So it all started one Sunday morning when I was hanging out with this dude I’ve been seeing casually for the past few months. We were playing video games and watching all kinds of YouTube videos, from reptile documentaries to meme reviews. It was all fun and games until we stumbled upon a podcast of some guy talking about how “dramatic” and “smug” the liberals are and how rape culture “doesn’t actually exist”.
Being totally enamored by my pizza breakfast at the time, I didn’t really pay attention to what the podcast guy was talking about until the dude asked me, “So do you agree? Do you think rape culture exists?”
[RECORD SCRATCH] [FREEZE FRAME]
What the heck, I thought.
“What the heck,” I actually said it out loud. “Of course it does. Why do you think survivors who come forward are questioned about what they were wearing and if they were drinking?”
A moment of silence later, he then went to great lengths to explain about how the so-called rape culture is just an overhyped notion, because there’s no “proof that it’s considered a cultural norm” and because “rapists don’t go around freely raping people – they get punished, y’know.”
That was enough reason to facepalm and rethink my life choice. But, first, disclaimer, this piece, for the most part, isn’t about rape culture and how it’s a very real thing in our society. Rather, it’s about what happens when you find out that your date – or potential suitor, or someone offering to have your hands in marriage, or anyone showing a romantic interest in you, really – doesn’t exactly share the same political views that you have.
One question: would you still be with them?
You see, I like this dude. I think he’s a pretty cool person and we share mutual interests and similar ideas of what constitutes a fun time. I do, however, dislike that he’s gotten this far in life without seriously considering the privilege he’s granted simply by being a man. That’s not exactly something I want in a long-term partner and I think that’s okay.
Politics, like sexuality, isn’t binary. It exists on a broad spectrum of views and ideas. There are varying shades and degrees by which people embrace various aspects of feminism, and these features don’t always go hand-in-hand with how dateable they are. Respect for other point of view and understanding of why an individual holds such point of view is important, of course.
However, in a relationship, one of the parties may not hold the views of the other’s very strongly, yet denying it to keep the significant other satisfied. When you’re attached to someone, you’ll do anything to avoid a breakup, including convincing yourself that his or her ignorance doesn’t bother you or that it can change. Otherwise, for the most part the relationship just wouldn’t work.
My date then asked me if I was a feminist. I nodded (while muttering under my breath, I’m in a punk band writing songs about catcalling and I’m planning to write this conversation for a feminist webzine, what do you think?). And a silence followed.
I wondered if things were going to get weird from that point onward. Maybe it’s easier to be who your date wants you to be. Maybe it’s easier if you would just say the things they want to hear. Or, maybe I just want to stay being unapologetically myself.
Maybe this is why I’m also single.
To this day, we’re still not official or anything. The conversation we had just had, helped me realize that sharing values is indeed important when it comes to a meaningful relationship. It also means that my (already small) dating pool will become even smaller, but that’s okay. I see examples of sexist and ignorant behavior coming up uninvited in my life every day, and I don’t need them in my chosen intimate relationships too. Of course there is more to a person than the political labels that they attach to themselves, but I can’t see myself sharing my life with and being vulnerable physically and emotionally around someone who questions my rights.
Zara Zahrina is an undergrad communication student at Universitas Airlangga. She spent the last 8 hours not getting any matches on Tinder. If you think you have found someone for her (hint: must be cute and respects women) slide into her Instagram DMs: @sskeletale.