August, 2010

THE LINE is Starting a Blogroll!

As the editor of Where Is Your Line?, I have often written about the unique power of the internet and the bold approach of THE LINE campaign takes toward contributing to various conversations with a loud voice about ending sexual violence, empowering people through their sexuality, and beginning conversations on sex and relationships that have never before been started.
Today, I am writing to unveil more powerful voices. THE LINE is a campaign that is centered on this very blog: a central, open, unique, and diverse place filled with contributing ideas and ideals that open dialogues on sex, relationships, violence, feminism, contemporary culture, and more. Writing and sharing information in this electronic format supports a culture, an internet, and a campaign that is open, affirming, and personal. We do not want to be selfish – and we want to keep up!
THE LINE is building a blogroll, and it will continue to grow. Below is a recent listing of blogs we’d like to include, and short statements as to why. We’re looking for submissions- from organization heads, media professionals, and you.
Leave organization names, blog titles, or even just web addresses for some of your favorite voices online in the comments below. Tell us what you want more of and what you want to hear about. By sharing your interests and your other favorite places to read about the issues underneath this campaign, you’re opening our eyes to new information and new perspectives, as well as feedback on what you like to read and in what style.
You can get insight into what we’re reading in the archives and via our twitter feed. Let us know here, on Facebook, or even on Twitter what you’d like us to be reading.
We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

As the editor of Where Is Your Line?, I have often written about the unique power of the internet and the bold approach of THE LINE campaign takes toward contributing to various conversations with a loud voice about ending sexual violence, empowering people through their sexuality, and beginning conversations on sex and relationships that have never before been started.

Today, I am writing to unveil more powerful voices. THE LINE campaign is centered in this blog, and we know how important voices and the action of speaking out can be. And so, THE LINE is building a blogroll, and we want to use it to give you more: more coverage of information you care about, more frequent updates on people and situations we care about, and more variation of topics in our own blogging cycle. We want to talk to you here more frequently, and we want to give you the ability to trace our information – and more – through our blogroll.

As we develop our list of authors and organizations to listed to, we’re looking for submissions- from you.

Tell us in the comments below what you want us to be reading- your own personal blogs, your favorite news sites, your favorite organization news feeds. If you think it’s important, we do, too, and we’d like to include it. You can get insight into what we’re reading in the archives and via our twitter feed. When we post the list, you’ll be able to see it here – and submit quick! We’re hoping to post it within the next week.

Thanks for being involved. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

A Bill of Rights for Women This September

This summer, I gained a new perspective on relationships and women’s empowerment. There are two main reasons for the feminist thoughts in my head – a teacher and the internet.

In the beginning of summer, I was talking to a teacher about relationships and the term “whipped.” (I had told her stories about friends who had let their partners control their every move because they felt that they were “too in love to care.”) Being the amazing teacher she is, she said:

“You have the vagina in this relationship. A man needs you. Regardless if it is for sex, love, or procreation.”

As raunchy as it may be, it’s true: it takes two to have a successful relationship (or more, depending on your own style). There must always be a division of power in order to have a relationship, and when your partner begins controlling every move, it’s more of an imprisonment. When people respect each other, the foundation is set for a strong partnership.

(more…)

Telling the Whole Story

Charlottesville, Virginia is a a relatively peaceful town.  It has been honored by numerous publications as a great place to live and work. In 1998, Reader’s Digest even named it as one of the top 10 places to raise a family .  But despite our glowing reputation, we’ve been in the news several times in recent years for things besides our golf courses — including the disappearance and murder of Morgan Harrington, the murder of student athlete Yeardley Love, and Liz Seccuro’s much-belated justice in her decades old rape case. The University of Virginia, which seems to be at the heart of most of these incidences, was cited in 2009 as a particularly egregious offender in a report on the lack of honesty and transparency in campus sexual assault cases by the Center for Public Integrity.

But in the past month, the University has sent out several e-mails notifying students of attempted sexual assauls in the area around the school.  In all three instances, a stranger accosted a woman and wrestled her onto the ground and into nearby bushes.  All three women struggled and managed to fight off their assailants. The incidences, separated by several weeks, were not committed by the same perpetrator — two women assaulted on the same night reported that their assailant was a young white male with blonde or brown hair, the third woman described her assailant as Hispanic and in his thirties.

Now, don’t get me wrong — the school was right to notify students of these events.  This represents a real risk.  Both occurred in areas where students live, work, and walk through on a regular basis.  What worries me, though, is the constant reinforcement of the “stranger in the bushes” myth.  In this case, it was very literally true.  But we know that upwards of 70% of rapes are committed by a non-stranger.

If students receive notification only when a stranger assaults someone, but never when a friend, roommate, partner, father, uncle, dentist, acquaintance, or co-worker is the perpetrator, we will only become further entrenched in the delusion that we are only in danger when walking alone at night.

This brings me back to a constant conflict I face — as a survivor of a drug-facilitated stranger rape, I nevertheless firmly believe we need to challenge the prevailing belief that most rapes are committed by strangers or that bars are full of men slipping GHB into women’s drinks.  As I sit in my rape crisis hotline advocacy training, we are frequently reminded that most callers, and indeed most victims of any sexual assault, will have been assaulted by an acquaintance, friend, or relative.  Sometimes I feel that my own experience is being erased, negated, and denied.  I struggle to remind myself that this isn’t about me or my experience, and that there is plenty of attention already paid to that specific type of sexual assault- but that doesn’t change the danger of telling an incomplete story of rape and assault to women everywhere, and specifically on college campuses.

We need to move away from the warnings of “ladies, watch your drinks” and “don’t walk home alone.” (That’s not to say we should stop watching our drinks or taking self defense classes, but these bits of advice should not form the dominant cultural narrative on sexual assault.) We need to begin telling the whole story, and telling people the truth.

The situations advocates, professionals, academics, activists, survivors, and other groups work to raise awareness about and prevent are scary, wrong, and unjustifiable – no matter who commits them.

The Y Factor: Getting Men Involved in the Movement to End Rape

Men Can Stop Rape poster via TCADSV.

Men Can Stop Rape poster via TCADSV.

Here’s a scenario:  I’m out to dinner with a group of sophisticated, professional-type couples.  Someone asks me what I do and everyone politely pauses to listen to my response.  I respond that I’m a rape crisis intervention counselor and advocate for rape victim’s rights, and I can literally watch 50% of the group turn off, click, and nonchalantly start to chat amongst themselves about something else.  Meanwhile, the rest of the table will either make sympathetic sounds, perplexedly question why I would choose to “spend my time doing that,” or get wide-eyed and stare at me like I’ve cornered them and they’re planning an exit strategy.

The second group is usually comprised of the women.  The first group – the group of people that seems to think the topic of rape is irrelevant to their lives – consists of men.

By and large, rape prevention education is targeted towards girls and women, implying that rape is a “woman’s issue” and therefore, of no concern for boys.  This strategy has the damaging auxiliary effects of: 1) promoting the antiquated and dangerous belief that a woman is solely responsible for putting on the breaks during sexual activity, 2) communicating to boys and men that they need not concern themselves with such frivolous matters as consent, mutual fulfillment or sexual autonomy, and 3) thereby condoning sexual violence because, you know, boys will be boys.

(more…)

To Answer Jade’s Question…

Photo via the Dr. Laura Program.

Photo via the Dr. Laura Program.

Dr. Laura, the “Number 1 Female Radio Talk Show Host” in America, is in trouble for her recent behavior on-air. When a woman named Jade called in to her show, it began a series of troubling, awkward, and-in the words of Dr. Laura herself- disturbing series of racially-charged events.

Starcasm reported:

Dr. Laura Schlessinger is in a whole lot of hot water after she repeatedly used the N-word while talking with a caller during her August 10 radio show.

The profanity insanity began when a woman called asking for help with her husband’s friends. She explained that she was black and her husband was white and that his friends often said racist things or pretended she wasn’t even there. Dr. Laura asked for examples and the caller said they often asked her “Oh, well, how do you black people like doing this?” and “Do black people really like doing that?”

Dr. Laura cut her off and said she didn’t believe that was racist. The caller eventually asked about the use of the n-word and Dr. Laura responded with the argument that the N-word was used all the time on HBO and that it was OK for black people to say it but not white people, which she thought was irrational. But, Dr. Laura didn’t say “N-word” she actually used the N-word! Repeatedly!

As you might expect, the caller was rather taken aback and it only got worse from there as Dr. Laura jumped up on a precarious soapbox, sharing her opinions on Barack Obama, “black-think” and the NAACP!

The transcript is available at the earlier link.

The blogosphere has been alive since the incident. Bloggers and activists everywhere are upset and troubled by the remarks. But everyone has forgotten about Jade: the woman who called for advice in the first place on what appears to be a troubling relationship. I wanted to answer Jade’s question:

Jade,

Your husband and his friends are out of line. You cannot summarize ANY group into a stereotype- I am concerned as to why they think that you should be the representative for an entire race. It seems a bit outrageous, but the fact that you and your husband fell in love and got married says to me that he is not a “hopeless case.” But he does not understand how offensive he and his friends are being, and it’s clear- so I would bring it up to him and simply state that although he might not see it that way, the questions and comments being directed to you are offensive. You do not speak for your whole race, and every member of your race does not agree exactly on all topics. Explain to him that it hurts your feelings, and that it is starting to make you question your relationship with him:  he should love you and respect your feelings. I mean, if he is like this with you, how would he be towards your children (assuming you have children or plan on having children)? His attitudes toward race are a joke, and this is something that needs to be dealt with now before it escalates and gets out of hand.

Do not keep quiet. Do not let it slide. Do not feel guilty. You deserve to be respected by your husband and his friends.

Is Hooking Up Hurting Our Heads?

Photo via foundphotoslj on Flickr.

Photo via foundphotoslj on Flickr.

A new report, entitled “Sex and School: Adolescent Sexual Intercourse and Education,” is making huge waves in headlines. The study, completed by Bill McCarthy of the University of California Davis and Eric Grodsky of the University of Minnesota (two sociologists, I might add), collected data on youth intercourse, romantic and nonromantic, and youth performance in school.

Some research-style background: the study looked at school attachment, high school GPA, college aspiration, college expectations, problems in school, ever truant, the number of days truant, school sanctions (suspended/expelled), and dropping out. The research was completed with the intention of describing intercourse- which the researchers believe means the survey was primarily completed by those involved in the act of vaginal intercourse. Participants were allowed to self-identify as being in romantic or nonromantic relationships, and were responsible for making the distinction.

If you’ve read some mainstream coverage of the report, you’re probably very confounded by the data: people in relationships and people who abstain from sex do just fine in school (or, at least, do not find that intercourse disturbs their existing patterns academically) and people who hook up simply don’t? That can’t be!

Well, you are right. It isn’t.

Oliver Wang of The Atlantic explains where the coverage went wrong concisely in his article on the report:

Here’s an age-old beef between scientists (social or otherwise) and journalists: the former tend to be exceptionally careful about drawing conclusions from their research. It’s one thing to argue, “Data X and Data Y show a relationship,” it’s another thing altogether to actually argue, “Data X is the cause of Data Y.” This is what’s known as the correlation vs. causality distinction and it is absolutely fundamental to any kind of responsible research methodology and discussion.

The difference between a correlation and a cause may seem minor- after all, why not jump the bridge of conclusions and just make a statement, already?! – but it isn’t. Social scientists would not claim something was a cause if really, data was just correlated. Similarly, they would never call a cause a correlation if it was clear that causality existed. Such is science: you say what is scientifically and methodologically true.

And this is why everyone should actually be reading this report – instead of the coverage. (And why the journalists should pick up a copy, too.) Heather Corrina’s coverage of the report for Scarleteen elaborates on that fine distinction, and why the scientists themselves are not ready to make claims, about hooking up or its effects on student’s academic performance:

This study also can’t tell us much about the academic impact of “hookups” or “flings,” since it doesn’t talk about them nor were those terms used in the study, and adults reporting or classifying teen nonromantic relationships as such may be projecting or making unwarranted assumptions about teens’ nonromantic relationships in doing so. We cannot say what types of romantic or nonromantic relationships intercourse occurred in in the study. All one can state with authority is that the individuals in them either classified them as romantic or non-romantic and/or did or did not mark relationships as meeting the criteria in the list above. Some of the intercourse reported as non-romantic may well have occurred, and probably did occur, in “casual sex” contexts like one-night stands. However, some may have occurred in friends-with-benefits scenarios, via open romantic relationships, or in brand-new relationships which the participants did not yet engage in the above behaviours or don’t yet classify as romantic, or other possibilities. But to classify the non-romantic sex as being about any one kind of relationship, beyond merely non-romantic, is poor reporting and is not supported by the study.

The authors do not ever, in presenting their results, use the word “cause” to connect sex & academic outcomes – they use “relationship” or “association” or “correlation.” This study does NOT show that any kind of sex causesanything to do with academic outcomes, only that some academic outcomes or attitudes do or do not occur when teens are also having intercourse or not having intercourse in certain contexts. Something else McCarthy explained to me was that “the GPA and other outcome data are form the subsequent year so they do have temporal order and correct for selection into sex; however,that selection is not random so we can’t really talk about cause.”

The truth about hooking up and school is that nobody knows how hooking up will effect our performance in the classroom, because that isn’t what this study was about. But in the coverage of the piece, it has become obvious that preconceived notions about sexuality and relationships are present in the pens of journalists.

I may not be a scientist, but I’d like to make some suggestions based on the findings of this report: get some, and get smart.

My Own “Red Flags”

Meeting new romantic interests is often full of mystery. Whether you prefer dating or hooking up, everyone should have ‘red flags.’ These are my top three turn-offs when I’m meeting new flames:

1. The person wants you to act unintelligent- This person might or might not appreciate your individual intelligence, but the end goal is they want you to know how much smarter they are than you, and they want other people to know, too. This is someone who undermines your opinion and intelligence. They are assholes. These actions can lower your self esteem and make you second guess every little thought and action.

2. The person attempts to keep you from spending time elsewhere- This is actually an all-too-common occurrence: how many of us give up friends and family, even temporarily or only slightly, for a new flame? A lot of us have, and many of us could name friends who have sort of drifted after beginning a new tryst. There is a difference, however, between being pre-occupied with a new romance and the person you are with trying to isolate you from people who care about you. This is a classic red flag of an abuser: they want you to be completely isolated and in their control.

3. They only show interest in physicality- I tend to like it when people acknowledge the fact that I have a brain and personality. Some guys treat me like a trophy or new toy, and it’s disconcerting. I understand flattery, but sometimes it’s hard to believe there’s anything underneath.

Breaking the Cycle of Toxic Relationships

Photo via Robert Vitulano on Flickr.

From time to time I like to browse on Cosmopolitan’s online website for various reasons. The other night I came upon an article about breaking the cycles of toxic relationships:

“We were shocked when we heard that the first guy Rihanna seriously dated after Chris Brown had been accused of domestic abuse by an ex-girlfriend. After everything she went through, it would seem as if she’d be repulsed by men with that kind of reputation.

Turns out, the opposite is more likely to be true. “Most of us have a relationship pattern — that same type of guy we keep falling for — and it can work for or against us,” says couples therapist Deborah Dunn, author of Stupid About Men. “It’s not uncommon for women to keep going back to the type that wronged them in the past.” How do you change whom you’re drawn to dating? It’s not easy, but it starts with figuring out where your attraction to these guys came from in the first place. …

All guys have less-than-admirable moments, but there are major tip-offs that your type is bad for you. Consistently feeling worse about yourself as you become more involved with a boyfriend is a giveaway that something isn’t right, says Diana Kirschner, PhD, author of Love in 90 Days. Other red flags: feeling like you have to walk on eggshells around a guy and dropping everything to spend time with him even though he’s proven he wouldn’t do the same for you. And while only you know what your relationships are really like, pay attention if your friends and family disapprove of every man you date, says Gratch.

To alter whom you’re attracted to, you need to believe that what you’ve experienced isn’t how love has to or should be, says Dunn. Ask friends who are happy in their relationships to describe how their guy behaves toward them so you can hear what you’re missing out on. Or if you’re coming off yet another bad breakup, consider seeing a therapist to make peace with the guy who originally wronged you, recommends Kirschner. For extra motivation, picture what your life could be like in 10 years if you’re still choosing men who treat you badly versus men who will care for you in a positive way. Which future do you want?”

After reading this article, I immediately thought about the recent discussions about the “Love the Way you Lie” video by Eminem and Rihanna. I, like Melissa D., was not completely shocked and appalled by the video. Growing up, I have seen many men abuse the women in their lives: my uncle went to jail for physically hurting his wife, and as his children grew up, many of them followed the same path. The oldest of the bunch went to prison for robbery and attempted murder, while the others either became pregnant or developed substance addictions.

I was always taught by my family that if you choose to defend yourself in any situation, you must be able to deal with the consequences- regardless if it led to any physical violence. My brother had a drug addiction and his mood would change constantly- while under the influence, he would often pick fights with me, and I was always the headstrong type, so I naturally argued back with him. He would hurt me, but my parents chose to ignore it because they believed in keeping family issues private and felt I should be obedient, as a woman. I chose to keep my mouth shut instead of speaking up, from that time on.

Looking back at my high school years, I realized that in every relationship that I was in, I always tried to please my partner regardless of their choices and preferences. I always felt immediate attraction to those who were sweet and nice, but when I began a relationship with them, I began to see the negative. (However, I still believed that the “sweet and nice” guy would somehow appear again.)

This article is right in asking, “what future do you want?” We must picture the women we want to be and strive for it. Having a relationship is a beautiful experience, but you must be able to see yourself without anyone else: to have a strong relationship, you must strive to be strong, and always prioritize your health and happiness above all else.

Hey, Bill O’Reilly, Tune In!

Photo via Fox News.

Jennifer Aniston’s new film, “Switch,” is a tale with a provocative beginning: a turkey baster. Her character in the movie uses artificial insemination to have a child alone. That’s right – alone. No boyfriend, no, girlfriend, no partner, no husband, no wife.

“Switch” is about a single mother (and, even though it is a love story, attempts to encompass the theme of choosing to be a mother, alone). For real. And that’s why Aniston did it. In a recent interview, she said:

“Love is love and family is what is around you and who is in your immediate sphere. That is what I love about this movie. It is saying it is not the traditional sort of stereotype of what we have been taught as a society of what family is.”

It’s important that we realize, firstly, that pregnancy, motherhood, and sexuality are closely related. The same gender injustices that plague the openly sexual, the sexually “deviant,” and those affected by sexual violence also impact our understanding and cultural perception of pregnant and parenting women.

And single mothers are always under attack: reports each day, month, and year blame children’s drug addictions, killing habits, and gang violence on single-parent families; the government is constantly snipping away at the economic security of women who aren’t dependent on men, but do need assistance (and recently cut diapers from the Food Stamps list); and now, Bill O’Reilly has some choice words for Aniston and “Switch.” According to ABC News, he thinks Aniston’s film is to blame for destroying the “American Family.”

In O’Reilly’s eyes, Aniston’s comments make her a threat to the American family.

“She’s throwing a message out to 12-year-olds and 13-year-olds that ‘Hey, you don’t need a guy. You don’t need a dad.’ That is destructive to our society,” he said on Tuesday’s “O’Reilly Factor.”

Fox News contributor Margaret Hoover and Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson chimed in on the topic, agreeing with O’Reilly that teens and tweens can’t understand the difference between a mature woman raising a child on her own (Aniston is 41) and a teen having a baby.

“She is glamorizing single parenthood,” Carlson said.

As usual, I’m going to break this down for you: Bill O’Reilly, a conservative white dude from who-cares-where America with a talk show and a sexual harassment suit under his belt, thinks that the film “Switch,” a light-hearted piece about single parenthood starring a fully adult woman, is going to destroy the American family, encourage teen pregnancy, and diminish the importance of fatherhood. He also asserted this while giving single moms about .05 percent of that screen time, filling it with lip service about how “abandoned” mothers do great things every day (presumably, like finding new husbands).

To that, I have much to say.

I was raised by a single mother from the age of four on. This has made me appreciate the importance of love in families, of close-knit and open families, of talking and of appreciating the ones you’re with. I am hardworking because my mother was hardworking, and how: she works a  humble job and sent my brother and I to immensely prestigious private colleges, all with relatively no money or power to ease our growth. We grew up simple and humble. We studied hard and we had a lot of support and a strong sense of values. We are ambitious and intelligent. We stand head-and-shoulders above many of our peers from married families.

My father, on the other hand, is about as in-tune with my family as Bill O’Reilly himself. Normally, this isn’t something I talk about or throw out there, but it’s necessary now. Right now. Right when movies are finally being made that don’t show single mothers shooting drugs and fucking up their lives. Right when actresses who are single adults are unafraid to admit that they will still pursue families. Right when the stigma and shame of being a single parent remains threatened by people like Bill O’Reilly- by straight, white dudes who treat women like shit and want to ensure that all families make room for men, no matter how violent or unloving those men are.

Bill O’Reilly said that single mothers do great things. He was right. Single parents, and especially single mothers, do great things every day. But Bill O’Reilly doesn’t mean it, and he should. I’m interested in how many of the following things O’Reilly knows: that single mothers on welfare complete their Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees, JD’s and Ph.D.’s every day; that single mothers feed entire families while working full-time jobs, often without a hitch; and that when there are hitches, single moms everywhere have proven, year after year and budget cuts after budget cuts, that they have no time to wait on anyone else, and that they will accomplish what they need to – no matter what the time spent, effort involved, or obstacles thrown.

As someone who has been working to empower women in her local communities for some time (not a long time, but certainly longer than Bill O’Reilly), it is hard for me to watch anyone incorrectly summarize what empowerment looks like. There are many routes to empowering women – especially single mothers, who are caught at many intersections of oppression.

For example, single mothers are going to be more likely to be poor than married women, no matter how many children those married women have. Why? The wage gap. If women are already paid less than men, how can women without men in their lives even dream of competing on equal footing? So we need economic empowerment: financial literacy, equal pay, flex-time, and family-friendly workplaces that do not punish working parents.

Similarly, teen mothers (who, unbeknownst to panelists on the O’Reilly Factor, become adult women in no time) face hurdles in completing their educations, and therefore often slip into poverty. So we need educational empowerment: equal access to educational resources, increased scholarships, outreach to women in non-traditional fields of interest, and networking opportunities for everyone in the working world.

Lastly, single mothers also need supports that all women, regardless of familial status, need: cultural equality, healthy and non-violent relationships, workplaces that embrace female leadership, and full equality under the law.

It is hard to believe that “Switch” will actually destroy the American Family, but it may change some minds. It is giving single mothers a voice, and it may alter the way we, as a culture, perceive women who raise children by themselves. It may help us understand their unique situations and it will finally give people everywhere the chance to applaud their accomplishments. And that, I daresay, is not dangerous. Rather, I think it is very important.

It is also hard to believe that “Switch” is going to convince anyone that fatherhood is unimportant. It is hard to believe women at any time in our current economic and cultural state will choose to embark on a road of discrimination and oppression that is known as “single parenthood.” But it is just as hard to imagine that the problems women face have a solution called “fathers” or “husbands.” The solution is empowerment, and the ability to be heard.

Bill O’Reilly may work for a television network, but he’s tuned out to the realities of single motherhood – and it’s offensive.

Why Don’t We Date?


Photo via.

I’ve noticed with my generation that there is a lack of dating. Isn’t dating the way we are supposed to find out if we like someone? It seems like things are working backwards: people meet one another at parties, hook up, and perhaps begin dating after that. I know that there are people out there on dates, but I’ve found that dating isn’t typical among my peers.

I’m confused by this- what is it about dating we hate? Is it too time-consuming for a generation endlessly rushing around? Is it too personable for kids used to the computer screen? According to Journalism professor Daniel Reimold, who interviewed different sex columnists from universities around the country, dating is passé- too boring.

Q: Are monogamy and romance really “dying” on today’s college campuses?

A: Yes, along with dating. The columns’ declarations about their impending deaths are general or symbolic at times, but the sentiments are clear: Students nowadays exist mainly within a casual-sex-centric or “hook-up” culture. It is a socially ambiguous set-up filled with people whom students randomly meet, sleep with, and never see again, and individuals on students’ cell phone speed dial lists available for commitment-free sex after a quick “booty call.”
Collegiate couplings exist, columns note, but they skip the courting period, rushing from straight sex to hardcore commitment at a blistering pace and accompanied by heavy drinking and sexual activity typically from a pair’s first meeting. As a Cornell Daily Sun columnist once wrote, “People here don’t date. They either couple up and act married or do the random one night hook up thing.” A separate columnist refers to the loss of what she calls “dating with a lowercase ‘d,’ ” or the more casual one-on-one activities traditionally known as courting that “on the relationship spectrum … falls after hooking up but before monogamous commitment.”

Is the Internet to blame for our lack of real life social interactions? Maybe dating isn’t casual enough – in many ways, people don’t really talk to one another in person anymore, or at least not in the same or as frequent ways. The thought of meeting up with someone for dinner can be rather intimidating: maybe it’s just easier to meet that person at a party. There’s less pressure and it’s not as awkward. But what are we scared of?

Honestly, I was a bit intimidated to go on a date this summer. This is how it played out: After meeting someone at a friend’s party, he had posted on my facebook wall that he wanted to hang out. After I saw his wall post I sent him a facebook message, and after some back and forth he gave me his cell phone number. I heard my mom in the back of my head: “you have to put yourself out there!” I texted him. Finally, we agreed on meeting up for dinner.

But in the end, it was great! We went to a low-key dinner, and then walked over to Central Park. We even caught a bit of the New York Philharmonic concert and saw fireworks. Sparks did not fly between the two of us, but I’m ok with that. It was a nice night and I’m glad I went out with him. I feel as if we got over the social networking hump- we sucked it up and met up in real life.

Yes, dating can be awkward and uncomfortable, but so can hookups. It may be different, but it’s brave and it’s oftentimes exciting. I’m not suggesting that every relationship needs to start in some antiquated way, but I think dating can be an appealing alternative to randomly hooking-up. I’m not sure why so many of my classmates and friends, and seemingly an entire youth culture, oppose what is a quality, controlled method for meeting new people and exploring new flames.

What do you think?

All Posts from August, 2010