Revelations: Feminism is about being treated like a lady
Online dating is, to me, a peculiar thing.
It's not my favorite method of meeting a potential mate, but I understand why it works for others.
I know of a few fairytale love stories born of online dating websites.
For them, it was love at first computer-generated "wink."
So while I don't really enjoy online dating for myself, I love hearing about my friends' online dating adventures.
I've been following one of my girlfriend's online dating life for months, primarily because her first-date stories are hysterical.
Men bring laptops to dates and try to finish up office work at the dinner table. They show up late or not at all and generously offer to go dutch at the end of the meal.
After so many bad first dates, she said online dating becomes a game of weeding out the bad from the really, really bad.
A few months ago, she was a non-paying OKCupid user. Eight months later, she is now a fully-subscribed, paying Match.com customer.
She bought a Groupon or LivingSocial coupon to try Match.com at a discounted price for a month.
(You may now join me in laughing at the irony of people buying online coupons to find love online.)
Far from being embarrassed about shopping for boyfriends online, my friend owns her Internet dating life.
She likes men. She likes dating. She doesn't have a lot of time to meet men in her daily life who may or may not be interested in dating.
So she goes online. She goes to them. She sorts through profiles and picks out bachelors she thinks will suit her personality.
Sometimes it's a match; sometimes it's not.
We can burn through a bottle of wine, laughing about all of her dating misses. We're not laughing at the men, necessarily. Mostly, we're laughing at the methods single men use these days to attract and impress single women.
For example, we spent about 30 minutes giggling at her newest online beau, who texted her a picture of himself in a towel earlier that day, hoping she might swoon at his muscular physique.
Upon hearing this, I sort of squinted my eyes and cocked my head to the side in confusion.
This guy hasn't even met her yet, and he thinks it's acceptable to send photos of himself in a towel?
"That's not OK," I said, laughing and shaking my head. "That's a level 3, level 4 dating move. You're still at ground zero."
She wasn't as bothered as I was by the picture. She found it more ridiculous than offensive.
She'd categorized his text as just another strange, romantic, attention-seeking gesture by another strange, clueless, online man.
And the worst part is, these are not uneducated, unsophisticated men. They have master's, law and doctorate degrees; they earn nice salaries. They should know better.
After we finished giggling at the towel photo, our discussion faded into a discussion about the state of dating in general and how women of today's generation date.
Though I wasn't always so traditional in my dating preferences, my faith has slowly morphed me into a more traditional dater. For my friend, however, tradition is not so important.
She, for example, doesn't mind when men text her to ask her out on a date. I prefer to be called on the phone.
She doesn't mind if her date meets her at a previously decided upon location. I prefer my dates to plan our outing and pick me up at my door.
But as we went through our dating dos and don'ts, we agreed on one thing - men of this generation have seriously dropped the proverbial ball.
Gone are the days when men go out of their way to make an effort to impress women on first dates. They spend more time playing online video games with their buddies than they do pursuing women they may someday want to call girlfriend.
And the craziest part is, women have allowed them to bow out. We don't require them to do anything to woo us. We are romance starved, and our roles have completely blended into something inexplicable.
And somehow, texting "Hi, whatcha doin'? I think we should hang out sometime," has become an acceptable date proposition.
Text? Hang out? Sometime?
What happened to looking up phone numbers and calling? What happened to using direct and non-vague words like, "Hey, I like you. I'd like to take you out on a date Saturday night. How about dinner and a movie?"
When did men start fearing rejection from women so much that they've been reduced to sending text messages with vague and confusing advances?
What does hanging out mean? Are you asking me to be friends? Are you asking me to hang out with you and your friends?
It's exhausting to decode male language through text message before I even know if I like you. And frankly, if you have two fingers to text a woman, you have more than enough fingers to dial her phone number.
At the end of my conversation with my girlfriend, I suggested that women everywhere should take back dating.
We need to declare that dating requests via text message are socially unacceptable, then reinforce the three-date pay rule (meaning the man pays for the first three dates and then the woman has the option of paying on the fourth).
We should require men pick us up at our doors, rather than honking or texting that they're waiting outside. We should enforce the rule our mothers and daddies used to tell us about standing by the passenger car door until your date remembers to open your door first. And at the end of the night, they should walk us to the front door and wait for us to get inside safely.
Yes, it seems like a lot of work. Yes, it seems traditional. And perhaps it's not the most feminist line of thinking.
But feminism is about choice. And I choose to be treated like a lady.
At some point we've got to believe that being a woman is more than being treated like an equal. It's also about being treated with respect.
Jennifer Preyss is a reporter for the Victoria Advocate. You can reach her at 361-580-6535 or firstname.lastname@example.org or @jenniferpreyss on Twitter.