Columnist Dave Hon caused quite the social media stir when he published an article titled “Why I’ll never date a feminist.” It is rather tempting to brush this aside with a light-hearted ‘well feminists wouldn’t date you in the first place,’ or a, ‘you look like a sexually frustrated potato who hates women because they won’t sleep with you,’ which is exactly what the rest of the social media bubble has done. Personally, I don’t feel this is an adequate response (despite being incredibly amusing) as it fails to address how sexist attitudes have evolved and how commentators like Dave Hon perpetuate such beliefs. Defining feminism is difficult as it is an incredibly broad ideology, but it can loosely be defined as gender equality socially, politically and economically. If you disagree with the basic premise of feminist, before you carry on reading I would ask you in a polite but firm manner to watch Laura Bates Ted Talk on everyday sexism or Jackson Katz’s Ted Talk on sexism.
Dave Hon – in the time old tradition of right-wing commentators – argues his points in a patronising and know-it-all manner. The crux of his argument is that feminists, which are only woman, hate men because they incorrectly believe they are oppressed. Not only is this a purposeful misdefining of feminism, it feeds the patriarchal narrative that women are complaining about nothing, they should shut up and be happy because we are all equal now. An eerily similar line of rhetoric to the Thatcherite “we’re all middle class now,” or Britain First’s “white British people are oppressed, ethnic minorities are privileged.” The easiest way to oppress someone is to convince them they aren’t oppressed and the misogynist right wing are taking this to the extreme. However, in doing so, they only prove the point of feminists. When a man tries to discourage women from being feminists because they won’t be valued as potential partners by himself and other men, you would have to be plain deluded to not consider that misogyny.
He goes on to say, “People who are more loyal to their gender and not their significant other don’t make good partners,” which is a bizarre argument when you think about it. Either Dave Hon believes a relationship is part of your identity – an extremely unhealthy way to view relationships – or he’s just really confused and doesn’t really know how to form a coherent argument. As an ethnic minority, I’ve never felt that my significant other and my skin colour are in some kind of competition? Additionally, being a feminist you are striving for gender equality, not gender inequality. Which makes Dave Hon’s comment, “Romance turns into a power struggle rather than a partnership,” even more strange. If feminism advocates gender equality, then how is there a power struggle? It’s almost laughable that Dave is scared of being put in a similar position to that of women in the wider patriarchal power struggle that is society.
Dan attempts to justify his stance with the statement, “The truth is, these aren’t political issues, but deeply personal ones” which I have a number of issues with. Everything is political whether that is election results, the economy, legislation, who and how you fuck, what drugs you put in your body or the relationships you form with other human beings. Here are the statistics: 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped every year in the UK with 90% of the victims knowing the perpetrator prior to the incident and 31% of young women aged 18-24 report having experienced sexual abuse in childhood. And yet, conviction rates for rape are far lower than other crimes, with only 5.7% of cases resulting in a conviction which is made even worse when put in the context that only 15% of those who experience sexual violence report it to the police. These are not “personal issues,” these are deeply ingrained political issues within our society that people like Dave Hon don’t want to face.
His opinion is nothing more but the parroting of neoliberal and individualist rhetoric. Feminists do not view society as atomised individuals in a meritocracy because they aren’t blind deluded fools. We do not live in a meritocracy nor do human’s exist solely as individuals. But to the New Right any ideology that disagrees with the idea that we live in a meritocracy is a danger and must be branded as authoritarian. So don’t take dating advice from misogynists like Dave Hon, they are clueless about society and make assumptions about human nature. Personally, I couldn’t imagine being in a relationship with anyone but a feminist, how can you have a relationship without the basic belief you are both equal.