Dating While Feminist-The Notebook and Romantic Gestures

Film poster for The Notebook (film) Note: This...

I’m a woman who hates The Notebook

Yes, I exist.

No, I’m not trying to falsely portray myself as a mythical being, and attract millions of dates by downplaying my love of Ryan Gosling and downplaying romantic expectations.

My hatred of the Nicholas Sparks film has nothing to do with my dating life.  In many ways, I am traditionally feminine.  But I hate the movie The Notebook. I hate Titanic, Twilight, and anything with the name Nicholas Sparks on the cover.  And yet, I am a woman.

I guess that I’ve never been a fan of romantic gestures, or big mushy romances.  I tend to be loving, but I’m not good at displaying positive emotions.  I’m too much of a pragmatist and a feminist to be swept away by Noah writing Allie a letter every day.  If it were me, I would have stopped after three months of no responses.  And if I were Allie, I would be upset over the fact that he wrote to me every single day.

Does he really have nothing better to do?

The best celluloid love story, as far as this cynic is concerned is a tie between Colnel Brandon’s love for Marianne Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility.  (Alan Rickman is unbelievable in this role.) and Carl and Ellie, the adventure-loving couple in UP.  Their romance is understated, and does not consume their lives.  (Marianne, initially allows her dreams of romance to consume her, but she matures throughout the course of the film.)

Real life romance is sweeter.  My grandfather walked an extra half an hour to walk his future wife home the first night he met her.  (They knew each other through mutual friends, so it wasn’t inappropriate.)  My father brings coffee to my mother in bed on special occasions.  He makes the coffee so she doesn’t have to, and for me, he puts my favorite mug in front of the coffee pot when I go home.  It’s the sweetest gesture that shows that you’re taking care of the other person.  (And yes, my family is obsessed with coffee.)

I don’t like romantic poems or public proposals.   And I must thoroughly confuse the Hallmark marketing team because I hate heart shaped jewelry, teddy bears, anything pink and covered in hearts, diamond necklaces, diamond jewelry in general, romantic poems, dozen roses, and candlelit dinners with violins playing.  (However, I do enjoy champagne, chocolates, and warm fluffy robes).  That’s about as romantic as I get.  My idea of an ideal romantic gift is inspired by the TV show Gilmore Girls- a coffee cart to follow me around all day and make whatever I wanted, free of charge?  Now, that’s a gift!

I wrote this piece, not to solicit gifts, or to find a date, but to explain my frustration that every single relationship article I have ever read suggests that your girlfriend wants a night in with the Notebook.  That every girl will just adore that diamond necklace you bought for her.  That every girl wants rose-petals and romance.  That’s ridiculous and unoriginal.   Most of us are happy if you pick your socks up off the floor and make dinner every once in a while.  As for romance, it’s a highly individual thing.

Women’s mags are guilty of the same thing, assuring women that your man wants tools and you in a new sexy set of underwear by Victoria’s Secret, whose advertisers are paying for four full page ads, so they’d better see revenue.  Women of non photogenic appearances, sizes, trans-women, and women dating women don’t exist, apparently.

Basically, the articles would be more helpful if they identified different types of personalities and general guidelines for gifts and romantic displays for different types of people.   These articles are, of course, needlessly heteronormative and gender-conforming.

I don’t speak for all women when I write this, of course.  Women are not monolithic entities who all respond the same way to gifts and situations.   This notion of women as different from each other expands to many notions, including but not limited to:

the bedroom, her birthday, relationships, flirting, fashion, political affiliation, level of expressiveness, communication styles, favorite TV shows, levels of self-confidence, amount of fearlessness, responsiveness to emotional stiumlii, culinary skills, level of fitness, attitudes toward money, enthusiasm for fantasy football, favorite sports team, and attraction to you.

Women are not the same.  We are human beings, with diverse interests and personalities, and you should treat us as such.  Just because we are women, does not mean that we understand the behavior of other women.  There is no “Women Code of Behavior.”  There is no “Woman Speak.”  There is only, “what does this specific women mean in this context?”

Yes, I’m a woman who hates The Notebook. Because not all women like The Notebook.  Not all women have vaginas.  Not all women wear bras.  Not all women have children or want children.  There is no definition of what makes a woman, so there is no definition of “all women.”  So stop assuming that “all women like x.”  You know what they say about you when you assume something.  Women are not a monolithic entity but a group of individuals bound together by the use of a common label-women.  What that means is entirely up to the individual woman.

What stereotypes about dating really frustrate you?  Let me know in the comments.

Author’s Note.

Just because I don’t like movie, does not mean that I am writing that all women do not like that movie.  We are individuals, and all specific dislikes and likes in this article are mine and mine alone.

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3 comments on “Dating While Feminist-The Notebook and Romantic Gestures

  1. Using my words – I also hate rom-coms, and particularly the Notebook! I hate the one size fits all approach to romantic films and dating and the thing that won me over with Hairy was a dinner that he had to phone his mum for the recipe for, and boiling the kettle for hours just so I could have a bath. Completely don’t get diamond jewellery – all mine has meaning to it because Hairy picked it especially to tell a story.
    I hate how incredibly easy rom-coms make romance look – they don’t show the awkward moments, or the rows that don’t involve shouting and slamming doors and are always easily resolved!

    • cafeaulait13 says:

      It’s lovely because it’s not about the gift. It’s about the meaning. And a partner who calls to get a special recipe is a keeper. My best date was one when my then boyfriend took me to a 1950’s movie theater and out to a diner, knowing that I love retro Americana.

      One of my rom-com pet peeves is that the person just buys forgiveness in the form of a really awesome gift and everything is resolved (I’m looking at you, 10 Things I Hate About You.) Or that one big gesture just sweeps away all wrong-doing. Life is decidedly NOT a Rom-com!

      Unless it’s Crazy, Stupid Love, which does a surprisingly realistic approach to dating, marriage, and male friendship. And shirtless Ryan Gosling.

  2. Leah says:

    I hate most romcoms. I hate the gender roles in them and the heteronormativity. When I like a story with a romance in it, it’s almost always queer or queered, even if it’s a cismale/cisfemale couple. (As I’m sure you can guess from my blog.) I respect women who have views that differ from mine about gifts and romantic gestures (as long as it stays out of 50SG or Twilight territory), but give me Yoshinaga Fumi over Sparks any day.

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