The #MeToo movement has affected a lot of areas of society for the better, but while many people would say that it’s making dating more difficult, I disagree. In fact, I’d say it’s actually the opposite.
The movement has opened up the opportunity for important conversations. #MeToo is really all about opening up communication and spreading awareness of ongoing problems with sexism, sexual assault and harassment and society’s unfair views of how men and women should act. Sound intimidating? It shouldn’t be. If anything, it’s a great opportunity to start talking with romantic partners and dates about their actions and views on gender roles rather than just sweeping everything under the rug and hoping for the best.
It’s prompting men (and women) to start thinking more about consent. I admit that I personally have had sex in the past when I really didn’t want to, simply because I would have otherwise felt like a jerk or worse, a “tease.” I already knew I didn’t “owe” those guys anything, and yet refusal still felt like the wrong response. But it wasn’t until #MeToo that I started thinking about how important it is to listen to what my body is telling me and that it really is absolutely 100 percent OK to say “no” to even a perfectly nice date.
The playing field is finally becoming more level. When two people have different ideas about how each other should behave based on gender or how dating should be viewed in general, they aren’t likely to see each other as equals. #MeToo is very much about feminism and female empowerment (not the emasculation of men, as some see it), but it’s also about both men and women being treated with respect as full human beings. The more people realize this, the happier modern relationships will be.
Women are getting more confident, and that’s a good thing. Rising alongside #MeToo is #CaptureConfidence, aimed to encourage women and girls to speak up more about their wants, needs, and goals. I actually had a previous relationship where I started off scared of showing my true opinions when it came to certain things, and when I finally started expressing myself later on the guy was blindsided by the fact that we were fundamentally just two very different people. Greater self-confidence leads to more openness about who you are and what you want right from the beginning, and this is always a good thing when it comes to dating.
It’s easier now to turn down someone you really aren’t interested in. Psychology Today once ran an entire article on how women often have a difficult time turning down dates they just aren’t interested in. Though it was published four years before #MeToo became a thing, the article’s explanation for this sounds eerily similar to the conditions that spawned the movement in the first place—girls “are socialized to be nice and to be more in touch with their own and other people’s feelings than are boys… Boys, on the other hand, are socialized to be less attuned to people’s feelings, and to win.” #MeToo now not only tells men that no most definitely means NO, but it also encourages women to take a stand and be assertive and confident when it comes to turning someone down.
Dating apps have become more protective of their users. It’s not just people who are changing. Less than a week after the Harvey Weinstein sexual abuse story broke, Tinder launched a new “Reactions” feature that allows users to send warning animations like eye rolls or even throwing a drink in someone’s face to other users who send messages deemed inappropriate. In February 2018, Tinder also announced that it would be adopting the “ladies first” features seen on other dating apps like Bumble and Once in order to give female users more online safety. Likewise, Once also announced this year that it will be adopting a new ratings system to keep users more accountable and civil toward each other (particularly when it comes to female users) on their platform.
Date rape awareness has been on the rise. This is only natural, seeing as people are becoming more woke when it comes to consent and setting clear boundaries. Since Alyssa Milano’s promotion of the hashtag thrust the movement into the public eye late last year, an increasing amount of reports and statistics on sexual assault have grown general awareness on date rape. Yeah, it’s a scary subject, but the more people talk about it, the more likely things will change. A lot of bars and other date hot spots have already begun taking measures to help prevent date rape and keep their customers protected.
#MeToo promotes accountability in both casual and serious dating situations. Going along with the above (and pretty much everything that has been said so far), it should now be easier than ever to hold people accountable for their bad behavior on dates. Whether it’s simply giving a sexist douchebag a bad rating on a dating app or reporting someone who doesn’t take no for an answer, the dating world should be steadily improving for all. At the very least, it’s easier now to have conversations about dates that do take a bad turn, as well as give each other advice on what to do in those situations.
More solidarity among women means a more pleasant dating world. Most women have experienced at least some sort of sexual harassment or abuse at some point (though usual multiple times) in their lives. I know when I started seeing how many people were posting #MeToo on social media, a large part of me was actually relieved that I was so far from being the only one who had ever gone through those experiences. Maybe since we all know where each other are coming from, we can work together to keep the jerks accountable while being happy for one another when we do find a good person to date. After all, real life is not The Bachelor. We’re not all competing for some douche to give us a flower. Let’s have each other’s backs.