On dat­ing while ‘woke’

Ash­leigh Atwell is a queer les­bian writer and or­ga­nizer born and raised in At­lanta, GA.

GA Voice - - Outspoken -

“When mas­cu­line peo­ple are pres­sured to spread toxic mas­culin­ity or femmes are forced into do­mes­ti­ca­tion, no one is truly happy. Peo­ple should be al­lowed to do what­ever comes nat­u­ral for them.”

In Fe­bru­ary, I wrote about my strug­gles in the At­lanta dat­ing scene and while my men­tal is­sues haven’t been a prob­lem as of late, my lat­est es­capades have caused me to do some re­flec­tion. Any­one that knows me or reads this col­umn knows that I have strong fem­i­nist lean­ings. I don’t take any crap and I don’t think a per­son’s pur­pose in life can be de­fined by their gen­i­talia and out­ward ap­pear­ance. That said, as I was mulling over the last per­son that caught my eye, I had a re­al­iza­tion.

I typ­i­cally take a tra­di­tion­ally fem­i­nine role in my ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ships. I love the idea of get­ting dressed up for my boo and them telling me how pretty I am. I like the idea of cook­ing and clean­ing for them. I like the idea of some­one will­ing to take the lead and let me lay back, at times. There, I said it.

Writ­ing that pas­sage was painful and ad­mit­ting this to my­self was a lot. As an un­apolo­get­i­cally Black fem­i­nist, I should be re­sis­tant to this type of role. I should be balk­ing at the idea of be­ing tra­di­tion­ally fem­i­nine. But, I’m not and for some rea­son, that both­ers me. Heteronor­ma­tive be­hav­ior is an is­sue in the LGBTQ com­mu­nity and I don’t want to pro­mote it. As a queer woman, I have in­ter­acted with women that be­lieve femmes are just around to serve them and be quiet while act out ev­ery toxic mas­cu­line be­hav­ior they learned from their dad­dies, broth­ers and un­cles. As some­one who likes mas­cu­line of cen­ter women, one

Novem­ber 11, 2016

of my big­gest fears is fall­ing for some­one that hasn’t aban­doned toxic mas­culin­ity. Do­mes­tic abuse is an oft ig­nored is­sue in the com­mu­nity and I’m not will­ing to be its next vic­tim.

At the core, I think this boils down to vul­ner­a­bil­ity. As a queer per­son, I don’t want my sort of tra­di­tional fem­i­nin­ity to be used against me. As a Black woman, I don’t want to be made into a mule and not be al­lowed to in­habit that fem­i­nin­ity. I am proud of my in­ter­sec­tional ex­is­tence but at times, it be­comes a bur­den. Dat­ing while “woke” is hard be­cause you care if ev­ery move you make or pref­er­ence up­holds an op­pres­sive sys­tem.

I talked with my friend about this and she summed it up for me. The roles them­selves aren’t the prob­lem. The is­sue be­gins when peo­ple are forced into them. When mas­cu­line peo­ple are pres­sured to spread toxic mas­culin­ity or femmes are forced into do­mes­ti­ca­tion, no one is truly happy. Peo­ple should be al­lowed to do what­ever comes nat­u­ral for them. Bal­ance is key, y’all. Want­ing to learn my fam­ily’s bis­cuit recipe and pos­si­bly be a stay-at-home par­ent doesn’t mean I’m any less of a fem­i­nist. My choices might not be nec­es­sar­ily fem­i­nist but the fact that I’m able to choose is the bless­ing. Are my feel­ings about this set­tled? No. The word “sub­mis­sive” still makes me want to puke. How­ever, noth­ing is def­i­nite. But as a re­cov­er­ing con­trol freak, I’m learn­ing to en­joy the jour­ney.

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