When The Personal Becomes Political
On the morning of November 9th, I woke up hoping the night before had been a terrible dream. I had sweat through most of my clothes and sheets in the middle of the night and felt physically ill. I rolled over and grabbed my cell phone, a news alert popped up, “DONALD TRUMP IS PRESIDENT.” I rolled back over, numb. The only other times I have ever felt depression and sadness like that were after a death or a bad break up. That day the true depths of racism and misogyny in America were made real to me, and it was chilling.
My entire life I have always loved white men.Every man I have ever fallen in love with has been white. This has never felt like a problem-- the white boys around me were fun, cool and liked the same music I did, and we were from similar backgrounds. Perhaps I was blinded, sure they said things that I didn’t like, but I wanted them to love me so I let a lot slide.
Things started to change for me about a year and a half ago when I started my feminist podcast, ‘Don’t Waste Your Pretty.’ I interview women who have lived every kind of life, come from every kind of background and we have frank discussions on politics, women’s bodies and sex. After I posted my first episode I got some scathing reactions, not from the women who listened (they loved it), but from men I'd dated. One man told me he, “doesn’t like to hear women talk like that,” and didn’t think I was “that type of girl.” Another man I dated for two years stopped talking to me altogether. I was shocked. I wasn’t doing anything wrong or bad, I was simply giving a platform for women to be honest and real, and for some reason that was just too much for their fragile male egos.
As this was going on Donald Trump was still holding strong and his casual racism and misogyny began to be the norm. The men around me would laugh at it and begin comparing this tyrannical toddler tyrant to Hillary Clinton, saying they were somehow equally awful. Now, I couldn’t let it slide and I didn’t give a fuck if that man loved me or not. My own love for what I thought our country had become and could be was too great to listen to some white man tell me how “hard it is for him.”
Since then, I haven’t been able to date. I can’t put aside all the injustices in the world to have a “cute dinner” with some dude, maybe have too much to drink and maybe have sex. The news alerts on my phone are too frequent and too terrible. When I do let things out I am told that “it will be fine, we will all be okay.” Sadly, I am not able to compartmentalize things like that because some people simply won’t be “okay.” The new civil rights movement is upon us and not speaking out about social injustices is just not acceptable, especially if you are a cisgender white man, who has the privilege to look the other way. Because of this my dating life has turned into the Sahara and it’s become problematic for everyone around me except me. I have even had two very good female friends ask me if maybe I wanted to date women. What. The. Fuck. Is. Going. On?! Just because I am truly seeing the misogyny in most white men doesn’t mean I don’t love them. I love men I really do. I am just trying to navigate dating them in the Trump era.
With the personal being political, we have to look very closely at who we allow into our lives and our bedrooms. Do the men around you acknowledge their privilege? Do they examine social injustices? Or do they just let things slide cause it doesn’t affect their life? Most cisgender white men will let you down at some point and it’s all about how much educating you want to do. I personally don’t want to have to educate a guy before I bring him home, let alone on the first date. I don't know when I'll feel ready to return to dating, or how to deal with the larger questions of race and privilege and politics, but I do know that I have freed up a lot of time and energy by no longer allowing these casually racist sexist fools into my life.
By: Rebecca Zahler