I went on this first date last week with a softboy of epic proportions. Unprompted, he made sure to let me know that all of the many political podcasts he listens to are from black perspectives, and that I’m the first white girl he’s dated in months. “I’ve dated five black girls in a row. Not dated any brown girls though. The brown community just isn’t interested in what I’m offering.”
Clearly “the brown community” is picking up on some giant red flags that I somehow missed.
I’m still not sure how I was supposed to respond to that. If dating hot girls from other races is proof that you’re woke, then there are a lot of mid-life-crisis-having white men with 19-year-old Asian girlfriends that I’ve been wrongly dismissing as racist, exoticising assholes. But that’s a whole other article.
Conversation was a struggle here, for obvious reasons. About halfway through the date, by the time I was praying someone would put me out of my misery, he asked what my friends and I talk about.
“I don’t know. How bad our Bumble dates are going.”
“Really?” He asked.
I think he missed the hint.
“Yeah, usually the stories are pretty entertaining.”
“Is that all you talk about? Are you really that vapid? Do you never talk about politics?”
Politics, of course, being the only intelligent conversation topic that counted.
“No, not really.”
It’s not that politics isn’t important. Getting involved has never been so important, even as someone who isn’t in the US. Still, it’s not something my friends and I talk about unless one of us is participating in an upcoming protest. It’s the same as talking about how cold it is in winter. It’s an unpleasant series of events that we all agree on and know about. We don’t argue about it, because we largely all agree on the major issues. Ranting about it doesn’t fix anything, and, frankly, being around my closest friends makes me happy and focusing on the negative is not something I want to do when I’m spending valuable time with them.
Still, his question did get me thinking. I wanted to validate myself. I tried to think of all the “non-vapid” things that we talk about. Science? No. Philosophy? No. Classic literature? No.
Do I pass the Bechdel test, most of the time? What do we even talk about? Was he right about me?
I do talk quite a bit about boys, because that’s usually the most entertaining thing going on in my life and it’s validating to hear other women’s stories and confirm that I’m not alone in my crazy, weird, unpleasant, scary experiences. If wanting to be loved is vapid, then, humanity is vapid.
Sometimes, we talk about hair and makeup. We talk about shopping. We talk about puppies and being skinny and dance classes. Sometimes, this is entirely vapid. Sometimes, makeup is about being taken seriously, and sometimes dance classes are about being strong. Everyone is occasionally frivolous, it’s just worse when you’re a woman and you’re being frivolous about pumpkin spice lattes instead of sports cars, or yoga instead of bodybuilding, or skincare instead of partying.
We talk about work, too. We talk about feminism, and we talk about our creative projects. We talk about side hustles and mortgages and blockchain. We talk about travel and food and jumping off cliffs. We talk about depression and grief.
So yes, I pass the test. I am a smart, capable woman who doesn’t spend all her time talking about boys, and I can prove it.
Now, all I need to do is go on fewer terrible dates, so I will spend less of my time qualifying my own intelligence to the kind of men who think dating black girls makes you a good person.