Feminism | Posted by Julie Z on 01/29/2010

To Have a Boyfriend…

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There are a lot of things that suck about high school. For one, getting up after about four hours of sleep because of some ridiculous paper I forgot was due and started at 11. Also, having to pick out an outfit that won’t make me look like I escaped from a mental institution. Another one is the “boyfriend” issue. I always get asked by parents (mine AND others) and other various clueless adults seeking insight into our world, if having a boyfriend is still all that important to girls. Without even getting into the “it’s not an assumption that all teenage girls are heterosexual…it’s a fact in my mind” issue of misguided adults, they also reason that girls have as many extra-curriculars as boys (as if boys used to be our after school activity?), and we are more independent (okay…) so why is having one still as important?

Now, I personally can only speak to why girls have boyfriends, but the first thing they have to realize is that girls don’t have boyfriends because they’re so ridiculously insecure and desperate that they can’t exist without some guy agreeing to pay for their pizza every once in a while. Well…most of the time.

First, there’s the obvious fact of our raging hormones. I think people underestimate girls and their hormones. Just because we’re capable of controlling them doesn’t mean we’re not as affected as guys. I know I have a friend whose conversational repertoire is that of eating and hooking up. She’s actually worse than most guys I know. I’m not sure that’s really something to be proud of, that some girls are that single minded, but its true and its something that’s accepted for boys.

Mostly, I think it’s because having a boyfriend is fun. A boyfriend (a good boyfriend, anyway) is there for you when you want to talk and generally cares about you.

Also, it seems like a lot of the time girls have boyfriends so that people will pay attention. Like, on facebook, everyone knows that that little heart symbol is the most clicked on link in the mini-feed. You’re announcing to everyone that someone likes you; someone thinks you’re pretty, funny, nice, whatever: you’re worth it. A lot of the time that real connection isn’t even there: its just affirmation.

So, there’s status. Even if two people who aren’t popular at ALL get together, they’re talked about. Even if no one cared about him or her singularly, together they get talked about, even if it is in more of a surprised way than a jealous way.

I don’t think having a boyfriend is bad. I don’t think it’s anti-feminist. People at my school assume I don’t have a boyfriend because I’m a feminist (or that I’m a lesbian. They’re very creative). I guess they think that the only way a girl can be independent is if she doesn’t have that overwhelming influence of a guy. Well, guess what? Girls can still have their own opinions AND have boyfriends! Yes, we ARE able to overcome the overwhelming power and intellect of teenage boys! Their extreme brilliance and ideals do NOT sway us in any way! Puh-lease. Teenage boys don’t know what the hell is going on.

I know in my life, having a boyfriend has made a difference. Even if its not really discussed or pointed out, I know when I’ve been in relationships, some girls (who also had boyfriends or who just think they’re hot) would talk to me more, respect me more (because that’s just a display of my talent-Look, I caught one!). But the thing is the difference was never personal. I was always the same person, just treated differently.

So my question is this: why or why don’t you have a boyfriend? Status? Fun? All of the above?

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  • Lynn @ at 3:43 pm, July 16th, 2009

    There are so many different reasons that girls decide to enter into a romantic relationship that it’s sort of hard to pinpoint one or two specific causes. I think that you’re right in the idea that it’s something of an affirmation that you’re special, and cared about, and it’s also a great status simple. I don’t know how many stupid fights I’ve seen between girlfriends that end with, “Well, at least I have a boyfriend!”, or, even worse, “My boyfriend’s so much hotter then yours is anyway”. It’s when we start treating our relationships like accessories that I start to see a problem.

    At the same time though, relationships can be a healthy way to explore who we are, and what makes us happy. My current boyfriend and I have been together for 6 months now, and, in all honesty, the beginning of our relationship was pretty much founded on sex. That used to really embaress me, but we were lucky, and in growing closer because of our hormones, we also grew closer emotionally, which really lays the groundwork for any healthy couple. My best friend, however, is currently in a relationship because, to quote her exactly, “I was bored, and wanted someone to have fun with.” WHAT? Now I’m not really sure how healthy that is- entering into a commited relationship just for the sake of having something to do, but I’m not sure it’s fair to my friend, or her boyfriend.

  • Emma @ at 11:33 pm, July 28th, 2009

    I think I read about too many great fictional boyfriends to ever get the concept of me actually having one… plus I’m just in eighth grade. And there goes my inner nerd acting up again!

  • Jess @ at 12:23 am, August 4th, 2009

    When I was starting high school i felt like I needed to have already had a boyfriend because then I’d seem likeable and cool. Needless to say, that relationship didnt work. So then i moved on to someone older. Four years older. So many people knew who i was which was great considering i knew very few people. But that wasnt the only reason I dated him. He made me feel older and mature. Still there were more than enough people telling me he was too old, including myself. He knew how to manipulate my mind and it made me crazy but i couldnt get enough of him and was convinced i was in love. Eventually i realized i wasnt ready for a relationship especially with someone so much older.
    Looking back i wish that i had handled things differently but now i realize its made me wiser about relationships.
    so basically i think having boyfriends are good experiences that shape you into someone stronger and smarter so that you do things right when it really counts.

  • KS @ at 9:55 pm, November 12th, 2009

    I do admit that I feel the need to have an experience with relationships before I go off to college in a few months, but regardless, I have never had a boyfriend not becuase I’m a feminist but becauase it has never been my priority. There has been so many things that interested me far more than flirting with pubescent boys or putting amateur make-up on my face. I don’t believe in searching for relationships –I think it’s something that happens naturally. Until then, I’m off continuing with other interests.

  • Hannah @ at 12:10 pm, January 29th, 2010

    To put in the two cents for teenage boys: mine helped me come to feminism!

  • Amy CT @ at 1:43 pm, January 29th, 2010

    “People at my school assume I don’t have a boyfriend because I’m a feminist (or that I’m a lesbian. They’re very creative).”

    – I get that a LOT. Why do people jump to that conclusion?!

  • Zoe @ at 1:46 pm, January 29th, 2010

    I have always wanted and continued to want a boyfriend for the following reasons: I enjoy being in a relationship with someone who cares about me and who I care about, and because I like sex. A lot. End of story. I don’t think it’s more complicated than that for a majority of people, feminist or not.

  • Steph @ at 3:54 pm, January 29th, 2010

    Why don’t I have a boyfriend?
    Good question. I think it’s probably because I’m a raging dyke, but y’never know, do you?

    And I’m going to second Zoe’s comment that sex is awesome.

  • Emily @ at 3:59 pm, January 29th, 2010

    I don’t have a boyfriend for many reasons:

    1) I am a senior, and I don’t want that situation this fall where you have to decide whether to keep it long distance or break up

    2) There is honest to God no one I’d want to date at my school

    3) There are no feminist boys at my school

  • Jordi @ at 6:36 pm, January 29th, 2010

    I got into my first relationship for the novelty of it. I liked the idea of having someone always there for me and the way the rest of the group revolved around the couple. Soon the novelty wore off but I stayed with the guy for another two years because he became a really close friend who I cared a lot about and we did have fun together. The ‘popular’ girls did talk to me about my relationship on occasions when before they didn’t even look at me. But they just wanted to know if we had sex yet :)
    I’m now single. Why? Because having a boyfriend is not a priority of mine, never was. I value myself for who I am and what I achieve rather than who I’m with.

  • Alex Catgirl @ at 9:58 pm, January 29th, 2010

    I always get asked by parents (mine AND others) and other various clueless adults seeking insight into our world, if having a boyfriend is still all that important to girls.

    ohh I know what that question means,and it depends on how old the adults are.

    Back in the day, when people use to dress like the people in your picture, dating was this huge ritual,right of passage, it meant you had begun looking for a husband :D :D :D

    Girls would *pine* over dorks I wouldn’t give the time of day too, they would wait around for the dorks to come calling…as in coming to your front door and meeting your parents and other bizzaro world stuff!

    You have to watch Turner Classics to see unbelievably dorky people were back then, I thought the screen writers made it up, but mum and grandmother say no, it really use to be like that.

    So NO! having a boyfriend doesn’t matter *that* much any more.

  • Alex Catgirl @ at 10:26 pm, January 29th, 2010

    So my question is this – why or why don’t you have a boyfriend? Status? Fun? All of the above?

    Like Jodie, I started dating for the novelty of it, and I quickly devolved into your friend who hooks up all the time. idk why I did half the stupid things I did or what I ever saw in some of those boys, who as you say don’t have a clue as to what is going on. I discovered that I liked girls better at some point, they have more of a clue and far less bullshit.

  • Anji @ at 6:23 am, January 30th, 2010

    This is a great post but this – “Also, having to pick out an outfit that won’t make me look like I escaped from a mental institution.” – was pretty darned ableist. Was there not another analogy you could have used which didn’t disparage people with disabilities? :/

  • kanadra @ at 11:52 pm, January 31st, 2010

    I have a boyfriend because he’s someone i like and get along well with. He respects me and treats me well, and does his best to understand me. I know I can be very happy without a boyfriend, and I don’t need to be in a relationship for “status” or recognition (I prefer being mostly unknown, anyway).

    Your passage about the “brilliant” minds of teenage boys amused me. :)

  • O'Phylia @ at 1:29 pm, February 1st, 2010

    1. The boys who want to date me just want to get in my pants.

    2. I don’t want one.

  • PatriarchySlayer @ at 2:06 am, February 2nd, 2010

    Well, see this is the question that most people ask me in horror when I tell them I’m 25 and haven’t had a boyfriend and currently have no prospects.

    I want to have a relationship. But to me, it’s not about actually being in a relationship as it is finding the man you want to be with.

    No one has ever interested me enough to get into a relationship. Sure this has to do with the fact that I’m not willing to settle or compromise on certain things. But that’s just as well. Honestly, except for the lack of sex and not being able to have that experience of being with someone, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on a lot right now.

    Maybe in 5 years I’ll feel differently, but right now, it’s too much work weeding through the sexist, entitled, lazy bastards to find one that might be compatible with me mentally, physically and spiritually.

    Look at that I’m tired just thinking about it.

  • kimi @ at 9:10 pm, February 2nd, 2010

    Just like Emma was saying, I read about to many fictional characters that seem so amazing, so my bar is set to very high standards.

  • Alison @ at 4:42 pm, February 3rd, 2010

    For me its a mixture of what was said above.
    I know that a lot of guys at my school feel mildly intimidated by me, I enter their zones and they don’t like it!

    I mean I’m taller than 75% of guys in my year, I get better grades than the majority of them and finally I have an opinion, most notably about football (soccer) which is encroaching hugely on their territory!!

    I wouldn’t mind having a boyfriend but most guys seem to think that girls will suddenly become dependent on the guy, boosting their ego, I’m sorry but not going to happen!!
    I was once told “OMG your such a feminist” by one of my guy friends in a less than polite tone, since when did feminism become a dirty word??? And so what anyway, when did having an opinion become a turn off?

    Sorry for my ramblings just really needed to vent about this!!

    x

  • SarahC @ at 4:46 pm, February 11th, 2010

    Part of it is that I’m kind of scary to the guys at my school. At least, seeing me as female is scary to them. In a lot of ways, I interact as one of the boys, and I’m not feminine in any sense of the term.

    I have to say though, my favorite variety of this question that was asked me was may an old woman my father worked for. “Sarah, do you have a boyfriend?” “no.” “good.”

  • Beth @ at 1:41 pm, February 15th, 2010

    Humans work well in pairs. There’s a lot of stuff that’s been built up around it, but I think that’s what it boils down to. Living is a difficult endeavor that is made easier and safer and more fun through use of a buddy system.

  • petroula kwstidou mouni @ at 4:01 pm, March 4th, 2010

    final step

  • Mr. Happy @ at 6:58 pm, May 20th, 2010

    I noticed any sexist statements in this, such as how you say “Just because we’re capable of controlling them doesn’t mean we’re not as affected as guys” which very explicitly implies that guys cant control their hormones. Also “teenage boys don’t know what the hell is going on”. Must I go on? You feminists are really sexist

  • Natasha @ at 11:44 pm, September 20th, 2010

    @Mr.Happy I noticed those too, try not to label all feminists this way though, that would be painting with a very broad brush. I’m a woman and a feminist and I’m not okay with those statements either.

  • Suzanne @ at 2:49 pm, September 21st, 2010

    I have been a feminist for as long as I can remember, and in high school (I’m British so high school for me was from being 11 to being 16)I think I kind of used this as an excuse to keep my distance from an intimate relationship because I wanted to concentrate on getting good grades and not put my heart on the line. However I did have lots of close friends who were boys and I’m now 17 and have been dating one of them for nearly a year. He is a feminist (woop!) and has convinced me that being with a boy doesn’t mean I have to abandon any of my much-treasured principles.

  • Emily @ at 10:39 pm, November 20th, 2010

    I so didn’t want a boyfriend until I met this one guy and frankly he is a bit of an ass and he acts like because I’m a feminist I’m A. a lesbian B. I think all men are useless C. I can never ask a guy for help because its against feminist code or D. all of the above. Like I said ass, so with him I use the feminist thing as a sheild and he uses it to bother me to no end. I also think guys stray away from feminists because they feel like being a feminist is like anti guy and guys want to feel needed.

  • C @ at 5:51 am, January 20th, 2011

    Personally, I side midway. At the moment, there are far more important things going on in my life, and I wouldn’t be able to have the time to dedicate to having a committed boyfriend, and that would be both unfair on him and me, but then, since I have only been very brief, short relationships, I guess there is a part of me that is curious to see how things would pan out if I stuck things out this time round. Not that I need to feel secure or anything, but I do have a belief that when you are in a relationship, you learn more about yourself and grow as a person, so in terms of developing yourself, I do think it’s important, but not totally essential.

  • Natalia @ at 9:46 am, January 27th, 2011

    Surprisingly enough, I was very boy-crazy throughout elementary, junior high, and high school. That meant that I always had a crush on at least two guys. But all I wanted was a boyfriend. Honestly, I don’t know why. I think it was an insecurity issue but also, I just wanted someone who would always be there for me. Then I had my first serious relationship when I turned 18. We’ve now been together for two and half years and it’s been really great. And yeah, it is totally possible to date and be a feminist. The key is to date someone who actually is a feminist themselves (they most likely won’t say it at this age, but if they do all the housework themselves and don’t rely on women for stupid things, then they’re a keeper).

  • Grey @ at 2:06 am, February 9th, 2011

    I’m 16, bisexual, and still don’t have a boyfriend or girlfriend, nor have I ever been kissed.

    I’ve heard plenty of jokes before that bisexuals have no excuse, seeing they can be attracted to anyone. But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I may also be aromantic (no interest in romantic relationships). Doesn’t mean I’ll never have a boyfriend or girlfriend. Just means it’s not my top priority and that if I do have one, cool, if not, I still don’t really care. ‘Course I’m still interested in sex and am secretly a perv.

    The only times I worry about it is when someone is surprised that I’ve never dated or (gasp) been kissed. It makes me think: Maybe I should get someone just to get the relationship virginity thing over with. But besides that, I honestly don’t really worry about it.

    Am I the only one? o.o

  • Bunny @ at 7:47 pm, March 4th, 2011

    @Grey

    You’re not the only one. I’m heterosexual, not bisexual, but I didn’t have a relationship until I was almost 19; had only kissed one guy a few times when I was 17, and those uncomfortable experiences were enough to make me realize that I wanted to wait until I met somebody I was actually interested in as a person, and as a life companion.

    For a number of reasons, most of which were attributed by my classmates to the fact that I’m “weird”/”intelligent”, it took me that long to meet anybody I wanted to date. I think it definately gets easier to meet a wider variety of people when you leave school, so you’re right not to worry about it, especially if it isn’t a big priority for you now. So my advice would be to hold on until you find a person you love and trust before you become physically intimate. The mind and the body and the soul are connected; what affects one affects the others. Wait until it feels right, and most importantly, don’t do anything unless it makes you happy x

  • Desiree @ at 8:59 pm, April 19th, 2011

    I’m 19 and never been in a proper relationship. I’ve only been in one relationship to be frank, and it was a disaster. I didn’t even need a boyfriend back then, all i wanted was companion (cause my house used to be haunted, & all i have is guy friends, and so i began liking this guy just bcos we got closer when we started hanging out more often. i didnt like him initially, and even when we got into the relationship, i still didn’t like him that much.)
    it was a stupid mistake. So you shouldn’t have a boyfriend just only for convenience.

    I’m now single and not really looking for one. I’d love to have one, but I just couldn’t bother to take the effort to look- i don’t know why. I Want to have a boyfriend, so that not only i feel loved (who else can you kiss passionately? lol), companionship, and a person who i can share a part of myself with (like interests and things that i love to do)

    i dont care bout status, or anything like that. it’s dumb to think what others might think of you. Do what you think is right, do what you like. :)

  • Lucy @ at 6:50 pm, May 3rd, 2011

    The “i dont need a man” mentality is bullshit imho… Nobody NEEDS companionship, its just preferable for most. And poor men, their feelings are always ingnored or belittled. Feminism is an empowering movement for women in a time where not everyone is aware that WOMEN AND MEN ARE ALL EQUAL. The only way you could say feminism isnt sexist is to say “i dont need a woman” as well. For lesbians that would be denying companionship and JUST AS STUPID. I hope im making sense here, basically i think its ridiculous to claim not to need companionship as a means of keeping your own independence. Depending on a partner is fine. There should really just be a movemet that strengthens independence in conjunction with relationships.

    Im just an 18 year old and Ive gotten into my first relationship with a boy who deeply cares about me, and I for him. We probably wont last but our friendship has allowed us to depend on each other without gender playing a role hardly at all. Its beautiful. I didnt want a boyfriend for the longest time, until I met him. I had one when i was in fifth grade and broke up the next day (i know, trite) because it DIDNT FEEL RIGHT. Its simple: you shouldnt be with someone unless it feels right.

    Keep your own independence; allow yourself to depend on others. All comes down to balance really :) Enjoy your relationships!

  • Mercedes @ at 6:56 pm, November 4th, 2011

    I started dating because I liked someone and went for him. It had nothing to do with status or to affirm that feminists could still be capable of being independent while having someone to say “I love you” to on the phone. I think it goes the same way for lesbian feminists as well. When they date another female, chances are it was because they mutually like each other. I just find it a pity that in this world there ARE feminists who think it goes against their ‘principles’ or whatever to date because they are feminist. That just seems ridiculous.

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