. I hear your confusion, and to be honest, I don’t really have the answers. What I can tell you is that all of the men who have responded to my post here and elsewhere have said exactly what you’ve said. That the guy had every right to simply approach me as a friend, to like me for my intelligence, to not be sexually attracted to me, and to not need to justify his actions. All the women who’ve responded you’ll notice, however, see my side. So here’s the thing. If it were just one or two experiences, that would make sense. But I’m talking about this being a continual dating pattern for me and a lot of other highly educated women. I’m talking about women who regularly meet guys but rarely ever get any play, and the dudes are always saying the same things, “You’re so smart; you challenge my thinking, etc. etc.” If good conversation and genuine connection have no bearing on solid romantic relationships I don’t know what does. And I think that for many men, they would rather cop-out and declare their right to like whomever they want than to consider the possibility that a whole class of highly educated women are being passed over precisely because their intelligence makes them less desirable as partners. I’m not presuming this to be your motivation. But I have had honest well-educated feminist male friends share with me that dating intelligent women is tougher, that those interactions demand a justifying of one’s decisions in ways that dating more traditional women does not. I’ve had many men tell me that what they want in their homes is peace, that they don’t want a battle. This is always the answer they give after they have encountered a particularly intelligent and articulate woman. I read this as an emotional response to the perceived threat that a woman who speaks her mind and is willing challenge a man’s thinking represents. So as a feminist, what I’ll tell you is that when I have many women telling me the same thing over and over even when we’ve never met, I’m inclined to believe their experience and not to engage in these individualist paradigms about the nature of male attraction. Because the reality is that men have been socialized to expect particular things from women and socialization is also connected to emotions. So when I and other women continue to encounter dudes that we can have deep emotional and intellectual connections with and we consistently watch those men go and date other less-well-educated, less articulate women, while they return to us for substantive emotional and intellectual connection, something is going on and it deserves to be questioned. However, if that’s not what’s up with you, then you shouldn’t feel implicated in the critique. What I have encountered repeatedly however are the highly intelligent brothers who (claim to) want highly intelligent sisters, who engage us for a range of emotional needs that are generally reserved for intimate partner relations, but then consistently put us in the friend category. This is what Sofia Quintero is speaking of in her comment. You should go back and read that one. In any case, I’m sorry I’ve not offered any answers to your questions, but I genuinely appreciate you for thinking through the questions and concerns I’ve raised here.

      • Dave July 9, 2010 at 8:52 AM #

        My last reply,

        We have all been socialized to want certain things from each other. Perhaps men are more prone to socialization. I will look into that.

        I would never claim that this is not a problem for highly educated women. It seems that if a man dates you, sister, there are expectation that many men you have met can not meet for one reason or another. As a man who wants no part of dating or relationships until I understand what is being asked of me and who has his own expectations that seem to be hard to meet I understand to some degree.

        But since you can offer no answers for what seems like a major concern and problem in (black) men and women meeting each other (Not a critique of you. No one talking about these things is offering answers.), it will be tough to find a solution to this problem….and we obviously need to.

        Speaking of socialization, did you step out of the traditional box with this man? In other words, knowing this has been an issue, did you ask the man? Since we can not assume that he saw you as a romantic option, did you ask him why he did not see you as such? Did you ask if your intelligence and capacity to challenge his thinking keep you in the friend-zone and if so why? If he is a man who indeed respects you, he would not judge your asking and he would be assertive and unflinching in replying. And even if he did find issue with your asking it should not be a concern.

        As a man who has been put in the friend-zone by women who claimed I was an intelligent, charismatic “good guy” and that I treated them well and that I was boyfriend/husband/father material, I ask so that I can be self-reflective and work on me if I feel it is necessary. Not saying you need to be self-reflective and I understand the argument that I have billions of wonderful women to choose from. But if I do not ask when friended (new word) I risk not evolving and I risk applying adjectives to these women that may not be fair or that may not apply.

        As a man I have female friends who are highly intelligent/educated and head-turning attractive that I do not want to have a relationship with and I wonder if they think I am weak because I am attractive, bright, capable of handling their resumes, and very cool with their friendship. In some cases I know enough about their relationship history that I know we would not work out and in others I do not want to ruin a functioning relationship in the name of romantic possibilities. In any case, if this is how they feel, I would like for them to confront me about my “short comings” so that I could look them in their faces and set the record straight, politely of course.

        So did you confront him?

  8. crunktastic July 9, 2010 at 11:17 AM #

    I did not. We did however have a conversation near the end of the date that was a reflection on a conversation that occurred at the panel where we met. During that panel, I took to task a guy who made the statement, “we should let men be men and women be women.” This got the brothers in the audience all up in arms and led to one guy attacking me and calling me adversarial because I had challenged the panelist. In that very moment, I stopped my comments and did a poll of the room and said, “who in here thinks I’m being adversarial.” Almost all the dudes did (this was a Black graduate student panel.) None of the women did. And I said to them in that moment, ‘if there were two men sitting here having the exact same exchange, you would consider it vigorous intellectual discussion. Because I’m a woman you say I’m being adversarial, even though I have disagreed intelligently and logically w/o resorting to name-calling, male-bashing, or unreasonable displays of anger.” To this the men said nothing. So during my date, we revisited this incident, and the guy said to me that he understood the other guys position, and he said that it was like, “a dude had worked really hard to make something of himself out of unfavorable circumstances. And then he comes along and meets a sister who has achieved even more. That dude would be intimidated.” In that moment, I told him that I would value that brothers accomplishments, that they didn’t have to match my own, and that it bothered me that this was the perception of out of the gate that I would be so elitist and that said perception had previously adversely affected my dating life To that he replied that I had “made him think differently and that he would take it into consideration in the future.” Let me also just say though that all the dudes who have responded continue yet again to make this about how I might have done something differently on a date. Who goes out on a date and challenges a person for not being attracted to them? That is fairly unreasonable and certainly wouldn’t achieve the desired result. But anytime a less privileged group points to something that is happening systematically, the more privileged group (in this case men) point to all the individual idiosyncrasies of the situation. Well maybe if you had just done this differently, your date would’ve turned out differently. You keep assuming that this date is my only experience of this type. It isn’t. I’ve also confronted men in the past about this. It is a recurrent struggle. Like I said, scroll up and read the comment about Sofia Quintero. She breaks it down in a useful way I think. Also I happened to read another blogger I follow this morning, and thought of your comment. Perhaps this chick will be somewhat useful to you in your own dating issues:

    Also, I’m not interested in having bunches and bunches of confrontations where dudes can tell me all the reasons they don’t want me romantically. I want someone to want me, since I know I am wantable and bring a lot to the table. And I refuse to engage in Tyler Perry-esque rhetoric that says that if nobody wants me, it must be my never-ending internal issues. It simply isn’t the case. And I’m introspective enough that I’d own it if I was.

    And for the record, my argument is not that men are socialized more than women. Not at all. My argument was about how the particulars of male gender socialization make men emotionally respond to certain types of women, namely those that feel safe and not threatening (with the caveat that equity in intellectual exchange feels threatening). For women, an example would be those women who love bad boys because on some emotional level they feel those men could “protect” them and we’ve been socialized to seek the security of men who could defend us even if the cost for being with a bad boy is not worth the benefits.

    Anyway, thanks for the dialogue. I do, however, think I’m done since being asked by our male readers to further justify something that I feel I have very little control over is itself kinda discouraging.


    Anyway, thanks for reading.

    • safire blew July 10, 2010 at 8:50 AM #

      i can completely relate to the scenario you replayed in your post, crunktastic. and i have a narrative of my own to share, in the same vein.

      a woman friend of mine–master’s degree in social work from university of chicago–is cut buddies with a man who has just received his master’s degree and in the process of applying for doctoral programs. she hasn’t had a boyfriend in over five years, but she is hesitant to become serious with her “friend.” she has her reasons. she’s working and he isn’t. she has her own place and he is living at home (more affordable for a student). he’s a few years younger. she’s attracted to him, but thinks that he should be further along in life.

      she talks to me about it. i can’t really understand her dilemma. he has two degrees and is going back for a third. he lives at home only to save money. he is not subject to any restrictions in terms of his comings and goings. she has an apartment, so they have a private place for intimacy. they are intellectually and sexually compatible. she makes a very generous wage, and they are not living together, so there’s no need to pool money. what’s the problem?

      she maintains that a man must be on her exact level in order for a partnership to work. i tell her, in the spirit of user-friendly feminism, that accomplished black women have to be realistic (pragmatic?) about their expectations for their male counterparts. since we have such a profound understanding of how certain socio-cultural and political forces have impacted black women and men in america, we have the tools to comprehend and contextualize the discrepancies we see in how black women and men fare in mainstream society.

      she says no. that’s not work she should have to do. he should understand her misgivings and do something to abate them.

      i tell her that she’s perfectly entitled to her thoughts and feelings, but i get off of the phone with a new understanding of why she has’t had a boyfriend in five years. again, it’s that whole concept of the rigidity of feminism.

      that brings me to the panel and your dilemma, crunktastic. a few days after my friend and i talk, her buddy asks her to look over a personal statement he has written for a school application. he is obviously proud of it, and i think attempting to impress her as well as show that he respects her opinion. instead of recognizing the gesture for what it is, and getting off intellectual duty so to speak, going into girlfriend mode, she completely rips the thing apart. she marks every grammatical mistake, and then engages in a really intense argument over her corrections in which she 1) insults the black college from which he got his undergrad degree, 2) wonders how he obtained his master’s degree with such abysmal writing skills, and 3) literally pulls the ‘elements of style’ off the shelf to show him just how wrong he is.

      when she tells me about this, i am really appalled. and i am an english instructor by profession. i ask her why she felt obligated to do this. just because she knew better didn’t mean it was her job to tell him. that as the girlfiend, you should gauge situations in which you are being asked your opinion, and always opt to offer support and validation when you can do it without sending your significant other into a bad situation.

      someone else could have told him that, i said. it didn’t have to be you. it shouldn’t have been you. he won’t want to talk to you after that. you’ve belittled and embarrassed him. in that moment, it didn’t matter that he was wrong. it didn’t matter how smart you are. it wasn’t about exercising your power. it was about intuition, trying to give him what he needed on an emotional level. validating him rather than yourself. which is what you sometimes have to do in a relationship, whether you are a feminist or intellectual or not.

      again, she said no. he was wrong and should have been secure enough to take her criticism. she was adamant.

      i said ok. of course, she didn’t speak to him again for months. and when he was finally able to face her again, she was closed to him. he’d lost her respect. washed her hands of him.

      this is where i see one of the fundamental problems with dating while feminist. at the panel, you were right to speak. you were right to probe. you were right to question. that is what those types of events are for. you paid for it, but in that setting (the battlefield), you expect to be fired on. you expect some minor injuries. you’re a soldier, and it comes with the job.

      i just wonder, though, if when we step out of the battlefield, we remove enough of our armor to relate romantically to the men we want. i’m not saying that we should dumb ourselves down, but we have to make the difference between a date conversation and an oral examination. i don’t necessarily think that feminist theory on the ground is flexing on a dude anytime you can, just because he’s wrong. i don’t. it’s cliche, but you really have to pick your battles. i do think it’s valid when men say they want peace in their relationships. and i think that there are some feminists–some women period–that need to examine why they do not seek the same.

      hear me out when i say peace. not passivity. not silence. not submissiveness. harmony. which means to me giving what’s needed in a way that’s healthy for you and your partner. when someone needs support, and you give criticism, it isn’t healthy. when someone needs criticism, and you crucify them, it isn’t healthy. i’m not advocating lying or pretending. but i am saying that you don’t necessarily have to be changing the world with your every word and action in the context of your relationship. at some level, you need to be loving this other person. and that can’t and shouldn’t always be polemical. sometimes, you have to resort to the alchemy of love. which can make change, no matter how infinitesimal, in a person’s heart and mind.

      just something to think about…

      • crunktastic July 10, 2010 at 11:49 AM #

        I hear you and agree. I’ll refrain from commenting on your girl, other than to say that I don’t think her expectations are about feminism, but about her “expectations.” Period. And let me be honest in saying that, they don’t call me “crunktastic” for nothing. However, those who know me well, know that unlike my public persona which is hella fiery, always impassioned and ready to do battle with any and all comers–unapologetically, my private persona is all about peace, calm, and minimal conflict. You can’t be crunk (at least my brand of it) 24 hours a day. It isn’t healthy. I think most folks will find that I am extremely affirming, supportive and encouraging in my interpersonal relationships. This is why I have found myself doing “girlfriend duty w/o getting girlfriend benefits” so very often. I also try to have a healthy relationship to my achievements. They are not my identity, they are not my companions; they are credentials that enable me to do what I love. Period. But loving someone and having them love me back can’t be taught in a classroom, and I don’t dare assume it can. I think with lots of dudes, their fear is that every educated achieving woman is like the friend u mentioned, and many of us are, because our achievements have become a place-holder that we think exempts us from doing the work of having good character, being emotionally healthy and secure, and having a proper self-perception and view of ourselves in relation to others. My mother told me as a child, “school isn’t everything.” I balked at her then, but I know very well now what she meant, and I try to integrate that particular truth daily.

  9. Joan July 9, 2010 at 12:23 PM #

    First, thanks so much for sharing this story. I posted on both my FB pages and I was not surprised that it got so much empathy.

    I was thinking about it last night, first over cocktails with an absolutely fabulous new girlfriend (5 hours), then with a less new friend — male, not-platonic—and who our first face to face encounter was about a 5 hour coffee. I’m pretty sure I made sure to let him know that while I was seriously enjoying our exchange that I also made it fairly clear that my interest in him was not purely of the intellectual-artistic-comrade variety somewhere around the two hour mark. Why?

    Because as a 45 year old single, working mother time is probably my most valuable resource. 5 hours worth of time with anyone in my life but particularly a new person is not a feeler, it’s an investment. It’s time away from long-established friendships, my child, my work and my family.
    It’s sharing my solo time, which is always too short and too infrequent.The reality of my time is that I don’t have time. I make time.

    And frankly, I don’t have 5 hours to give you feel it out. So while I hear and empathize with the frustration (trust me, been there and done that) I would say that one thing I’ve found particularly helpful is setting some boundaries for myself. Unless there’s been a whole lot of lead up conversation prior, an hour or two is enough time for a first date. It’s usually enough time for both of us to suss out if there’s a mutual attraction and for me to see if the exchange feels balanced and reciprocal enough for me to continue to make time in the future. And if it is I usually make it clear that I’d love to see him again, but I put the ball totally in his court to schedule and plan the follow-up. Why? Because it forces him to articulate why he’d like to spend time with me again and spend some time planning how to make that happen. I’m more than worth it.

    And so this is the thing Crunktastic, you are too. I mean that and not on some ol’ Oprah self-esteem talk show shit. 5 hours of getting to share your brilliant mind is a privilege. Plain and simple. Fuck, I feel privileged to get to share 15 minutes with via your writing. So I’m going say this really straight-forward and with love: Value your time Sis.

    Giving 5 hours of your life to a stranger who at that point, hasn’t really done anything to earn it, is too much. What does it say to him about how much you value your time, your brilliance if he can just waltz in a command 5 hours of that it for the entry fee of cuteness and an ice-cream cone? An hour or two yes. 5 hours, he’s gotta earn. In increments.

    I think that as women, beautiful, brilliant and feminist women, we sometimes feel as if we have to apologize for that triple threat fierceness with acommodation, with the appearance of being really easy and zen about our shit so that we don’t seems so threatening. And it leaves us frustrated with so many of our needs unmet — i.e episodic mindfucks and empty beds.

    Being a mom to one of the most engaging, magical, brilliant, emotionally intelligent examples of the male gender has made me value my time in such different ways than when I was married or dating prior to having him.
    Giving him 5 hours of focused, non-multi-tasking attention is hard, rare and something I have to fight for. So I do. And it is always worth it because I leave that exchange richer and better and stronger. At this point in my life, I expect no less an even exchange from any man I’m making that kind of time for.

    Because real talk? I’m know damn well that 5 hours with me and you’re going to leave feeling richer, sexier, stronger than when you came. I need to walk away feeling the same.

    I’m pretty sure the same goes for you Brilliant One. So value your time. And value you.

    • safire blew July 10, 2010 at 8:57 AM #

      wise, wise words… i absolutely believe in giving, but only what is deserved or earned.

  10. crunktastic July 9, 2010 at 1:56 PM #

    Thanks, Joan! I really needed to hear that and I hadn’t thought about it in quite that way.

    “I’m know damn well that 5 hours with me and you’re going to leave feeling richer, sexier, stronger than when you came. I need to walk away feeling the same.” How did you know? Lol.

    The brother told me that he walked away feeling more enlightened and thinking of things differently and even that he would use the “advice” I gave in future romantic interactions. But. not. with. me. So I definitely walked away feeling like I had invested a lot but not gotten a return. Now I’ll just have to be more intentional about giving my time the value it deserves and in so doing requiring that same level of value from others.

    So again, thank you much for this.

    • Dave July 9, 2010 at 3:57 PM #

      I didnt go to grad school and now I am starting to think I missed out on some exchanges. Can undergraduates attend any of these function?
      I’d ike to observe.

      I am sorry if I seemed to ask you for justification, sister. You need not justify anything to anyone. I am aggressive through nurture. Asking questions forces him to confirm why he is in your face. If he is not going to do so on his own you should prompt him to. As Ms. Morgan said better than I ever could time is valuable.

      You’re obviously intelligent, on your game, and from what I have read you do not seem to be asking for much. My mother taught me that if someone can not handle your justified questioning they can not possibly be the answer and they are not worth your time. As a man I dated that way; I needed to know what I was getting in to and what was expected of me ASAP.

      And thanks for the link. Seriously, sister, seriously….the way I dated, I could have wrote that post and that’s why I am single, reading, learning, and trying to figure it out.

      Thank you for responding and I apologize. Stay strong and stick to your guns.

      Ms. Morgan, I am a HUGE fan of your writing. I read your book in ’98 fresh out of college (and on the train in front of everyone too). It was a gateway to other readings and forced me to rethink a lot of things. I pass it on to all my most valuable male and female friends and young women I find myself mentoring. Blessings, good luck, and continued success to you.


  11. ashoncrawley July 9, 2010 at 5:30 PM #

    well all of this dialogue has just been wonderful!

  12. Joan July 10, 2010 at 7:15 AM #

    @ Dave. Thank you. I appreciate that. Greatly.

  13. dantresomi July 10, 2010 at 7:56 AM #

    (Raises hand)
    So I can’t make intellectual women friends? Like most people, I enjoy intelligent conversation with anyone… the more, the merrier.

    I do have male friends who will tell me that when they meet a sister on that level, they are actually trying to figure out if the sister likes them or not. Of course, my response is JUST ASK!

    One thing I will say, is that many men, many many many men from all walks of life have problems expressing themselves especially when they like someone. And many of them, seem to wait for something to happen. I wish more of us would MAN UP ….

    • crunktastic July 10, 2010 at 11:35 AM #

      Of course you can. Just don’t ask those friends to do “girlfriend duty without girlfriend benefits,” quoting Sofia.

  14. ajhayes July 10, 2010 at 8:40 AM #

    Great blog. This is my first visit and I’m pleasantly surprised. I usually find myself in the “intellectual affair” category, as well. Even some well-educated women are intimidated by my intelligence, although I never matriculated through college.

  15. moyazb July 10, 2010 at 9:01 AM #

    I’ll add my two cents as a queer polyamorous woman whose recently realized (with the help of a good therapist) I’ve learned to compartmentalize my relationships. I have 3 categories of relationship a. physical/sexual/doing stuff/going places, b. intellectual/political, and c. emotional/spiritual. Over time I’ve learned to put relationships into these boxes and for me myself personally, a and b don’t do a lot of overlapping. I think I actually seek out relationships where there isn’t a lot of overlap because that feels safer to me. Why? That’s next week’s session 🙂

    However, not a lot of people feel that way. I think in general women have been socialized to want to have these categories integrated within there relationships. People in certain categories (in my case particularly folks in category a) feel objectified. They are only getting a piece of me (pun intended) when there’s a lot more to me and to them than one dimension. I’ve been told that this is a very masculine behavior; I think men are socialized to do a similar kind of compartmentalization. In particular, I think the emotional spiritual side of men doesn’t get an outlet in heterosexual romantic relationships because men aren’t supposed to feel. I’ve even heard some feminists say that they still expect protection and a certain level of stoicism from dudes that doesn’t seem to leave much room for men’s vulnerability. CFC Renina is talking about this on her blog here

    I wasn’t doing this compartmentalization consciously but now that it’s on my radar I’ve been thinking about how and if I actually want to change it. While a lot of people prefer more integration, I don’t know that I do and I don’t know that that’s a bad thing. A lot of the people that I have deep intimate soul searching intellectually engaging convos with who are beautiful and handsome, I don’t want to have sex with and I wonder if that’s b/c of my own pre-set divisions or me really listening to my desire.

    I say all this to say that I really echo Joan’s call to get what you want and need out of relationships. If it’s one sided and that’s not working for you, you don’t owe him to stay in that dynamic that’s not working for you.

    • crunktastic July 10, 2010 at 11:29 AM #

      Wow, Moya B. I’m definitely feeling you on the compartmentalization thing, and I’ve been thinking through that too. Sometimes I think that we can’t have just one person to fill our emotional, spiritual, intellectual and spiritual needs. Frankly, my relationships with my female friends do a lot of the emotional and spiritual and intellectual work I need and I tend not to expect the spiritual and emotional stuff from men. I see that that is very gendered. I think it is a legitimate question about whether or not to desire integration. For now, I think I still do, in part because an integrated man seems to be the only type of man that my feminist self could have a productive relationship with. But I’m being forced to reimagine my relationships in ways I never thought I’d have to do as an early 20 something, so we’ll see if I stay on the same track I’m on now.

  16. filmfemme July 10, 2010 at 10:17 AM #

    My head hurts after reading this, and others have expressed what I’ve wanted to express. Thanks.

  17. EMB July 10, 2010 at 11:02 AM #

    Crunktastic– thank you so much for setting it off. Joan and I were talking yesterday and she reminded me that I hadn’t weighed in– these are exactly the conversations that help us have healthy relationships (and pleasure!) in an unhealthy world, so here I am.

    The wisdom shared by everyone here is golden; I love Safire’s “user-friendly feminism that keeps men from oppressing me, but also keeps my ideology from oppressing me”– I can relate to that, as a now happily married woman who for years struggled to reconcile my brain with my booty calls.

    Love also Sofia’s girlfriend responsibilities without girlfriend benefits. And Dave. I appreciate a man who’s honest enough to know he’s not ready for a relationship; he’s set boundaries, and it’s our responsibility to set ’em too, as Joan says. I’ve been on both sides of the equation– I’ve enjoyed the benefits-of-the-boyfriend-without-gf-responsibilities as long as man x is willing to give it up without getting any.

    It may sound mercenary, but we’re all adults here, and it’s on us to step away (or at least step back) when the relationship isn’t fulfilling our needs. I’ve also tried suppressing my own needs in order to spend time with someone exquisite who wasn’t feeling me (or my booty, to be more precise). Not good.

    To me, feminism is about knowing thyself. As crunkista so eloquently put it, we all have “unfeminist” moments, be they on the dancefloor or in the bedroom. Asking for what you need even if it doesn’t fit neatly into your ideology is crucial. Unlike Joan, I don’t care if the dude makes the first move post hang out– but if that’s how you feel, don’t call him for political reasons. It may haunt you later. On the other hand, it may not: my dealbreaker was that I needed him to walk me all the way home, no questions asked.

    Or that was a dealbreaker until my first hang out with the hubba hubby, who didn’t walk me home. I was so not feeling him, but we got over it because he learned quick, groveled early and often, and because I now have a great awkward first date story for the grandkids (and my girlfriends, who always tease him about it). BTW on our first encounter we hung out for a good 4 or 5 hours, he talked at length about his ex and didn’t walk me home, but there was enough chemistry to make it worth seeing what happened next (with some cajoling from my best friend). You never know. A factor: that first night we danced Cuban son, and I own my appreciation for a fine man with fine shoulders. He had ’em.

    Reading Crunktastic’s post, I realized: I have only dated one man who identified himself as a feminist. I’ve never dated an academic. Probably the only dating rule I’ve (mostly) followed is to never mix business and pleasure. I haven’t dated in the hip hop industry, cause I was a hip hop critic– had a lot to do with the perception of women as groupies, but actually worked out well for me for other reasons. Even though I bonded with industry dudes over our shared love of Smoothe da Hustler, I dated civilians (some of whom shared my knowledge of obscure rap lyrics, some of whom didn’t). Not sure if this is analogous to your academic universe, but I have found that having the same intellectual geography (in your case academic, in my case musical) isn’t always as important as it seemed to me at first (for a time, if someone didn’t have “Illmatic” in their top ten list, I couldn’t hand).

    Turns out that my feministo numero uno was also committed to fighting the patriarchal, colonizing oppression that is monogamy– and told me so (thankfully, he wasn’t dishonest about it). I’m not against polyamory– but I am against coerced polyamory, which is what happened with us. Homeboy was an old school player in a new school package. He was also my first love, and a very instructive lesson for me that language is less important than behavior. I’ve found that most dudes I’ve fallen for (from writers to accountants to ex-gang member teachers to activists, many activists) may not have the language of feminism, but are more open to it than you might think.

    Most of my major relationships have been with Latinos, and certainly there have been challenges, especially with jealousy (on my part too). But just like I’ve grown in those relationships, I feel like they have too. For me, it’s helped to keep a sense of humor when doing feminism 101, and/or to remind him that your liberated sexuality is one of the many hot byproducts of being a liberated woman. In most cases our breakup didn’t have to do with my feminism, except I guess for the one dude who wanted to start a fight with every man who looked at me on the street. To be honest, at first this was kinda charming (as Moya says, we feministas really need to look at our unconscious traditional expectations of men; hard not to have ’em in this world).

    It stopped being charming, partly because it took too long to get places, and partly because I realized that it wasn’t coming from anyplace good. His masculinity was so fragile. But I’m happy to say that I’ve seen him since and he has chilled out and we laugh about how he was on a path to a heart attack before 40– feminism is just healthier for everybody, right?

    So here’s my feminist fairy tale come true: My husband didn’t call himself a feminist when we met. He didn’t come in a Che Guevara t-shirt (like so many of the dudes I’d fallen for before). He hadn’t read the books that changed my life, he didn’t take a women’s studies class in college. But without ever doing a panel or hoisting a placard, he’s doing the right thing more than so many men I’ve encountered who talked the talk (particularly in my activist universe).

    He’s white, and despite the fact that I’m the product of a mixed anglo-Latina marriage, I never saw myself shacking up with a non-Latino. He’s a man of privilege who recognizes that inequalities are unhealthy for everyone– including the privileged. Well before we met, he came to that conclusion. He was an athlete who had access to groupies, but chose fulfilling relationships over instant gratification. (Most of the time– I can’t be mad at him because I’ve indulged in groupie love a few times myself).

    He also recognized that his emotional stuntedness, reinforced by the locker room world he lived in, was hurting him as much as it hurt the women he was emotionally unavailable to. So he did the work. And when I met him, he was the foxiest feministo I had ever encountered. In the seven years since then, he’s schooled me more than a few times. He’s also supported me, cooked for me when I was on deadline, cleaned the house, taught me to drive, and challenged me when I’m swaggering too much to walk the walk. He’s not perfect– I still check him sometimes. But more often than not, he checks himself.

    I know I got lucky (in more ways than one). After the exquisite man who wasn’t feeling me, I took a few years off from relationships to mend. When my love showed up, my heart was ready, but my eyes weren’t quite. It took time for me to recognize that he was it– had to step outside my expectations because he doesn’t look like my type (he’s French/WASP, but don’t worry, he can dance). We’re not moving to Colombia to start an organic farm. He doesn’t go to every protest with me. This isn’t my imagined romance revolucionario. But it’s real love, and I like to think that’s revolutionary.

  18. crunktastic July 10, 2010 at 11:34 AM #

    EMB, you, my dear, have set it off, :). You said, “Language is less important than behavior.” Let the church say, “Amen.” Lol. I’ve dated and encountered so many men who had the language right and the actions all wrong. I also think of my stepfather, a conservative minister who is married to my mother, one of the most radical feminist women I know, though she wouldn’t claim it. He’s been my best lesson, that sometimes the dudes who get it the best, don’t come in the packaging you think, so thanks for reminding me of that. And your statement, “when my love showed up, my heart was ready, but my eyes weren’t quite,” is perhaps the thing I most need to hear right now. So thank you, thank you. Real love is indeed revolutionary.

    • EMB July 10, 2010 at 12:07 PM #

      thanks crunktastic… and apologies for writing so long! I just totally took advantage of the no word count Internet thang. But really– consider looking outside the academy at whoever catches your eye. My man is a lot more than what he does for a living (hope I am too!)

  19. Alma De Cobre July 10, 2010 at 11:50 AM #

    In turn (after A very nice blog) may I state that brothers can be in a dire strait of sorts if it’s encountering a sister with these feminist qualities. I may be way out of place here (being male) but seeing that success seems to be what drives the black woman, or any woman that desires further education and socially-equal opportunities, most men that are intellectually available feel threatened by this empowerment that, in my opinion, can also be used to belittle or one-up the person in a stimulating engagement of a conversation.

    I met a sister maybe two months ago (or so) and she was so amped and incredibly, mentally sexy I was overwhelmed. She is straight forward on uplifting both black women and men, and dares the social injustices to combat her sense of unification and the support of black businesses and community. She’s continuing her academic finds at PSU later this year. Could you imagine, someone like me entertaining the thought of trying to hook a beautiful sister with such a mind? It’s always going to be “brain-bang” because of the dynamics. Sometimes you just meet someone where everything is so intellectually stimulating, refreshing, and encompassing that you even physically crave some type of reaction. But the barriers we present ourselves from previous exploits of the faux-educated succubus of men who seek nothing but your worth to mimic a stepstool to his ego hampers the playing field. It’s as if once women overcome or overstand their power and potential, men are not as receptive… They feel as if they are window items at the mall. Price-tagged for experience and commodity. What a swing, eh? Imagine if this was a porblem for men years ago. I love the blog, but trust, I feel those out there on both sides of the fence. Hope I didn’t offend or confuse!

  20. eeshap July 10, 2010 at 12:50 PM #

    Just chiming in to say thanks, Crunktastic. Your openness, honesty, and willingness to make space for challenging conversations is a gift to us all.

  21. Nellafitzgerald July 10, 2010 at 2:25 PM #

    Crunktastic, that you so much for this post. It has given me so much to think about and has sparked quite a discussion amongst a few of my peers and I. I was slightly reluctant to reply to this blog post albeit I found it absolutely fascinating. I suppose I was thinking that I am sitting on the outside of this conversation. I just recently graduated from undergrad and while I am headed to graduate school in the fall, with just an bachelor’s degree, I don’t feel that I am in the position to say that anyone is threatened by my intellect and certainly not by my career.

    Then it occurred to me a similar dynamic as the once Crunktastic describes has been happening to me since I was old enough to take interest in the opposite sex. Until about the last 2 years or so I had been dumbing myself down by carefully selecting discussion topics and tailoring conversations to ensure that whomever I was dating was not “lost” or didn’t think that I was being too esoteric or weird. My last boyfriend was BET and I was NPR. I could function on his level, but he didn’t have the capacity to rise to mine. Wanting a more engaging partner…someone with more intellectual prowess and wit made me feel like an elitist then subsequently guilty so I stuck around.

    Finally I began to understand that I deserve to have a man who stimulates me and helps me to grow as well. I have just begun to be comfortable with demanding that the men in my life be as intelligent and engaging as I and like Joan said, it came down to valuing my time and knowing my worth. When I became a single mother an a full-time student no longer did I feel it necessary to portray myself as someone without strong opinions, specific relationship requirements, and a wealth of knowledge. I just realized that this response doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the initial post. My apologies. :-/

    Also I am just beginning to identify as a feminist, although when I look at my life in retrospect I realize I have always been. I am grateful to women like those belonging to the CFC and Joan Morgan for giving me voices to identify with.

    • crunktastic July 10, 2010 at 2:35 PM #

      It sounds like you’ve got stuff a lot more figured out than you give yourself credit for. And yes, I don’t think we do anyone any favors by not bringing our whole selves to the table. If we do that, in some ways, we are engaging in false advertising. Anyway, thanks for reading and for your insightful comments. We appreciate your support, :).

  22. nqgeech July 10, 2010 at 3:27 PM #

    This was so on point. I am currently doing my residency and dating is hard (yet doable) as it is. I still have too many conversations with my friends that are physicians about our unwillingness to reveal to potential mates that we are doctors until we know that they are comfortable with us. What amazes me is how my male physician friends are quick to drop that MD title in the first 5 minutes of conversation!! I am still amazed when I ask male friends what they are looking for in a woman, they are qualities that I, pretty much all of my female friends, and I m sure, you, possess. So why am I still out here dating? It’s like a sista with a brain, a lover of life, and everything in between is some sort of an oxymoron. Why must those driven be perceived as asexual, uninteresting?

  23. Maximillion July 10, 2010 at 3:51 PM #


    First I congratulate all of you on your accomplishments and hope that you find what you are looking for. I must say that in MY OWN opinion you are delusional.

    Men and Women are both insecure by nature. Generally men want to be the leaders of the household and have their women/family depend on them, Highly educated women pose a threat to men because of the likely ego battle that will ensue. The fight that will end with… “I don’t need you because: I make more than you, I’m smarter, better/more educated, already own my own home, etc.” All of the apologies in the world will repair the broken ego after this point.

    Yes the male ego is fragile! So is the female ego! Relationships are about compromise. I guarantee you that if your man doesn’t feel like you need him to survive, he wont be your man for long. Knowing that someone actually needs you can be a very attractive quality IN A RELATIONSHIP. I say too many times that it seems like the (black) women of today are too concerned with telling us to “PUT A RING ON IT” and less concerned with telling us “I WANT TO BE YOUR WIFE.”

    FEMINISM is a noble concept but to sound cliche’ you cant have your cake and eat it too. Submission is key to a good relationship, from both parties. Just like all of your success, advanced degrees, and money will not keep you warm at night a man wants to be taken care of. Unfortunately you ladies have been misinformed, Men do not want to marry their equals/betters. We can admire you and respect you but its not going to end in marriage. I myself HATE when women don’t showcase their femininity. Meaning wearing dresses (not all the time but sometimes) and make-up… I’m sorry but I am looking for the opposite, ascetically, of myself.

    Your terms may be unreasonable. The women that men usually settle for might just want it more than you.

    • crunktastic July 10, 2010 at 5:33 PM #

      Maximilian, beyond being negative, contrary, and unhelpful, what as the point of your comment? You can disagree with us w/o disrespecting us, especially since we haven’t disrespected you specifically or black men in general. Stop projecting what are clearly YOUR PERSONAL insecurities onto the entire human race. How narcissistic! Not all Black men think like you, Thank God. If you are actually interested in being informed check out Mark Anthony Neal’s New Black Man or Aaronette M. White’s Ain’t I A Feminist? Black Men on Fatherhood, Family, Relationships, or Natalie Hopkinson and Natalie Moore’s Deconstructing Tyrone. If reading isn’t your thing, check out Byron Hurt’s Documentary on Black Masculinity, “Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes,” Luckily there are a whole lot of brothers exploring what it means not to practice the kind insecure, dangerous, smug, oppressive masculinity you speak of here. Also let me be clear. As our mission statement says, “Crunk Feminists don’t take no mess from nobody,” so before you comment again, think better of it, and if your comments are gonna be along these lines, do us all a favor and keep your opinions to yourself. They certainly aren’t helping anyone.

      • Maximillion July 10, 2010 at 6:45 PM #

        Dear Crunktastic,

        Allow me to apologize for being disrespectful. My aforementioned statement of being delusional was uncalled for. Also thank you for recommending works of literature and media to better educate myself as I continue to follow this blog. I will certainly reference supporting literatures in the future.

        After reading many of the replies to the posting I noticed that some of the contributers mentioned that they realized that they didn’t have to take care of a man and even had swore as a child that they never would. (Saphire Blew) I strongly disagree with this statement. I believe that its natural to lose some identity when entering into a real relationship. Each partner should care for the other in whatever dynamic the relationship calls for; compromise.

        Marriage unites two people as one, therefore anything you do for your self you should be more than willing to do for your partner. The point that I attempted to was that guards must be lowered and mistakes, mishaps, & oversights must be overlooked in the name of love.

        As a black man I would like to know that my woman will be a supporter of our struggles and not remind me of the constant pressures that I face everyday in the world. Couples will fight, but at the height of the argument will the knock-out blow come in the form of: “I don’t need you because: I make more than you, I’m smarter, better/more educated, already own my own home.. or will it be “Crunk Feminists don’t take no mess from nobody,”

        Thank you for acknowledging one mans opinion. Youre example of how to properly disagree with the opposite sex should be applauded. While you may find my views smug and oppressive (I disagree); I thank you for not discouraging me to continue to get to know you or comment further on this blog.

        … Oh wait????

        Peace and blessings Sista

  24. Sofia July 10, 2010 at 5:46 PM #

    Only thing missing from Maximillion’s rant was, “… And you will blow me first.”

    • crunktastic July 10, 2010 at 5:56 PM #

      Lol! So true!

      • safire blew July 15, 2010 at 9:24 PM #

        i also take issue with maximillion’s reading of my first response because while i said i vowed as a young feminist not to “take care” of the men i got involved with, i learned as an older, wiser feminist that “taking care” is a crucial part of love relationships, and the key is to make sure that you are not allowing yourself to be exploited in the process. when critiquing, careful readings are key. that’s all i’m saying…

  25. crunktastic July 10, 2010 at 7:15 PM #

    Maximilian, your statements are loaded down with assumptions about the natural roles of men and women, which feminists in general, myself included, totally reject. Just because we are born with certain genitalia does not mean we should be wed to traditional gender roles. My vagina does not mean that my purpose in life is to be the servant of any man. However, no feminist would argue that in a relationship we shouldn’t take care of our partner. I know plenty of happily married and partnered feminist women, whose partners, be they men or women, feel “taken care of.” The difference is that the care is mutual care, and it isn’t based on what the woman should do because she’s female or the man because he’s male but rather what works best for the two of them as partners. Black women have always been down for black men even when you guys have decided that the oppressions you deal with out in the world necessitate that we (not your) women serve your every need at home. Such thinking is bullshit because it assumes that Black women are also not dealing with racism, and sexism, and classism when we walk out the door everyday, too. I’m amazed at men who actually think that women want to go to work all day and then come home and fight. But just like you came out of the gate talking crazy a bit ago and then getting upset at the notion that I refuse to entertain it, many men assume that women should put up with their B.S. in much the same way. When we refuse, we are branded as unloving and unsupportive. If that’s how you choose to see it, so be it. I reject the notion that the only way to love you is to let you put your foot on my neck each and every day so you can feel like man over something or someone. For further discussion of such thinking, pick up Joan Morgan’s “When Chickenheads Come Home to Roost” and read her chapter on Strong Black Women and Endangered Black Men.

  26. BlackLizLemon July 10, 2010 at 7:24 PM #

    @Maximillion: “Steve Harvey, is that you?”

  27. BlackLizLemon July 10, 2010 at 8:00 PM #

    Also, in what cases does a woman actually say, “I don’t need you, I’m smarter than you, etc?” Am I missing something? If someone says that,whether they’re male or female, then they don’t need to be in any type of relationship, period. Yeah, I’m not buying that.

    • ashoncrawley July 10, 2010 at 8:15 PM #

      projecting is a hell of a drug? lol

  28. susiemaye July 10, 2010 at 8:17 PM #

    Wow. I step away from my computer and all heck has broken loose.

    Feminism, especially of the crunk variety, is not about sitting around and agreeing with everybody. It’s about being honest, asking ourselves hard questions, and being able to listen to what is difficult, while also remaining respectful of others. I’m thankful to be able to dialog in a space that promotes that.

    That being said, feminism is about being forward thinking as well. I’m not trying to shut down Maximillion, Steve Harvey, or any other person I disagree with down (ok, maybe Steve Harvey because he is a blight on my soul); however, the course of this conversation has been moving into deeper and richer territory and then we get taken back into a really retrograde argument that, as Crunktastic put earlier, doesn’t really move the conversation forward.

    I just want to add the words of a sister writing about the issues between brothers and sisters in 1970. Unfortunately, the words ring true today as they did 40 years ago:

    We’d better take the time to fashion revolutionary selves, revolutionary lives, revolutionary relationships. Mouth don’t win the war. It doesn’t even win the people. Neither does haste, urgency, and stretch-out now insistence. Not all speed is movement. Running off to mimeograph a fuck-whitey leaflet, leaving your mate to brood, is not revolutionary. Hopping on a plane to rap to someone’s else “community” while your son struggles alone with the Junior Scholastic assignment on “The Dark Continent” is not revolutionary. Sitting around murder-mouthing incorrect niggers while your father goes upside your mother’s head is not revolutionary. Mapping out a building takeover when your term paper is overdue and your scholarship is under review is not revolutionary. Talking about moving against the Mafia while your nephew takes off old ladies at the subway stop is not revolutionary. If your house ain’t in order, you ain’t in order. It is so much easier to be out there than right here. The revolution ain’t out there. Yet. But it is here. Should be.

    I understand that Maximillion with the whole language of submission and all that make not necessarily seem to jive with what Toni Cade Bambara what talking about in “The Black Woman,” but not unlike the brothers of the Black Nationalist Movements referred to above, his logic is based on patriarchy being the panacea to gender troubles. It’s an old, less than useful answer to the persistent dilemmas in intimacy. We need new paradigms, not the same old tired song and dance. And we need to be able to talk each other respectfully or else nothing will get done. Then again, I’m always down for doing a crunk driveby* on somebody.

    *(Crunk driveby involves rolling up on a poor, antifeminist soul and sharing feminist literatures with them. Mostly. Lol.)

  29. Ananda Leeke July 10, 2010 at 11:12 PM #


  30. Tonysha Johnson July 11, 2010 at 10:36 AM #

    Crunktastic, where have you been all of my dating life!? 🙂 I came to this post by way of the Facebook status/share of a woman I attended college with. The title ALONE spoke to me more than anything I’ve read in the last six months–and I read so much it’s obscene. I’m immensely pleased that you chose to share this with us!

    I’ve always said that I believe it’s impossible for men to see me holistically, especially if they happen to be men with whom it is possible that I could be involved romantically, i.e., age, education, attractiveness, progressiveness, humor creativity get checked off on my little mental list. Either they can’t see past my thoroughly liberated sexuality to engage me on a less “primal” plane (and always have to be somewhere precisely four minutes after they ejaculate and will call me later…yeah) or they only engage me on a highly intellectual plane and never act upon any sexual stirrings our engagement may produce in them (and think that it is appropriate to seek out my advice on how to win the heart of some materialistic idiot who uses them financially and/or shits on their adoring supplications and/or already has a man and/or is as common and insipid as that huge bag of animal crackers that no one ever seems to actually buy at whichever discount store you frequent most). It is an incredibly frustrating, perpetually unfulfilling, and plain old fucked up place that I found myself in far too many times in my twenties. And unlike some of you ladies, who for whatever reason have never been privy to why things couldn’t just evolve to a more healthy, symbiotic, loving relationship–my dates have been very vocal about why it just wouldn’t work out. Here are a few highlights:

    -“You have a lot of books…for a woman.”
    -“You are an elitist.”
    -“You think you’re so superior to everyone.”
    -“My mother says you’ll never submit to me in the way that a good wife must.”
    -“…I mean, I don’t have all of your degrees, but I still think…”
    -“I think that our political beliefs and values are too far apart for us to be more than friends.”
    -“I have never gotten along well with highly intelligent women.”
    -“You over analyze everything. Can’t you just take things as they are sometimes?”
    -“Have you actually read all of these books? Don’t you like to have fun?”
    -“I mean, I care about you, but she’s just more fun than you.”
    -“I knew that eventually the money would have gotten in the way.”
    -“Did you mean it when you said you only felt a relationship with you would work if the guy also had a college degree?”
    -“Do you always have to disagree with me?”
    -“So, you don’t own ANY high heels?”

    It’s maddening! I’m now 30. And somewhere around month eight or nine in my twenty-ninth year I decided that I really didn’t want to bring all of the allowances I made, compromises I struck (which were not the healthy kind), and wishin’ and hopin’ and thinkin’ and prayin’ and plannin’ and dreamin’ that I could SOMEHOW worm or finagle my way into the heart of one of my beloved intellectual affairs into the next decade with me. For so long I just KNEW that I could get a man of this ilk to first mind-fuck me, then literally FUCK ME, and finally to fall in love because how can you not when the convo is so good, the head is so otherworldly, I can cook my ass off, and am a sweetie to boot…when we aren’t in a debate or something.

    Here’s the even more fucked up part–whenever I meet somewhere new and we’re neck deep in one of those initial, skin-tingling, pantie-wetting, neuron-firing conversations, I am inevitably asked “How could someone like you possibly be single?” And answering truthfully is tantamount to ordering the steps of this new one right into the steps of the last ones. (*Sigh)

    I think I’m done. I don’t have any answers, I am just so happy to see that I’m not the only one who hides her degrees in a box in the storage closet (kidding…mostly–they certainly aren’t on a wall anywhere) and who fears the word friend like it’s a junkie chasing after me with a bloody needle. I can’t really hide my accomplishments because when you come to my house you can tell that I’m comfortably in the middle class all by myself, and when I open my mouth to speak (even if all I’m doing is ordering a slice of pizza) my intellect is apparent. My profession confounds the matter. My alma mater uber-confounds the matter. a glance at my shoes alone “exposes” my feminism. The lyrics of the music I love are even intimidating…or so I’ve been told. With men, it seems, in the context of romance, I can’t win for losing. Just by virtue of the fact that I am who I am, like what I like, have done what I’ve done, read what I’ve read, and speak as I speak. When every part of your existence seems to emasculate, intimidate, antagonize, and chastise black manhood, it’s really fucked up. I just can’t figure out why I’m not looked at like I’m a prize, rather than as an affliction.

    Thanks for letting me share…vent…cosign your post. I will definitely be back to read more!

    • ashoncrawley July 11, 2010 at 4:21 PM #


    • crunktastic July 11, 2010 at 5:55 PM #


      You are a woman after my own heart. I laughed out loud as I read this. I felt your pain and frustration on so many levels. There’s so much I could say, but just know instead that I found myself shouting “YES!” every few words or so, especially at that list of ridiculous statements. Perhaps, it is better not to have them tell you, because all that right there is simply crazy. Anyway, thanks for your support!


    • Nellafitzgerald July 12, 2010 at 8:57 AM #

      Wow! You looking for a girlfriend?? lol Just kidding, but you definitely sound like a gem and for someone like you it will take an extremely secure, strong, and confident man to show you the appreciation that you deserve. No worries, the best things are worth waiting for and with such an impressive rap sheet and dope sense of humor you’ll be properly booed up in no time! Thanks for the post. It made me laugh out loud several times and I could definitely relate to that list of weak ass comments and questions. I’ve heard many of them myself. repeated. for years. lol take care 🙂

      • Tonysha Johnson July 12, 2010 at 6:37 PM #


        Thanks for the confidence and the good wish vibes out into the universe that I will be “properly booed up” soon! I certainly hope so. Summertime is usually not this dry of a season for me. 🙂


        I’m glad we’re “here.” B/c I’m looking at some of that going on below and have somehow missed how someone could read your post so incredibly…just wrong. Ah well. People see what they want to see and read into what they want to read. 🙂

  31. Sofia July 12, 2010 at 8:12 AM #

    Yellow Mary, first I want to affirm that, yes, the kinds of behavior you’re describing that women continue in the workplace – whether they identify as feminist or not – is egregious and ongoing. I doubt anyone here (even brother Maximillion, I hope) would not say otherwise. I hope that you’re not experiencing that at this moment.

    That said, I disagree with you that what Crunktastic’s post has raised in this post is not a feminist issues. Feminists of all political leanings and social backgrounds – gay and straight, men and women, etc. – have explored and discussed the way gender politics have impacted the personal realm including sex, dating, parenting, you name it. One of my favorite feminist bell hooks has recently written no less than four books about love including WILL TO CHANGE which looks specifically at the different ways that patriarchy has robbed boys and men of their human need to love and be loved.

    I took Crunktastic’s post (as well as the bevy of emphatic responses) to be just one, recent example of what is an ongoing issue for many women beyond the academy. In my own post, I even proposed that it goes beyond intellect. Hell, not every woman with a degree is a feminist and not all feminists have a string of letters after their surname.

    I looked at her willingness to share a personal experience in an online forum as a modern continuation of the feminist legacy of consciousness-raising. I’d even argue that, thanks to a combination feminism and technology, it seems like consciousness-raising has hit the mainstream to some extent. And to some extent, that mainstreaming has been both a boon and an detriment. One way it has been detrimental has been the ongoing ignorance of or the willful violations of the rules of engagement when conducting CR — any kind of productive discussion really – -and that is the commitment to civility.

    I’d also add that Crunktastic took consciousness-raising to another level precisely by NOT doing as you suggested and keeping the conversation to a small group of girlfriends. I think it took guts to be this vulnerable and open herself to all manner of comments from folks who are sympathetic or not, compassionate or not, willing to challenge her in ways that may or may not be loving.

    I found Dave’s comment to be both challenging and loving. He was honest about his feelings about Crunktastic’s piece. He was self-reflective first about why that was so before pushing back. He came in the spirit of win-win dialogue, shared his own experience and asked questions rather than make assumptions and leap to conclusions about Crunktastic or anyone else who posted here. As women make gains toward equality, the ever-shifting ground has turned personal relationships into a large damned-if-you-damned-if-you-don’t for EVERYONE. Not just men but women, too, and that is why this is feminist issue and we need to come to it with compassion and respect for each other regardless of our positions.
    If you want to raise the question of whether there could be something simpler and more individualistic going on in Crunktastic’s scenario, I think that’s fair and could be useful. As we reflect on experiences that cause us discomfort, it can never hurt to step back and give oneself a thorough but compassionate gut-check, and sometimes we need to take the risk to share the experience with others and get their insight even if they might say things that we don’t want (but perhaps need) to hear.

    But doing so is not giving the greenlight to be condemned. When I read your comments, my initial reaction was, “Damn, she came at Crunktastic like SHE was the cat who’s chased her around the sofa in the employee lounge.” The assumptions, conclusions, and tone really undercut what might have been a valid consideration. It’s cool to have another angle on the issue and express it, but what is to be gained from coming at a sister like that? Off of one post, you don’t know her like THAT so I don’t understand why you were so strident in your contempt. Why is there ANY contempt at all? After all, just because she chose to share this particular experience doesn’t mean she’s a stranger to the egregious workplace misogyny that you raised. And it doesn’t mean we can’t have a conversation about that. We should, it’s important. But how is that conversation going to happen now that you have chosen to express a dissenting opinion by belittling another feminist and potential ally? Your pushback might have been helpful had it not been delivered in such an unsisterly fashion.

    Look, Yellow Mary, I am so with you on what seems to be an increasing exploitation of feminism by patriarchal women when it suits them. I’m wondering if that is at the heart of your post. I recognize I might be wrong so do let me know if I am. But if I’m right about that please know I hear your anger. I SHARE it. We ultimately may have to agree to disagree if whether Crunktastic’s experience is a feminist issue, but I’m pretty confident that no one who has posted so far (including Dave but perhaps not Max whose first post was anti-feminist AND unnecessarily antagonistic) is guilty of jumping in and out of feminist movement based on whether it suits their personal agenda. Still it’s a basic tenant of feminism that the personal is political, and one application of that is not to trivialize another woman’s challenges or attack her (whether she calls herself a feminist or not) simply because we may not have that particular experience. A lot of White women have been doing that shit to us for decades, and I don’t think Toni, Audre, Pat, June, bell, etc. would co-sign.

    HOW we interact with each other, regardless of whether the reason for the interaction is about feminism or not, is itself the stuff of feminist praxis.

    • ashoncrawley July 12, 2010 at 9:39 AM #

      mmmmmmmmm!!! i’m not Crunktastic…but as her ally, i say … THANKS FOR THIS REPLY! good shit…

    • yellow mary July 12, 2010 at 10:17 AM #

      i misplaced my reply, please find it below

  32. yellow mary July 12, 2010 at 10:02 AM #

    thank you for the thoughtful response

  33. yellow mary July 12, 2010 at 10:11 AM #

    and when i say it’s not feminist i am NOT, not saying that the personal is not political. of course it is. i say it;s not feminist because i just don’t see an injustice here that has to do with our identities as women or feminists. I am sensitive because in my experience in academia I have been on the other side of this– being actively sexually pursued and penalized by men when I reject there advances, or even been tricked into having conversations with men under the auspices of a professional endeavor, only to find that a “book chapter” was not exactly what he wanted to share with me. These unwanted advances have actually impeded some of my advancement and like many young black women I am often written off as an intellectual colleague because the primary interest from straight men has been sexual. It triggers me to sweep up a man keeping it ABOVE the belt as a feminist issue. Isn;t this what we want? To be taken seriously for our minds? Conversation that doesn;t lead to penis is not a mind-fuck or an injustice. Men have a right to not have sex with whomever they choose. There is no exploitation here. I’m not buying this idea that men are using us for our minds and then disregarding us sexually. It actually offends me that this would even be considered seriously by a community of feminists. It also reeks of heteronormativity– that men SHOULD be interested in us sexually. Does no one else see a problem with this? FEMINISM DOES NOT LOWER OUR SEXUAL DESIRABILITY. THE MALE DICK DOES NOT READ BOOKS.

  34. Joan July 12, 2010 at 10:16 AM #


    Thank you for your eloquence and your patience. It allowed me to throw out my first draft of a a response which was considerably more straight BronxGirl Feminist and admittedly no where near as conducive.

    Yella Mary’s compartmentalization of feminism into something that clearly does not encompass sisterhood, engendering healing, safe spaces for women to speak honestly about our ish, or figuring out the daunting task infusing our feminism in not only our principles and activism but in the way we live our lives is not one that I agree with. And that’s cool. We’re grown ass women and we’re not always going to agree.

    However, the nastiness had me straight pulling off the proverbial earrings and reaching for the Vaseline. Or should I say reverting to a feminism I’ve practiced since I was 9 years old, which means you should really think quite hard before rolling up in this piece and coming for me and mine. Sisters are free to disagree but when one of us is being attacked then you roll hard for each other. Period.

    And this was an attack. Unkind, unproductive and unwarranted. Even worse, it was couched in language that was dismissive, at times callous and clearly not motivated by a sisterly, genuine desire to see Crunktastic grow.

    But you handled it Sis.

    Putting my earrings back on.

  35. yellow mary July 12, 2010 at 10:24 AM #

    Forgive me for what came off as an attack. I have had particular experiences with real live sexual harassment by straight male academics that make this issue disturbing for me. That being said, I stand by my point, if not my tone. Tell me where the injustice is here, tell me where this entire 5 hr icecream scenario stands counter to the aims of our politics and I will be on board. Until then I am not. Because the other side of this is what many of us more frequently experience and the other side of this– actual sexual exploitation by men in our field– is much more dangerous and hurtful. Sure, we can talk about these issues within feminism, but at some point we need to ask what we’re reifying here, which to me seems like some hetero bullshit. I.e. “i took him to icecream midweek at 3pm, wasn’t it CLEAR i was expressing interest and why couldn’t he just be enlightened enough to respond accordingly?? Woe is me i HATE being taken seriously!”

    That’s wack.

  36. susiemaye July 12, 2010 at 11:26 AM #

    Thank you Sofia, Joan, and Ashon for your comments. I have appreciated your honesty and respect in the above dialogue.

    Crunktastic and I started this blog so we could have productive feminist dialogues where we could agree, disagree, learn, and grow in a dynamic community. The point is not to have an amen choir stroking our egos; however, none of us writes the deeply personal and political stuff that we do to be simply dismissed. We truly desire feminist conversation (and action!), and I think we’ve accomplished that in the few months the blog has been up and running. Taking a look at the long thread above reveals that a series of ongoing conversations are happening online and off–conversations that are important and need to be heard. Comments that attempt to stifle, silence, or otherwise undermine the project and community we have going on here will not stand. Period.

    Thanks for the love. Thanks for the challenging comments and questions. But if one’s intention is to shut down dialogue, please keep it moving.

  37. Aisha July 15, 2010 at 2:50 PM #

    I cosign the comment by “Safire Blew”.

    also, I basically want to ask…
    What made this an ice-cream “date”? I don’t think I see what made this encounter a “date” in any capacity. Could it just be that he was networking & that there wasn’t any attraction in the first place? I’m glad this was written because, there are PLENTY of homophobic, patriarchal men staunchly devoted to maintaining their position of power & oppression. There are plenty of other men enjoying the “benefits” of patriarchy not ready to confront oppression. And there are plenty of men who claim to oppose patriarchy, but deep down want to enjoy it and they just want a feminista in his corner. I know some men like this, and I know many more exist. But from the way in which this post was written, with this specific story, it looks like this man was never sexually attracted to the writer. A non-mutuality in attraction can be for a variety of things – including a basic lack of physical attraction. At the end of the day, I think the issue *here* was that the co-panelist was simply networking. I also find it somewhat demeaning that the writer would be so quick to throw all men in three categories. There are enough men out there trying to find ways to oppress us in the hopes to maintain their power. Presuming that this man is either power hungry, or thinks he is intellectually inadequate as a feminist ally ignores one basic biological tenet–> People have sex with those they are sexually attracted to. Throwing non-attraction on the “I’m too smart and I’m too hardcore of a feminist” bus is a cop out.

    all in all, I am glad to see us discussing this. I agree with some points Yellow Mary made – as a black woman lawyer, I fight daily to remove sex from the conversation I have in court, with my clients, with my colleagues. But unlike Yellow Mary, I am not so ready to compartmentalize feminism in such a way that ignores the possibility of patriarchy & oppression in withholding sexual advances. I recognize the possibility, and from the looks of it, it aint here. The man is just trying to get into a PhD program & keep some good contacts in his corner. Be proud that he appreciates you in that way!

  38. Janeisha July 15, 2010 at 4:24 PM #

    “”So here’s the thing. If it were just one or two experiences, that would make sense. But I’m talking about this being a continual dating pattern for me and a lot of other highly educated women. I’m talking about women who regularly meet guys but rarely ever get any play, and the dudes are always saying the same things, “You’re so smart; you challenge my thinking, etc. etc.””

    I have a problem with this statement you made here, Crunkista, because it’s unfair in a number of ways. 1) I don’t think there is a pattern in terms of FEMINISM turning men off. I agree with @Aisha above that this was not a situation of him being turned off by you being a feminist, he doesn’t seem to have ever been turned on in the first place, which is fair, and it happens to all of us!

    So this is my problem: 1) he met to talk about grad school, you talked about grad school, and yet you’re blaming sexual rejection on presumed knowledge he has of your inner political core or presumed disinterest he has in feminists. I think that’s so unfair to assume he would be turned off by feminism! That offends me as a feminist. 2) I think its exceedingly naive to think/presume that deep intellectual discussion should ignite a man sexually. While I do think that some men can certainly be disinterested in having a relationship with women who don’t politically see eye to eye, when discussing sexual attraction I think it’s unfair to presume a pattern here. I think as smart women we really want to believe that men will fall in love with our minds- AND THEY OFTEN DO!! But not being attracted to us is not a rejection of our minds or our politics. That’s just.. that’s just unfair.

  39. Rockmon July 16, 2010 at 10:16 AM #

    As I read the article, I couldn’t help but think what I would do were I in that brother’s situation; a five step process that I go through in the quest for a mate.


    Step 1. Identify. Something catches my attention. It could be the face, the booty, the sound of the voice, the way she dresses. Either way, something tells me to pay attention to that woman.

    Step 2. Observe. How does she act? When I hear a woman speaking I can quickly determine how wise or knowledgeable she is. I can also determine from the way she interacts with others if she’s nice. If she’s rude to other folks I know what to expect. Time to get into the honey moon chit-chat phase.

    Step 3. Communicate. After getting through the chit-chat phase where everything is golden, it’s time to learn the nitty gritty. The only way I can learn a woman’s value system is by talking to her in-depth, and that’s the only way she can learn mine. It doesn’t happen overnight; exposing too much too quickly makes is a recipe for unhealthy vulnerability.

    Step 4. Connect. I’m comfortable with the woman’s value system, and she’s comfortable with my value system. Connection is only possible when both the woman and myself have gotten over any pessimistic fears(Adandonment Issues) about relationships. Usually it doesn’t get this far because a lot of sisters are so afraid that something is going to go wrong it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The greatest weakness of smart sisters is that intelligence gives rise to pessimism.

    Step 5. Create. In order to create one must destroy. In order to get along, both must compromise. That means I have to do things to accomodate her, and she has to do things to accomodate me. A relationship without compromise is an infantile fantasy.

    Lots of sisters aren’t willing to compromise. Many educated successful bachelorettes, don’t want to give up the bachelorette lifestyle. They just want to have their cake and eat it too. When things get serious, they back out. (Note that lots of sisters think they are at step 5 when they’re only at step 3)

    When they don’t back out, they discover the two of us combined can be far more creative, productive, silly and romantic than we could alone. We can be one anothers muse. With a little luck we can be happily married for 8 years until we divorce, then realize 15 years later that you have to work it out no matter who your with. With a lot of luck we won’t get divorced.

    Putting myself in the shoes of the brother in the story I just read, I would have probably had an issue with the woman’s value system somewhere in step 3. Or discovered that I was talking to a smoker. That’s just me though.

    I know that some guys are uncomfortable dealing with intelligent women because they’re intimidated(man insecure with himself), or they think it’s a headache(woman insecure with herself). More often than not, two intellectuals get together and one or both of them has a hard time differentiating from debating the subject, and debating the person, so they shift away from one another.

    On the other hand, some intelligent sisters are just too depressing.

  40. Brittney Highsmith August 27, 2010 at 6:11 AM #

    I just got finished cutting a guy off because of his views on our non-exclusive relationship. When I first met this guy, I thought he was cute. My cousin told me he had a big dick because he showed her a video on his phone of some girl sucking his dick. Having just recently moved back to NJ/NY, I decided to end my involuntary celibacy and go get him. I did.

    We got to know each other for about a month or so until one day he said to me, after hearing that a male friend was putting a tire on my car for me, that I “keep too many niggas around me.” and he doesn’t like that. I was offended.

    He tried to make it seem like it was about safe sex at first. But I ruled that out quickly because one, he should have just asked me if I was sleeping with other people and two, he had just tried to put his mouth on me a few short days ago, no protection mentioned.

    He then went on to say that because I know that all men want to have sex and “usually get it” that I was putting myself in the situation to basically be sweet talked, coerced, or forced to have sex. Wtf???

    At the end of the day, he is first, jealous because I’m comfortable being nonexclusive. I don’t bother to ask about other females with him because I don’t care simply. Secondly, his money situation is not what it should be and I know for a fact, based on his comments, that it bothers him that I go to other guys when I need a favor, monetary or not. Women who do favors for me don’t count, of course. Lastly, he can not stand the fact that I am ultimately not aimed at trying to be his wife. I am far less committal than him and I think that throws him for a loop. Usually it’s the other way around. The truth is, I would never take him seriously because he has a 5 year old daughter and because he is not stable enough for me. I don’t want a man who is in and out of jail. All I wanted from him was good sex and decent conversation.

    I’m tired of being punished for the male attention that I receive and I’m not going to pretend to be this pristine, in-the-house-thinking-about-your-dick kind of woman. It’s not me. I’m looking forward to dating in a new city and I shouldn’t have to pretend to be some asexual, except-when-I’m-with-him, type of woman in order to not be a ho. Ultimately, even if I was sleeping with those other guys, it’s not his concern.

  41. blue November 5, 2010 at 2:06 PM #

    heres a thought, why don’t you just tell him what you want. No offence, but im sick and tired of “feminist” type women who yell all day about equality and how the traditional role of a woman is degrading, well i say if you want equality, you can pick and choose where, if you want to be equal to a man and you want to be liberated from the ways of old, then do it! What wrong with YOU asking the man out, why are you sitting on your ass waiting for your dream man wondering why all these guys won’t attempt any romantic relations with you. DUHH cause your a feminist, your’e whole goal is to have women the absolute freedom to choose, so all these men are waiting for you to say something first, but nooo, im sorry, thats the mans job right, smh, thats being hypocritical about the whole basis of the “feminist” movement if you ask me. Why do men feel intimidated and why do they see you as sexually unapproachable just cause your a feminist? the answer is simple, when men come across a beautiful, intellectual, successful, and feminist type of women, many men will be reluctant to ask you out because we know that

    a. this type of woman is usually picky and knows what she wants, only wants what she wants, and gets what she wants, and because of her ambitious nature, she will get the man she wants, not just what she can get.
    b. this type of woman is thought of by many men with great respect, so its hard to approach her romantically so as not to look like a squirrel who needs his daily nut, or fit the stereotypical man who is just out to fulfil another conquest.
    c. this type of woman is known to take the utmost care of herself, and would expect that of their man, and its up to this type of woman to show some kind of approval to that man, let down her barriers, and let the man know that you are not impossible to please and you do need a man in your life to please you, and let him know that you would do the same.
    d. most of these types of women are always thought of to be either too busy, and have too much on thier plate to deal with a man, or just flat out doesn’t want a man period.

    So, seeing as many men can look at a successful feminist type women like this, the logical thing to do would be just tell that man your interested and let him know that you do want a man and are not you are not unapproachable. Let him know that though you do demand the respect of a lady, you do love having sex with the right man. Just let him know that he can get it, quit sitting on your ass saying boo hoo, why doesnt he ask me out, if you want to know, ask him! Life can be rightfully lived if what if is all that can be said.


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