Election seasons are always fraught with relationship tension. But this one — pitting a feminist against a misogynist — seems tougher than usual. Especially when you’re online dating. A study from OkCupid found that 50 percent of respondents would not date someone with opposing political views, a proportion that’s been rising since 2008.
In the past six months I’ve averaged two dates a month. I live in Seattle, a very liberal place. But several times I have realized, mid-date, that I’m in the company of a Donald Trump supporter or apologist. The willpower I have demonstrated in these situations has been nothing short of heroic.
A friend suggested that I ask prospective dates if they’re a Trump supporter before agreeing to meet. I have asked on occasion, but not every time. Somehow texting “Hi, my name is Shannon, do you believe Donald Trump is a misogynist?” doesn’t seem like the best way to start a conversation.
My personal policy is: Text briefly, meet briefly, go from there. Because I do not have the time for long exchanges and rambling first dates. I am busy! I have kids! A career! Friends!
Other online daters tell me it’s best to state your politics in your profile: “No Trump supporters.” I thought about this. But one of my biggest turnoffs (no matter what a guy looks like) is seeing a list of deal breakers. I’ve seen: “no stay-at-home moms,” “no drama,” “no kids,” “no hairdressers” and “no tattoos.”
Framing desires in the negative makes my toes curl. So I won’t put “no Trump supporters” because I’m not trying to attract negative people by being negative.
Instead I put: “Attracted to masculine [men] with a sensitive, feminist side.” That’s right. I use the word “feminist” in my bio. That should weed out the Trump supporters, right?
But no such luck. On dates, I’ve almost fallen off my bar stool once I’ve realized that the person I was just laughing with is a Trump apologist.
As the first-date conversation meanders toward current events, I cannot and do not hide my disdain for Trump. I believe Trump is a misogynist and a bigot, and I make this clear. Once my date realizes this, he backpedals. I will ask: “Are you voting for Donald Trump?” And I will invariably get an answer that is not a straight answer, more like corporate doublespeak. Even if they won’t say it out loud, they go on to recite every ridiculous talking point that is least offensive to reasonable people. Things like: “We need to get someone in there who’s not a career politician! Shake things up! He’s a businessman!”
Then I respond by stroking the Trump supporter’s ego. (Bad news always lands better after you stroke his ego.) I’ll ask how he got so incredibly successful, and he’ll regale me with tales of “hard work” and “sacrifice.” I’ll nod, smile and say “How wonderful. How admirable.” Then I might twist my finger around a strand of hair and casually tell him that the word “politics” translates to “of, for, by the citizens.” Politics isn’t supposed to be about business — it’s supposed to be about people. And Hillary Clinton has much more experience in politics.
Then they get a bit frustrated by my silly opinions, but they still appear to want to have sex with me. I use this to my advantage. I’ll keep listening to their flimsy defenses of Trump, such as: “At least I know what he’s thinking, unlike most politicians. That’s refreshing.”
At this, I will recite verbatim some of the views Trump has expressed about women — calling them dogs and fat pigs, among other insults. Then I’ll ask my date if he shares these views. Of course the answer is no.
On these dates, I’m usually two seconds away from ordering a bottle of whatever has the highest number behind it and skating out the back door. But I refuse to leave a date with a known Trump supporter. Online dating while nearing 40 is already embarrassing enough. It is hard to put yourself out there again and again, and I won’t add to an already humiliating situation by walking out.
But I will not confirm what my pro-Trump date likely believes about feminists — that we’re angry and unreasonable above all else. This, perhaps, is the real reason they support Trump: They don’t know what a powerful woman is supposed to look like. There has never been a woman sitting in the Oval Office, and the idea of one is threatening to a “masculine man.”
So I would rather show him my version — that it’s possible to be opinionated and carry on a civil conversation. This is why I listen with clinched teeth and a smile. But I don’t sit there quietly. I use logic, reason and fact to refute each of his wildly stupid arguments while I lightly and nonchalantly touch his biceps. They can’t seem to think clearly when I do this.
And then I ghost ’em.