Samantha Brett: Feminism And Other “Deal Breakers”
Posted by Clem Bastow on September 3, 2008
Anyone who’s ever gone on a date, even if they don’t use the phrase, will be familiar with the concept of ‘deal breakers’ – you know, the little “bup bow” details that, superficially or not, turn you off a romantic prospect. For some people these are things like not wanting kids or voting for the Natural Law Party, for me it’s jandals and Oedipal complexes, for others it might be eating with one’s mouth open or a large collection of Ringo Starr solo discs. In other words, it’s just another of the myriad foibles that make us human and that make the mating game such a nightmare joy.
So, with so many possibilities out there for blog fodder, what do you think Samantha Brett (who, incidentally, seemed to have no problem crossing the picket line during the recent Fairfax journalists’ strike by filling in for striking columnists in the SMH) chose to highlight as possible deal breakers in a blog on the topic? Tattoos, nice men (because, you know, we’re all looking for rough, bad boy types), men who take ‘too much’ pride in their appearance (or to use her parlance, “When your boyfriend looks like a Dolly Magazine cover model and has better pecks than you do” – presumably she means “pecs” and not hens), and, naturally, feminism:
One frustrated reader who we’ll call S, reckons because she’s a feminist, she’s simply not datable.
“All my life I’ve been proud to call myself a feminist, even though it has sometimes caused me a few problems,” she writes. “I’ve always insisted that my boyfriends and lovers respect my feminist values, otherwise I was happy to give them their marching orders. But now I’m getting older and I find myself still single. My last boyfriend actually dumped me because he said that dating and feminism just don’t mix! Was he right? Is it time for me to forget my politics and focus on romance? Or can I have both? The clock is ticking – please help!”
If you’d like to place bets on whether “S” is a) an actual feminist, b) actually a reader and/or c) actually Samantha Brett, I have good odds on the answers being a) no, b) as if, and, c) duh.
My issue with this piece is not that Brett has suggested feminist values might be deal breakers to some potential partners, because that’s a conceivable, if not pleasant, situation (as The Louvin Brothers once said, Satan is real!). It’s that it’s such easy boot-in fodder for her post-fem audience and tone to suggest that feminism is a big turn-off to men – and that the example given, whether or not “S” is real, is such a naff, Ally MacBeal-esque depiction of a feminist (“Ooh, men can bow down and worship me, hear me roar, etc etc, except oops I forgot to have kids, quick, to the little white wedding chapel!”) and implies that it’s impossible to experience love and romance from within a relationship based on mutual respect and equality.