Beyond the lovely cushioning, happiness and support that we receive from our platonic relationships (which are, in all honesty, soul-feeding and essential), feminists also date! But there are questions we have to ask before we get close to someone.
The following list of questions is applicable to all relationships — certainly not just cisgender, heterosexual ones:
1. Do you believe that Black Lives Matter?
Yes? Wonderful. Let’s start here. There are three categories that are non-negotiables for me: an understanding of race, class, and gender. Not everyone understands how these three can be insidious, systemic and intertwined, but anyone who doesn’t take the time to learn how systematic racism works isn’t going to care about how racism affects me or people who are darker-skinned than I am.
I don’t want to have to have laborious discussions where I have to prove to someone that white privilige or non-black privilege exists. If they are willing to learn and listen and make the space to decenter their whiteness (if they are white), that’s a good place to start.
2. Do you think capitalism is exploitative?
Anti-capitalism, especially in the U.S., is imperative if you have an understanding of systemic racism, the prison industrial complex, the 13th Amendment, and exploitation. Capitalism, for one, teaches us that we are only valuable if we produce capital. That means that if you aren’t contributing to the system with your labor, your life means almost nothing.
If your date says they’re anti-fascist and part of the resistance but they’re cool with exploiting labor from communities of color and they support the school to prison pipiline then there’s a good chance they’ll only value you for your ability to nurture them without any reciprocation.
3. Can any human be illegal?
We live on a tiny planet, with land and water within a galaxy surrounded by a universe with an inconceivable number of other galaxies and planets. Yet here we dictate where we are and who is allowed to be where we are. It’s mind-boggling that borders are even a thing, so to call people “aliens” or “illegal immigrants” is so inhumane and despicable.
White Americans stole this land, colonized this land, created so many borders, pushed out, killed and enslaved people of color and somehow they have the audacity to claim that this land is theirs and that black and brown immigrants are stealing their jobs, land, and homes? Miss me with that bullshit.
4. How do you work to dismantle sexism and misogyny in your life?
I’ve met cisgender heteronormative (cishet) men who hate women. They say they love women, but that love is conditional on not having their toxic masculinity questioned or threatened in any way. And they love us as a monolith, they love what women have to offer, whether it is sex, food, love, care, emotional labor: they love us for what we can do for them, not because of who we are for ourselves. It is crucial for cishet men to learn how to decenter their male privilige in order for them to understand the multitudes of interpretations of femininity and womanhood.
Beyond Misogyny 101, does the person you are with understand rape culture, systemic sexism, and misogynoir? Are they willing to learn if they don’t? Misogyny is more than the pay gap. Walk away from anyone who believes that “boys will be boys” and that women are supposed to be mothers because we’re nothing but ambulatory incubators.