Feminist Dating Woes: The ‘Brogressive’

By Pickup Culture

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Not all male feminists are created equal

In one of my undergraduate classes last week a female student expressed disappointed with her boyfriend, and his reaction to her identifying as a ‘feminist’.  A little earlier the same day a female colleague confessed how her husband (of ten years) didn’t like her frequent use of the word ‘patriarchy’ to explain the causes of injustice in various parts of the world.

Complaining about men is also a common theme in the media these days, whether it’s done by targeting men as a collective through the vague language of identity politics and feminism (‘the patriarchy’) or whether it’s through women bloggers who enjoy proclaiming how lame individual men are (the ones they chose to date).

Even when men proclaim their credentials as feminists they can’t seem to win either, as women still find a way to be unhappy.  This was the case with the feminist backlash to the election of Canadian Justin Trudeau who, despite forcing an equal representation of men and women into his parliament, was vilified by many feminists for being too sexy and opportunistic.

Women’s dissatisfaction with ‘liberal’ men also occurs in the news-sphere of dating and personal relationships.  An article in The Daily Life last week illustrates this nicely, with the author using the term ‘brogressive’ to describe her disappointment with the ‘male feminists’ she so-frequently seems to date.  It’s an excellent example of a current trend in dating journalism, which combines the feminist collectivist approach (blaming ‘the patriarchy’) with the individualist focus that relies on anecdotes from women’s dating lives.

Either way, from a self-development perspective, such writing reveals an underlying pathology that feminism, mainstream journalism and many individual women seem reluctant to address: why do these women attract such deceptive men in the first place?

What is a ‘brogressive’?

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‘Why can’t my boyfriend be like this?’

As the author suggests, the term ‘brogressive’ refers to men who claim to be feminist simply because they want to get into a woman’s pants.  What she’s actually describing here is a sub-category of beta game, a mating strategy used by men who aren’t getting laid as a result of their masculine virtues alone.  In evolutionary psychology, this is known as virtue signalling – in this case the man seeks to appear more virtuous because he’s aligning himself with the ‘feminist cause’.  There is an implication too that such male feminists ‘hate the guy who normally appeals to women’, which is the stereotypical alpha douche.  In the author’s own words:

While the more sinister, predatory types deliberately adopt seemingly progressive identity politics to lure left-leaning women into romantic or sexual relationships before revealing their true colours, men like my exes sincerely believe that calling themselves feminists is enough, as though basic decency deserves a gold star. They talk the talk, but walking the walk? Nah, too much effort.

Basic decency here is the decency of calling yourself a ‘feminist’, as if the term itself automatically confers virtue.  But what is a ‘feminist’?  The problem with the term is that it’s an identity category, and not a behaviour.  Surely ‘decency’ is a judgement about character, which can only be assessed on the basis of what a person does rather than what they say (they do).

Behaviour is a tricky and slick beast to understand – because it also involves understanding your own actions, and the motivations behind them.  It’s easy to say you care about women, or refugees and the poor unwashed masses of the world (as many feminists like to claim they do), but how does that manifest in your own life?

You are what you attract

To some degree I agree with this sentiment, but to implement it in your dating life entails a degree of self-reflection (and discipline).  With the feminist dating bloggers there is a mismatch between reality and expectations.  If, as the author suggests, she is looking for a feminist man to date, then why only look for ‘white … middle-class and well educated’ men who are already comfortable on their ‘patriarchal throne’s?  If white, middle-class and educated men don’t generally seem to share your values, then why date them?

The author describes herself as an ‘emotional and passionate woman’, not because of her personality but because the world has made her that way.   ‘The world we live in is not one that is kind to marginalised groups’.  Having written other articles about her family’s ancestry in Vietnam, I’d be keen to know why she doesn’t focus on men who are more curious about that side of her life.  There are also plenty of ‘marginalised’ Vietnamese men in Australia who might enjoy a date with this young, attractive blogger.  And so why not date them?

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A marginalised Vietnamese man

Understanding behaviour (in this case female behaviour) makes this an easy question to answer.  Nguyen is a writer for the trendy Daily Life blog, which is owned by Fairfax – one of Australia’s largest media conglomerates.  As readers of the manosphere know well, women’s sexual selection strategies predispose them to marry up – a process known as hyper-gamy.  Claiming to be marginalised, and doing so whilst getting paid by one of the wealthiest media organisations on the planet, will seem a little discordant to many white, middle-class, educated men – the type of men middle-class journalists find attractive.  It’s this misalignment between values and behaviour that some men might be tempted to exploit.

Boundaries and expectations

A lot of writers in the manosphere talk about the importance of personal values when it comes to relationships, a lesson many feminist bloggers would be wise to learn.  Models by Mark Manson underlies this philosophy by suggesting that, as men learn the skills of pickup and game, they become less needy when it comes to sex.  By not needing sex they can afford to be more honest, and able to communicate what they actually want in terms of values and the character of a woman – from the very start of the relationship.

Pickup artists and writers like Manson teach these skills because they work.  The practical value of finding the right person for a relationship starts before you form that relationship.  If dating a non-feminist is a deal breaker for you, as it is for Nguyen, then be upfront about it when you first meet them.  Have some self-respect, and be willing to walk away – don’t wait until you’ve slept with them to find out the truth, then complain about being deceived in your syndicated column afterwards.

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An excellent book for feminists

The main problem with feminism, though, is that it’s a belief system rather than a set of practices.  Like all belief systems it has many interpretations, which is why it’s easy for men to feign an allegiance to in order to get laid.  If feminists are intent on screening alpha assholes and brogressive betas, then they need to look more closely at their own beliefs and behaviours.  That’s particularly hard to do when they believe in an ideology that insists on judging a man’s worth based on how he identifies himself, rather than what he does or who he is.

By objectifying men as ‘feminist’, ‘non-feminist’ or ‘brogressive feminist’, feminists not only become blind to ordinary forms of male benevolence but are more likely to attract those men who objectify them in return.  You are what you attract.

You can’t Cheat an Honest Man

As the classic WC Fields film title suggests, ‘you can’t cheat an honest man’.  The same could be said of the honest woman – any person with self-knowledge has the ability to confront their weaknesses, learning to understand how they may become vulnerable to manipulation.  As feminists like Nguyen and bloggers such as Craven in the City demonstrate, popular culture and feminism have a long way to go in helping women reach that level of self-awareness.  Emotional susceptibility to deception is certainly a problem, but one that can’t be resolved by blaming other people – as feminists are so fond of doing.

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