Monday, 29 July 2013

The Double C's

As I have spent the better part of this evening doing down the Taylor Swift rabbit hole in Youtube one of the many they have, not that I would know anything about being lost in the world of retro makeup or geeky desserts, I have come to the following question.

Are men taking their dating cues from T Swizzle?

I will qualify this by saying I will give a pass to any 14 year old and under who looks to her for dating advice because they're young enough that the swallow depth of her lyrics are not likely to cause to much trouble. Now for a 31 year old male.... I will give you that she is attractive (but she's also crazy); however, she is more, she also represents our cultural demand for a counterbalance to the "modern successful, even sexually forward" woman. She represents the cute woman more a girl than not yet a woman demographic. It is for this reason for Charlotte in Sex and the City or Jess in New Girl. She's often meek, often overly dream focused, flouncy and girly. She does not by her actions, words or carriage portray a deep held direction, conviction or even the ability to steer herself through life, she is at the behest of whatever male-force wind blows through her life. This concept shares similarities with the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope which has been utilized in the art of covert misogyny in film. The issue is not that there are women who behave like Charlotte (most clips are NSFW so feel free to go down that rabbit hole on your own) or Jess but rather that these cinematic two dimensional characters are seen as normative rather than a masculine ideal. When women, are upheld to an idealized standard, one that in this case requires that they be emotionally, socially or even intellectually limited to be appealing, this is a problem (there is a growing degree of this occurring within women in regards to how they view men and that is not okay).

The problem manifests in dating, especially online dating as the double C's, the cute and cookie-cutter.

I am not cute.

Okay, well...

I might have moments that are cute or silly or even truthfully juvenile, but it is not my desire nor is it appealing to be classified as cute. However, as this one profile notes, "appreciates the differences between genders and attempts to understand the mind of a man...reflective/quiet personality...little financial debt, and I got to say... oh so very cute."* First off, I love ellipses but maybe consider some of the other grammatical devices available, like say a sentence. On the idea of cute. Puppies are cute, bunnies are cute, even sometimes small humans (ie. children) are cute. Is an adult woman? Well maybe before I wrestle with that one, what is or more so what does it mean to be cute in this context? Cute in this case exposes two underlying actions/thoughts. Cute is not sexual, as a good evangelical woman she would not in any way be sexual because that would imply that she's either not modest, holy or even more horrifying that she may want sex and thus pursue, even more horrible initiate, said action with her husband. It also suggests malleability, as the second C in the double C's is cookie cutter. Yes, often that phrase implies pre-arranged, pre-packaged two dimensional persons but it also holds with it the desire to have someone moulded to that exact shape and specification that works for you. 

 So with that in mind I do not want to be cute. I am me, just me. I am a whole person, full of quirks and awesomeness and all that stuff in between.

But that being said I have a confession to make.

I know that somewhere in the evangelical dating curriculum that went out and around almost two decades ago and the time that followed that there was this idea that if we complied this perfect list we would not have superfluous dating relationships as we already knew what we wanted. For the record my list was HUGE. I could have and I would have gone all Frankenstein in that moment. Since then? I tossed the list and got a really simple one. I'll know. I will spend time with people who interest me, men I have chemistry with and that combined with what I know of myself and what I need, it will all pan out, maybe, somehow, or not. But that's the issue in the cute and the cookie cutter. It isn't about the learning. Life, never mind love, is not about a list or a pre-determined shape I want to fit my life or a flavour I like best (apricot rugelach) it is about change, growth, definitions and redefinition. And that process has never and will never be cute, even for the small humans change is not cute, it's hard, but it can also be beautiful, fierce and fragile. That is what I want. That is what I want to be wanted for the beauty, the ferocity and the fragility that is life lived honest and whole hearted.

*per the fine print, this quote is word for word, a typos and ellipses are the individual's, in this case italics and bold are mine for emphasis.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Understanding the Language (Part 1)

I would love to blame my summer of Biblical Hebrew last year for my sudden inability to understand Evangelical dating-ese, but I think the problem might go further back. Way back, like a few light years ago to junior high.

I skipped out of dating in junior and senior high. I would love to say that decision was my choice, a sign of me channelling my inner Cher Horowitz or maybe it was, more accurately, a decision not of my making. Somehow in that choice, that wasn't really my choice I missed out on my chance to learn or at least vaguely comprehend this mysterious language. It sounds like English and I am sure it is English, or maybe was English, just like Cher (the other one) was actually Cher at one point in her life. Every morning when I look at my matches I find myself wondering what kind of alcohol induced game of telephone I've found myself in. Now granted I am sober when I read my matches, it is really all I am willing to offer of myself to the process, so then where is it all breaking down?

I have narrowed down some of the issues which I have examples of (oh screen shots how I love thee), and maybe if we put our heads together, like a gaggle of tourists around a Greek sign we'll be able to figure out where we are headed or at least where we are.

1. The My-I's
2. Cutes
3. Death as Becoming
4. Fem-Men-in-and-out-and-all-around

The My-I's are number one purely for my annoyance and not necessarily my confusion per say. I will say that I am in many respects curious about all of the facts in their appearance. What do the My-I's look like? At present with the site I am using it is often encountered in the "5 Things I Cannot Live Without" as My Jesus, My Salvation, My Bible, My Church, My iPhone, usually followed by the 3 Things I am Thankful For with, My relationship with Jesus, who saved me, My salvation or some other derivation of the Jesus/Holy Spirit or Father God combo and then the last one is always a My ___ (possession). At this point I will say that a majority of profiles (80-90%) demonstrate this phenomena and of those 75% demonstrate it in its majority.  This grates on me, like this grated on my nerves for the five years I worked in pediatrics. It also does not help these men that I work with a 3 and a 6 year old two days a week and they do not even drop the I or the M words that often.

So what happened?

Did Gen Y become the "why meeeeeeeeee" generation at some point and I missed that moment while I was busy being a junior homemaker, balancing a job, school and parents? Even if that did happen, which I doubt it did, I do not feel comfortable with forcing Gen Y to shoulder the blame for this issue when I think the "personal relationship" aspect of the modern Church has a part to play. In all our desire for the me and Jesus relationship we have lost the we and Jesus, the community. I am not suggesting the movement from a corporate understanding of faith and salvation to an individual one is wrong. However, in this manifestation it sounds a lot like the Finding Nemo seagulls and not like a beneficial understanding of the relationship between God and humanity.

I will confess (to you all - how lovely corporate confession is) that these men normally get kicked to the no pile really fast. Why? In the end I'm looking to marry a partner. It is a red flag to me when everything can only be framed in terms of me and I. I become very worried that I am dealing with at best a poorly behaved 3 year old and at worst a pathological narcissist. In the immediate terms of online dating it also makes starting a conversation hard when it is framed all about them. Where exactly do you jump in and get the discussion going? Should I ask how your Bible or your Jesus is today?  Or is all of this just a sign that #4 is going to be the biggest problem of them all, because maybe it is not so much about it being your Jesus as much as it is about my voice* being nothing compared with yours.

*Voice (definition): auditory communication of life experience, perspective and opinions.

Postscript: While listening to the radio I heard this song and I thought I fit perfectly as she does know how to work the My-I:

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

In Which I Enter a Familiar Yet Foreign Land

Robert Frost's famous poem "The Road Not Taken," speaks of two roads, diverging from one another,and according to physics diverging lines do no re-intersect each other after their initial point of contact. However, I have found that either the physicists or Mr. Frost have erred as it seems despite my best attempts to leave the road of fervent, even fundamentalist, faith I have found myself skirting its boundaries.

While I know that in practical terms I have never left evangelicalism as it has continually informed my life even as I have done whatever I could to remove myself from its reach, I was not expecting to discover myself on a this road of more traditional fundamentalist faith. The experience has been more akin to realizing I had mistakenly left my homeland and to my surprise enter into a foreign, hostile (to me) land. In an attempt to remain unseen I have found myself plunged into a ditch.

The first rule of thumb when entering a foreign land, even one that looks, sounds and smells familiar, do not drink the water until you know, for certain, it is safe. Unfortunately for myself I have found I am immersed in some unholy water, the backwaters of fundamentalist evangelical thought. I am positive that the whole of evangelicalism is not quite a stinky at this run off and yet I have fears that this water is what is irrigating future generations. This water does not contain the usual farm run off with a healthy growth of green sludge; rather it contains the bacterial strains of gender roles and politics, the language of "masculinity" and "femininity," a healthy dose of shame and a questionable understanding of the Trinity, all together, when swallowed will make you sick. I have spent the last decade of my life trying to avoid this water, these beliefs spewed like a commercial farm sprinkler in the forms of I Kissed Dating Goodbye to the recent "literary works" of Mark Driscoll and fellow neo-Reformers, like John Piper and Douglas Wilson.* The problem is while I know that these men and their thoughts in no way represent the whole of Christian thought, yet they seems to have found the most fertile soil in men aged 25-40. That is not to say they have not also impacted women as well; however, for all the hype that Joshua Harris garnered during my late teens and early twenties, the idea of throwing dating out the window for the purposes of purity did not ring true for me. That is not to suggest I did not want to throw the angst ridden concept of dating out the window altogether for other reasons, namely my awkwardness in the presence of men my age. I did *try* to date with intention which in practice looked much more like Hermione trying to use a crystal ball. For some reason I had mistaken the idea of intention to one of prediction, was he "the One," yes, then hang around waiting for the day he decides he wants to intently pursue you, while emotionally benefiting from your presence.Yes, you are correct, the math is very wrong in that equation, and no fancy calculus formula is going to make that one work out in the end.

So where does that leave me now... well I guess as I'm reading profiles which tout the wonders of John Eldridge or is looking for "someone who appreciates the differences between genders and attempts to understand the mind of a man" while being "oh so very cute," I am trying to decide if I have or am willing to drink a little of the water in an attempt to be polite.

*These men could also fall under the label complementarian. 

Sunday, 21 July 2013


A few weeks ago I found myself breathing a very deep sigh of relief when my therapist did not broach the subject of my two year long dating dry spell. However, as I thought about it, I decided to do something about it and in doing so continue to be the super patient, so next month I can offer her the brilliance of my action.

Or so I thought. What I had conceived as brilliant quickly became a horrible mess. I quickly realized that trying to jump with both feet into the world of dating Christian men would pose to be as difficult as trying to find a pair of size 8 pumps at an end of season sale.  In recent years I have opted to avoid the stress and existential crises that, for me, seemed to come with dating in the evangelical sphere. I have for the last five years opted to cut my emotional losses and date non-Christians or nominal Christians. It may seem counterintuitive to some but for myself it made much more sense. I did not have to address any of the Church encouraged or even sanctioned gender roles, for myself and for the men I had been dating. I did not have to worry that what I was saying could emasculate my partner or that my desire to not give birth to children could be interpreted as being willful against God's call for myself.

So then why am I back in the Evangelical dating world, now a local in a foreign land or maybe more so a foreigner in what I thought was charted territory?

When I started my degree two years ago I realized that while I might have more in common with the marginally interested in faith or completely apathetic, I could not ultimately have the kind of long term partnership I desired, one that did involve some degree of faith. As such quickly I found myself stuck. I was straddling or more lady like sitting sidesaddle on the fence I perceived between the world and Evangelical Christianity. It might not even be a fence, it might be a wire or it might a large swath of barren land between the two sides, as I am truthfully not even sure where I stand with regards to either side. Wherever I may be sitting (with my ankles locked), standing or running around like a ninny (mostly this option) I have come to the realization that there is much to be re-charted and translated if I have any hope of understand where I am and what I am truly looking for. So on that note, the journey must begin.

Has anyone seen a map?