Men, Feminism, and a Modern Woman

I wanted to post my story somewhere, so I thought here is as good as any.

I wanted to share this to get the advice from other people out there who have been facing this same thing.  While support and understanding are nice, and this will also be therapeutic for me, what I’m hoping for here is guidance.  Ultimately, right now, I am totally and completely at a loss, and it seems the more I try to understand, the more lost I get.  I’m not able to find a way through any of this.

As the title says, I’m just an average modern day woman.  I considered myself a feminist in high school, but it wasn’t until around 5 years ago that I became “vocal” about it.  I started going to marches, and started asking why I wasn’t getting promoted at work.  And during this time, my life has not seen any real commitment from men, and it certainly isn’t for lack of trying.  Over the years, I’ve repeatedly tried, and failed, to get anything beyond a second date, much less a boyfriend or a steady partner.

Trying Online Dating

At one time I had around 5 dating profiles, including OKCupid, Plenty of Fish, Craigslist ads, and a few others.  For OKCupid and Plenty of Fish in particular, in all, I probably sent out over a thousand messages, and only ever received a handful of replies.  I would need to send out 50 or 60 before I got even one response.  I tried dozens of profile rewrites, and watched instructional guides on how to write a profile, but nothing changed.  I did mange to get around 15 or so dates.

The few that actually did show up were generally ones who dressed up their online profiles claiming they were feminists, “body positive”, and “sex positive”, and always said they were looking for a LTR.  So to be honest, I had expected at least *something* to happen in that direction!  Like, a call the next morning, or a second date (I mean if you’re looking for a LTR, you’d expect at least that, right?)  But when we went out and they asked what I did, then found out I was educated on top of being a feminist, they’d sit across from me, disinterested, speak in a flat tone with very little emotional affect, withdrawn, talk about extremely mundane things, maybe order a sandwich, and then leave, usually with only a handshake, if that, and then never contacted me again.  I became confused as to what they think “feminist” means, if this is how they react when we’re in person.

I’ll speak more about myself in a moment, but usually around this time, I understandably get questions about what I must be doing on these dates.  Am I doing something, and am not aware of it?  I’m actually a financial consultant, and am a well respected member of my team at the firm where I work.  I’ve designed and teach classes on finance and marketing, and I’ve also given public talks.  The courses and materials I’ve written have been endorsed by my company.  Added to that, I’m also a former marketing exec, so I know how to run a business both front end and back end.  (Given how this is often received, I can understand why we don’t see women in STEM fields.)

Moreover, I have lots of friends at work, and I’m the woman people often come to when they need advice.  That makes this puzzle all the more frustrating to solve, as I honestly can’t figure it out.

To deal with most dates not showing up, and the dates that do show up being so extremely withdrawn, I decided to stop trying that, and went on instead.  This allows you to find social meetups all around the city where you live.  That way, I know for certain that people are definitely going to show up, and there’s a better chance of meeting someone.  It just seems like a more efficient method.  But this hasn’t worked either.

At any given dating meetup, I’ll speak to someone for 2 minutes (often times less than a minute), and they seem to get scared off.  Admittedly I’ve only gotten feedback a few times, but from what I’ve been told, I’m somehow “overwhelming” and “intimidating”.  I put those in quotation marks because I can’t for the life of me see how I’m either of those things.  Here’s a little about myself and my background.

Some of my Background

I specialized in chemistry and atomic science for 10 years, and spent several years in Germany teaching those subjects. I wrote a few books on those fields which were also used in teaching classes. I switched careers for a short time and became a marketing executive, as I mentioned, for a few different companies. I decided to come back to America about 5 years ago, and I settled in Dallas. I now work as a financial consultant and teach classes in that field.

I *love* studying social science on my free time! I’ve recently spent a lot of time with feminist theory in particular, and wrote a few simple introductory guides on the subject, some of which were picked up by Upworthy. Statistics is another favorite of mine. I’ve been thinking of writing a book on feminism and basically answering all MRA and MGTOW claims, as they often miss the broader social context.  I just found the subject enlightening, and others can have a look if they want.

I like writing articles on modern day issues through the lens of questioning privilege, culture, and oppression. I simply love challenging ideas, having my ideas challenged, and learning new things. I also like learning new things in general, whether it’s academia from Cornell University’s website, or channels like Vsauce or Sci-Show. I sometimes write responses to such things, and I love having deep discussions.

However, I can’t say any of that, because every part of it, from what I’ve gathered, comes off as “intimidating”.  Nearly everything listed there seems to be an insta-kill for any conversation I’m having with a man.  There are times when I can even see their facial expression and body language change as I talk – they start leaning back, arm are crossed, expression changes, and then they find someone else they want to go talk to just moments later.  I’ve even had men get up and leave the table mid-sentence.

It’s come to a point where I don’t know what to do. What about this image is so scary?

But… what else can I say?  I don’t watch TV.  I stopped watching a long time ago because trash-TV became so popular.  I’ve never drank alcohol, never smoked, and never used… and I’ve found mentioning any of these things *also* nearly always elicits a negative response (like clean and sober is a bad thing).  I’ve learned one thing I absolutely should not ever mention are my fitness accomplishments.  I don’t include sugar in my diet, and eat mostly whole foods (spinach, kale, carrots, peas, etc).  Because of this, and because I train consistently, I can deadlift two hundred pounds, and can finish a hundred pushups in under 8 minutes.  Sometimes my arms look too muscular and that’s a put-off as well, so I try to wear long sleeves to cover them up.

Sometimes I feel so frustrated; as if I have to now apologize for making good choices with my life.  I understand a large part of this is that men put women down for being educated or accomplished, but I can’t get my head around having to pretend to be dumb to make a man interested.

Some Case Studies

And there are so many times when I got comfortable and ended up talking casually about a given topic, or about myself, and it ends with a guy being turned off before I know it.  Once I was on an outing with a bunch of others as part of a meetup.  I started feeling comfortable being with the crowd about a half hour in, so one of the guys approaches me and we start talking.  He talks a little about trying to start a business.  I added that I new a little about business too, then talked a little about what I knew.  After a few moments, I notice that he’s gone quiet… I look over at him while we’re walking, and yea… I’ve turned him off.  Alright.  He was trying to start a business, so I thought I’d share some experiences, but okay.  Wrong move.

Another time I was at a friends place, and the guy sitting next to me said he was a “sapiosexual” (someone attracted to intelligence).  I smiled and said I was too, so I started talking a little about what I’ve been reading lately from Soren Kierkegaard.  He went quiet, his facial expression went neutral.  A few moments later, he stands up and goes somewhere else.  Maybe we have a different understanding of what “sapiosexual” means.

Over 5 years, dozens of meetups, and dating sites, the takeaway lesson for me was to just shut the hell up about literally anything I’ve ever done, studied, accomplished, the places I’ve traveled… pretty much everything about me needs to be kept quiet.  So I’ve got alternative answers to the most basic questions I might get asked.  Where do I work?  I just work in an office.  I type letters and stuff.  For a big company.  What do I do for fun?  I like watching cat videos.  And seeing selfies on facebook.  (This again is possibly the main reason we don’t see women in STEM fields — you do it, and you’re forever punished for it.)  Plans for the future?  I hope to have my happily ever after story (if I said my actual plans they’d get scared off).  What do I like?  Um… big strong manly arms?  I mean what else am I allowed to like?  And then there’s “tell me about yourself”, which is the hardest of all because it’s so open ended and I struggle with what to say that isn’t going to be a complete turn off.  I usually mention something briefly about my time in the office, then turn it back over to them and fawn over whatever they say.

Using this method has actually worked…. conversations have gone from ending after 2 minutes to actually lasting a good long while.  It’s also resulted in not one, but TWO followup dates from the meetups!  Neither went very well, and neither resulted in a second date.  One ended with a friendly hug (the one where you’re bent over and lightly patting the other person’s back), and the other ended with a handshake.  But hey, this was still an improvement!

This seems to have worked so far, and I’ll continue using variants of this strategy; remove anything that might present as intelligent, downplay myself by as much as possible, speak as though I’ve never done anything with my life, and give as much focus to the other person as possible.  Maybe once the guy has warmed up to me, he’ll be okay with knowing I’m not a ditz.  (If anyone has had to go through similar experiences, or has a better method, go ahead and let me know how please, that’s why I’m posting this.)

At any non-dating meetups, I’ll just be myself, and break the ice by briefly mentioning some thoughts I’ve had on an extrapolation quantum field theory in regards to the argument of free will, or ask if anyone’s familiar with the Trolly Problem (famous thought experiment in philosophy that examines ethics and moral dilemmas).  Will probably be a hundred times more comfortable at casual meetups.

I’ve just been without a serious relationship now for 5 years and would really like to change that.