White Liberal Males,mostly found in used bookstores in Portland or your local pub drinking a fine stout handmade by a guy down the street who grows hops in his backyard. He’s probably sporting a beard he grew all by himself and has a vinyl collection that he can’t wait to show you when he gets you up to his one bedroom urban apartment. If you met him at the used bookstore, he probably pulled out his favorite novel which was probably written by some dead Russian novelist like Dostoyevsky- he loves the Russian classics because his literature professor said they were good. He probably read you a line or two, butchering the Russian names in a fake accent pulled right out of Dr. Zhivago. If you found him at the bar, he probably ordered you a drink, not caring about your preferences, just assuming you like his pretentious pub that serves their stout selections on planks of wood because they’re innovative like that. Your beer tastes like garbage. At this point he probably pulled out some sort of line about how he's such a feminist.
And maybe you fell for it. I don’t judge. I’ve fallen for it so many times myself.
White Liberal Males tend to be exhausting to date and there are a plethora of reason. Most of these reasons will be generalizations or exaggerations of bad past experiences and I only say this as a disclaimer because I’m friends with a lot of White Liberal Males, most of which would be really hurt by this article. But sometimes, it’s great to have a little self reflection.
I think first, we’ll go back to the scene at the pub, or the bookstore, or even the one bedroom apartment where he shows us his vinyl collection and he says that thing, that thing he thinks we’ll find alluring. It’s usually something along the lines of, “Ugh all men are garbage!” or “Women get so much crap.” or maybe it’s some reference to politics of today like, “I think Hillary Clinton would have made a great president.” or even, “My mother is my biggest role model,” Which if you hear that last one, run! But the point of this line is to separate themselves from the other guys. They aren’t like those horrible jerks who catcalled you on your way to the table at the pub or the guy on the street who grinned and nodded at your figure in that dress you wore to the bookstore. They aren’t like our current president. Heck, some guys will straight up say, “I’m a total Feminist.” as if believing in equal rights is something to brag about. It can be gross, it can be toxic, but we still fall for it, believing, somehow, maybe he isn't like other guys. Maybe he’s alright. But we learn later, this is a total lie. He might be a feminist, maybe. Or he might say he is a feminist because he knows you like that. But at the end of the day, he still perpetuates the everyday toxicity found in our patriarchal culture.
The next fun part of dating a White Liberal Male is when their sexism comes through and you feel like you need to call out his sexism, whether it be something he did, or said or even accepted as if it’s “how things just are.” You feel like you need to call it out. Let’s say, he said something crappy while playing video games. He might have said, “Ugh, b****” and you said, “Hey, you shouldn’t say that.” and he said, “Oh, no, that’s just what I say with my friends while gaming” and you say, “Well it’s offensive. and maybe he might apologize and it'll be insincere, but the conversation where you call out his sexism comes down to this: “I swear, I’m not sexist.” It’s usually met with some sort of explanation, like I wasn’t raised to be sexist, or even “I voted for Hillary.” Either way, their actions are dismissed as being a one time thing and not something defining their character. But this behavior doesn’t end. Even when more situations come up, they still defend themselves and their honor, claiming they could never be sexist. They’re perfect liberals.
The next parts tend to get harder because at this point, you’ve fallen for your White Liberal Male. Maybe you’re thinking about settling down. At this point you kind of want to start your post college career. You’re entering your thirties after all and your temp job isn’t suiting you. College was fun. You learned a lot. But here’s the tick: now you’re beginning to discuss all of the intricacies of family planning with your partner and you find that there’s a lot of personal opinions they haven’t talked about. For example, the wedding. You for one, don’t really see the point of having a traditional wedding. Your liberal arts teacher told you all about the history of weddings and how weddings tend to symbolize giving up women as chattel for money and that just doesn’t sit right with you. You also don’t want to give up your last name because you have your own name. Even the idea of calling it your “maiden name,” grosses you out. You’re not a maiden. You’re a women with a career. But he insists on a traditional wedding, because it’s what his mother wants. He told you on his first date that he really cares about his mom. I told you to run. And then you kind of realize, that sure, maybe he is a feminist and believes in equal rights but because they don’t personally affect him the way they affect you, then they don’t matter as much. They can be tossed aside for a moment. It’s just a wedding after all. It’s just your future. It’s just your agency and the rights of your name and your personal identity that’s defined your whole life. What does it matter if he’s not personally affected. Not everything has to be political.
And it’s this reason why White Liberal Males are so exhausting to date- because they don’t get it. They’re never understand the experience of someone less privileged than themselves. They don’t know why the things they do are toxic. They don’t understand that the best way to be a good ally, especially in a romantic relationship is to take a person's word for it if they say you’re perpetuating the toxicity. And to not get frustrated and defensive if you’re called out and to not think that just because you are liberal, you are incapable of contributing to the inequity that women and people of color face on a daily basis. Because, every single day sometimes feels like a battle when sex and gender become important in the moment, which they do- it can be exhausting and scary. It’s a lot easier if you try to understand and believe us when we tell you you’re being gross. The maybe you wouldn’t be so exhausting to date.