A (male) friend and I were discussing our love lives and I issued the blanket statement that I don't bother with anyone who doesn't actively pursue me. I don't have the time or patience for any man who doesn't feel I am worth that level of effort. My friend accused me of being old fashioned about courtship. Then he points at me accusingly and says, "And I thought you were a feminist!"
I am. Obviously I am. I don't think I'm exactly old fashioned about courtship. I'm not really big on commitment or formal agreements. I'm not terribly interested in marriage. I tend to see dating as a sort of bizarre sport one plays to keep busy and social and entertained on those nights when one's friends are too busy to get together (which may not be a healthy attitude - but I'm okay with that). I'm actually very much like the male stereotype in that sense. I have spent a great deal more of my adult life casually dating than in serious relationships. When I have found someone so pleasant as to induce me to make a commitment (which has happened several times), I still expect to be pursued on some level.
It's not that I want any man in my life to be a pushover, far from it. I just want him to be willing to take the extra step, put forth some effort. I don't want anyone flinging themselves at my feet, which I detest. In the awkward social politics of dating, the subservient beau is the equivalent of prey that has already died. There's no effort required and, therefore, he loses all appeal.
I just don't like to be the one who's running around after someone. It's undignified. Messy. And, admittedly, not very ladylike. Men look dashing when they pursue someone, women look harried or needy. It might be wrong but it's most often true. Some few women can pull off the role of predator without loss of dignity. I am not typically one of them. I don't see the point in bothering with a man who doesn't think I'm worth the effort of initiating a phone call or a dinner invite and sending the occasional card or bouquet. I'm not particularly a fan of flowers. I AM, however, a big fan of knowing someone felt it was worth the trouble to get them. That's what is so great about flowers. Sure, they're pretty. But it's really an important sign of effort when sent by a potential suitor and THAT is the real appeal.
The problem is, I had a hard time trying to figure out how to explain to my friend WHY my attitude toward dating is far from anti-feminist. I'm not saying I would never be the first to ask a guy out or make the first move. On the whole, however, I perceive the more powerful position to be that of the pursued and not that of the pursuer. As long as a girl isn't spending her nights waiting by the phone (I hope none of us are still doing that. Talk about an outmoded idea of appropriate dating behavior!), then I don't see how it makes me less a feminist to prefer to be in the driver's seat. Make no mistake, the person doing the chasing is always in less control than the person being chased. The person being chased chooses when and if they wish to be caught.