In the vernacular of consent, who makes the first move? Do I read your mind? Do you read mine? What do I want, really? Sex? A relationship? See how it goes? Dating is as complicated as it’s ever been and the caliber of consent has engaged another level of certainty mixed with uncertainty. What will be, we wonder? Some of us date to meet someone we connect with. Maybe the dating becomes going out, which can turn into an exclusive relationship, that maybe that leads to marriage and divorce. Some of us date multiple people at the same time, making sure we don’t settle for just anyone. Some of us can only date one person at a time, looking for who is beyond the Nice Person on that first date. We date, we connect, we talk about it with our friends. We text The Person, sometimes we wait. Sometimes it’s not our choice that there isn’t a second date, sometimes it’s our decision. Sometimes there is sex involved and sometimes there isn’t a second or a third date after that first one. Sometimes sex turns into a lost weekend. Sometimes there’s ghosting. Sometimes there’s obsession. Sometimes, sometimes, sometimes. Dating is in its own way the pursuit of hope.
In 1995, The Rules came out and we feminists? We cackled at it. The Rules told not to call the Object of Your Affection first, to always end a date or a call first, to not have sex on the first date. There was a lot of emphasis on being First to wrap up, as if it gave you agency. There was a tremendous amount of calculation. The goal was simple: catch the eternal eye of The One. I didn’t adhere to The Rules and I stand by that decision; it’s served me well, it’s kept me grounded, it’s existence reminds me to be myself at all times. I started thinking about The Rules in the wake of the Azizuation, and how it dovetailed into Who Does What First. (To be clear, dating is not hooking up, the latter which is simply sex for the sake of sex, like a one night stand, which I am a huge proponent of, learning to engage in your pleasure without confusing it with romance.) In the dance of dating, when you’re alone with That Person, what is your expectation? Are we that nuanced dot every “i” and cross every “titty”? My concern as always is thus: Are we becoming so cynical that there’s no room for romance or for fun?
I’ve been dating my whole life. I walk into every date, hoping the person I am with is going to be someone I like enough to hang out with. I know at some point in the date (which includes but is not limited to a walk in the park, drinks, dinner, a bus ride) if I like the person. I leave every date knowing whether I will see the person again. I have my own personal set of rules that work for me; I’ve workshopped the shit out of dating.
And that first move? The one where someone leans in and puts lips on lips? That’s up for grabs. Sometimes one of us is shy. Sometimes The Person is taking too long to do so and I do it. Sometimes The Person is right on me, desire in full effect. It’s a back and forth, that first move. If I am with The Person, alone, apres meeting for a drink or a dinner, I personally, am interested in someone making a first move. Not every woman is this way, when she is alone with The Person. Sometimes The Person is a terrible kisser or has halitosis or is suddenly not attractive to me and I switch gears, knowing that there will be disappointment but also caring about my needs first. That’s what I want for my daughter, that’s what I want for all women: to be loyal to your own needs. Sometimes The Person is so much more than I imagined and I don’t want to leave but have to, because I need to walk the dog or because I am no longer welcome. I don’t have specific expectations, just hope, so I never know, really, what I’m going to feel after that first move, but I try to be attuned to it as it will determine so much for me.
In my experience, women are hesitant to make the first move. That may come from our good-girl conditioning, something we learn in high school (maybe even sooner), when a girl’s reputation is all she has outside of her academics. When what is said about you is gospel. We learn to live inside the colored lines, to not hook up with “too” many people, so we’re not branded a slut. We become stripped of our sense of empowerment, beholden to what is said about us. It’s ever the mindfuck. By the time we become women in our twenties, that shroud is still so present. We learn about our agency one first move at a time, from adjusting what we want so we can get closer to knowing what we want from a future The Person and That Person right in front of us. It’s an ongoing education.
My code is not universal. My code is imprinted with my agency. My code is my consent. And when I date, my consent is embedded in that first move.
RIP Ursula Le Guin.
Girl: “As we continue to talk about consent and rape culture, we continue to discuss the smaller but harmful things that occur when hooking up. You don’t know what’s a trigger for someone, and the person you’re hooking up with is a fucking human being. Treat them like one.”
US Gymnast Mattie Larson: “I can’t even put into words how much I fucking hate you.”
Judge Rosemarie Aquilina: “Mattel ought to make toys so that little girls can look at you and say, ‘I want to be her.’ Thank you so much for being here, and for your strength.”
Kasia Urbaniak: “Like, what is it that stops you? Because there’s this moment — someone is touching you in a way you don’t like and they even ask you, Do you like that? and you want to say ‘no,’ and yet the word ‘yes’ comes out of your mouth. Or somebody goes, ‘Nice tits, can I come upstairs?’ And it’s just … nothing. That moment. What is that moment?”
Senator Tammy Duckworth is having a baby!
These. I covet these. Size 7.
Get paid what you want.
Suspicious I am, when a company hands out $1,000 to 125,000 employees.
And now have a laugh with Leslie Jones.