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Myth-Busting: Feminism is a romance-killer

January 8, 2007

Right up there with man-hating and bra-burning is the idea that feminists want to destroy romance. The older myth was that we were just jealous biddies who couldn’t get a date. (Cause feminists are ugly and scary, didn’t ya know?)

The new and improved anti-feminist myth about romance is that we’re big old whores.

My favorite example of this comes from the Independent Women’s Forum. Their “Take Back the Date” campaign is the ultimate in blaming feminism for killing romance. (What “romance” actually means to the ladies of IWF is a whole other story; the fact that the campaign name is a play on Take Back the Night speaks volumes, IMO.)

Who won the sexual revolution? Not young women who live in the world of “hooking up,” the modern campus alternative to dating. Young women complain to us that dating has become an anachronism. Instead of chivalry and courtship, college relationships are more often nothing more than awkward drunken make-out sessions.

According to IWF Vice President Carrie Lukas, feminists use Valentine’s Day to “celebrate the sexual revolution for freeing women to have sex as casually as men.” Uh huh. (Translation: Feminists have sex! And sex isn’t romantic!)

What’s truly interesting to me about this campaign is that it positions college campuses’ V-Day—which generally consist of a performance of The Vagina Monologues and other anti-sexual violence activities—as the antithesis to romance. Just check out the Take Back the Date flyer made available on IWF’s site.

Free Cupid! Feminist groups have gone too far! They’re promoting female victimology and male-bashing with performances of The Vagina Monologues and misleading information about women’s issues.

So if anti-violence is anti-romance, then what exactly is romance to the IWF? Going back to the good old days where women were raped and no one spoke out? This may seem like a harsh take on the campaign, but considering how often sexual violence against women is conflated with romance, I think it’s appropriate.

Random example: Some years ago, I had a pretty disturbing experience with a guy I had casually dated turning into a full-blown stalker. It was terrifying—threatening phone calls, hanging out in front of my apartment building, checking my emails, hacking into my AIM, and more that I won’t even get into. But all of this was done with romantic rhetoric about how he was just crazy in love with me. I even had a guy friend of mine, who I asked for advice on the situation, wonder why I would be so upset about someone “caring” about me so much.

And there’s a reason, after all, that many rape awareness curricula are sure to point out that rape has nothing to do with romance or being overcome by “passion”—because too often that’s the way it’s perceived, specifically in acquaintance rapes. It’s all about women being resistant, and how romantic it is when guys finally “get through” to them. (For a funny-scary take on this, check out this piece in The Onion.)

Feminists aren’t anti-romance, when romance means mutual affection and respect. And yes, feminists think that women should be able to have casual sex if they want to—but that doesn’t mean that we all scoff at the idea of dating and relationships, either. If you ask me, feminists are the most romantic women around—because we rely on our own judgment and choices to define what’s romantic. And that’s deserving of some flowers.

To read other blog entries by Jessica Valenti or others at GUERNICA click HERE

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