A friend of mine lent me her copy of Outdated: Why Dating is Ruining your Love Life by Samhhita Mukhopadhyay. I’m only on the first chapter and already I have more insight into my past and current dating experiences than I ever.
Outdated first speaks about how it appears impossible for feminist women to be able to navigate romantic relationships because there is not model for how feminism would work in said relationship. Feminism is currently being used incorrectly and being blamed for ruining relationships but that is not actually true. Many believe that feminism is encouraging women to not date or marry, that’s it’s all about the “independent women”. True but nothing is ever that simple. Feminists want love and relationships too. Outdated blames the gender roles that are pushed on men and women, followed by the romance industry and government legislation are the culprits for romantic relationships of any kind being difficult.
Gender Roles: It is was dictates everything. Gender roles in relationships tell us what men and women are supposed to be doing in order to be happy (it’s all lies by the way). For example: men should be the breadwinners and women the homemakers. Not following what your gender role tells you to do is believed to lead to chaos and the ultimate break up of your relationship. For some, stereotypical male and female gender roles may work but Outdated (and myself) would argue that majority of us end up suffering, staying in poor relationships longer than we should because we are trying to be someone we are not in order to find love.
Romance Industry: This industry enforces gender roles. What motivated the author of Outdated to write the book was because she found all women’s “self help” love books to be focused on what is wrong with us, women, and how we can fix ourselves to become a “man whisperer”. This is where “that girl” comes in. No woman wants to be “that girl”. Outdated uses The Needy Girl and The Bitch as examples of “types” of women these “self help” books say women should avoid being (ie: telling us to ignore that our partner doesn’t keep us posted on events in their life or else we’ll seem needy and controlling). These books, that claim to be able to help people find love, want us to repress what we personally want from relationships (ie: attention from our partner).
Government Legislation: There is nothing better than legalized sexism (sarcasm). It is in government legislation that we can really see not only gender but heternormativity (which in this case means straight, monogamous and married). Straight, monogamous, married couples are granted privileges that are denied cohabiting partners whether they be opposite or same sex (the details of this legislation depends on your country of residence). Privileges such as marriage, insurance coverage, ownership, separation etc are not given to most couples unless they are legally married. The government is dictating what types of relationships we can have which in turn can make us pursue relationships we do not want or not pursue relationships at all.
I can see how all of this played out in my life. Mostly when I was younger, and knew nothing of relationships, I put myself through a lot of pain because I wanted to be the perfect girlfriend. This usually meant that I ignored what I wanted and did what I thought would make the guy happy. I let a lot of things go, for example, not saying I felt ignored or that the relationship was unfair. I believe the perfect girlfriend let the guy decide things. Now I’m wondering what is my purpose in a relationship if I’m not an active participant in how it works? That’s not the relationship I want.
I was always worried about being labeled as “needy”, “crazy” or a “bitch”. No matter how hard I tried though I would end up being those things and it was probably because I was denying myself what would make me happy in a relationship.
How can we use feminism in our relationships? I think the first way of having feminism in your relationship is by not allowing gender roles to decide how your relationship works. I can’t speak for everyone but this is how I feel it’s playing out in mine.
I am with someone who has similar goals, values, morals and beliefs.
We support each other in our professional and creative endeavors.
We do not expect either of us to do certain things because of our identified gender.
We communicate about our needs and work through how to achieve them.
We accept each other as we are.
Still, Outdated is right, there is no framework for feminism and dating. There should be one but the most important thing is that you are in a relationship that is working for you. Only you and your partner(s) can decide how everything is going to work and that will actually change as your relationship changes.
I have a feeling this book is going to produce some great posts and hopefully great comments from all of you
I’ve never really identified as “recovered”.
I’ve had bad experiences with the word.
I have a feeling I’ve possibly, for the sake of argument, said in here or to other people that I have recovered from my mental health issues. This was not told to me by a psychiatrist. The last one I spoke to, about 4 years ago, told me I had Borderline Personality Disorder. I have decided that I am “recovered” because I am the one that truly knows myself.
I feel that recovery is being a tad skewed by mental health professionals but mostly by society. “Recovered” creates a burden to also be that way. It’s a pressure that I don’t want to be under.
How do you recover? What does recovery look like? Who decides when you’ve recovered? How long should recovery take?
All these questions and more have influenced how I’ve chosen to identify. I overall just identify as myself. It’s an identify that is comfortable for me.
I hate being asked, “how did you recover?” I DON’T KNOW! Really, I don’t. It happened to gradually, it was a large process. It almost doesn’t matter what I did because what has helped me because it possibly, and probably, won’t work for you! And that is fine! That is how it should be.
I feel, thanks to how psych meds are seen, that we completely misunderstand the journey that is supposed to come out of self-improvement. We are all searching for that quick fix and when we can’t find it we become discouraged and give up. Improving yourself is supposed to difficult, it’s supposed to be a process. If it was easy then I would doubt its long term effectiveness.
What scares me the most about saying “I am recovered” is what happens when I fail? I find myself in the midst of breakdowns yelling at myself in my head for not being the perfect recovered person I have felt the pressure to be! I become worried that since I can’t keep myself together all the time that I’m not the right person to be doing my work in mental health. I know that all of this is wrong. I know that no one can keep everything together at all times but I still can’t help but picture people seeing me at my lowest saying, “You’re not recovered! You’re still crazy.”
This is the wrong attitude to have and it sets me back in that moment. Accepting the bad and that the bad will happen is apart of being ok with myself.
So, I prefer to set my own rules. This way I set the expectations and I only need to please myself. I can be the only one to determines my happiness in my life.
Recovery should not be a one size fits all. We may have the same diagnosis but we are not the same people and we need to have full control over how we chose to improve ourselves. Only we can determine when we’ve reached that comfortable time in our life where we can say “yes, I’m ok” with a smile on your face.