ALICIA WALLACE: What rules should be followed in the great dating game?

ON Bahamian social media, there are a few topics that come up over and over again, still unresolved. On an endless loop, people on opposite sides argue their positions or, more precisely, argue against other positions. In these pseudo-conversations, some people actively participate by engaging others, some express their own opinions while others have side conversations about the current or adjacent topic.

This type of activity is a window, creating the opportunity to see how people think and understand why we are where we are today and what we need to do to move forward.

One of the recurring topics on Twitter is dating. People under 30 never seem to tire of this topic, making the same points over and over. Most people seem to agree that Bahamians don’t know how to date them. They say everything is moving too fast, not because the couple wants it, but because of the perceptions of people on the outside.

It is considered inappropriate for a woman to date more than one person. If she is seen with one person on Friday and another on Saturday, horrible names start to circulate. She made no commitments to either person other than meeting them at a particular time for a specific activity, but being seen with them means something if only because it is misinterpreted and judged by other people.

We don’t have the opportunity to get to know people and explore options when we are forced to limit ourselves to someone we don’t know very well. Women have two options: ignore the noise and accept that people make up their own stories about us and generously share them with others, or give in to the pressure and limit the options by seeing only one person until. that this is no longer desirable.

For men, of course, it is quite different. This is largely due to the social construction of gender as well as the general understanding of a date. The latter is a never-ending argument in itself and the positions taken by people are indicative of serious problems in society.

What is an appointment? Who decides on the conditions of an appointment? Who should spend the money and how much? What are people’s expectations on the date?

Arguments about what is and is not a date usually come in response to someone sharing an experience they enjoyed. Somehow, someone always brings ice cream into the conversation, especially to argue that ice cream is not expensive enough to be considered a proper purchase to make in the center of an appointment. “Ice cream is not a date! This passionate statement comes from people who expect at least a full meal in a restaurant. There is nothing wrong with this preference. The problem is, people with this preference say it’s the norm. It’s popular, yes, but it doesn’t have to be the norm or the minimum. Some people are more comfortable with dates that are more casual, less expensive, and take less time.

Those who expect more (in terms of cost) tend to attack others for “lowering” the bar and “making it harder” for them. The assumption is that a person who successfully takes someone out for ice cream as a date will later make fun of another person who would like to go to dinner. It becomes the fault of the woman who went to the ice cream date. People have different preferences and, of course, different comfort levels, especially with people they barely know. It seems like the more virulent people in these conversations prioritize getting the most out of a single date so that it’s worth it. It doesn’t seem like enjoying another person’s company or getting to know someone else is the primary focus.

One of the issues raised by these dating arguments is the transactional nature of our business. There are people of all genders who believe that they are owed something for going on dates. Some think they are owed a free meal. Some people think we owe them sex. Some believe, even if they don’t articulate it that way for themselves, that a date is an exchange of food for sex.

“Yes, I’ll pay for the surf and the turf, but I’m expecting something in return at the end of the night” and “Yes, we can have sex, but they better feed me first” are current positions. We may have our own value judgments and differing opinions on this approach, but it’s not for us to decide how or why other people date, just as it’s not for them to decide that we all should. do it their way.

Dating, in a general sense, is about getting to know someone (or people). It’s about spending time with them, having conversations, participating in different activities and seeing them in different contexts and circumstances. It should be okay to date more than one person when there is no exclusivity commitment. No number of dates should suggest that the people involved see each other exclusively. It should be a conversation with a definitive agreed conclusion.

There is little talk of going Dutch or splitting the bill. There is always the expectation that the man or person posing as masculine pays the bill. In fact, this expectation is at the heart of the main argument about what constitutes a date.

It is confusing to see people who claim to support women’s rights engaging and trying to engage others in patriarchal and heteronormative beliefs and behaviors. It’s not shocking that people rely on beliefs that are beneficial to them in the moment, such as letting the other person pay. Women can say, “I am the prize. He wants to go out with me, so he has to pay. Men can say, “What about feminism? Don’t you want everything to be equal? Let’s share the bill. ”These kinds of comments actually come up in the“ What is dating? ”Debates on social media. It’s not that their desires are wrong, but that they are using interpretations. twisted values ​​and principles to validate them We should be able to say what we want without commodifying women or trivializing feminism.

Dating in the Bahamas really takes on a different meaning from what the media portray. Here people usually go on a few dates with one person before making it exclusive, sometimes without a clear verbal agreement. People who don’t do it this way are often portrayed in a negative light. Dating here comes with way too much extra pressure. Who is watching, what people might think, how do you influence the “standards” set by others and what the other person will expect from you because of the date and its cost are all ubiquitous questions. .

In a way, the way we go out reinforces the idea that women are objects; that men can buy our time and attention as well as access to our bodies. Some men really believe that a meal is prepayment for sex. Some women really believe that the dollar value of a date is indicative of a man’s level of interest and seriousness. Money, rather than interaction, is used to measure the quality of the date. You have to distinguish between quantity and quality. We also need to be honest about the reasons for dating. If you go out for entertainment and to pass the time, it is very different from meeting to get to know people and possibly find a partner. It would, of course, be better to be upfront about the reasons so that we can correspond with like-minded people.

Women are not objects. Women don’t buy themselves. Everyone should understand this. This is not only important in the dating world, but in the way the country views women. The dating discussion has, at its core, a gender ideology rooted in patriarchy and misogyny. It can easily be used to blame women who experience sexual violence, especially from people they know. It can also be used to make false distinctions between women based on their preferences, amalgamating those preferences with their self-esteem.

It seems quite difficult for people to accept that there are other points of view and other ways of being that do not threaten theirs. One person’s frozen date has nothing to do with another’s three-course meal, just as a person’s exercising their rights (such as using contraceptives) does not preclude a other person’s beliefs (such as choosing not to use contraceptives).

The right to self-determination is good, and we can all date in different ways with different goals. It’s much less about money than most people realize. Pay attention to what is being traded and what the other person expects.

Better yet, talk about expectations before the date. It doesn’t have to be a mystery. You can save a lot more than money by initiating this type of open and direct communication.

About Jimmie P. Ricks

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