I obtained my current boyfriend from OkCupid, after I made the first move. My opener was essentially “you’ve got a cool piercing. Let’s get a drink.” Then we were in a relationship.
But my method is the minority. OkCupid, the original dating app for millennials, just released new data from their thousands of match questions. Turns out, the majority of straight female users who identify as feminist (“do you consider yourself a feminist?” is a match question) still want to be pursued, rather than do the pursuing. Or they checked the “a little of both” box, meaning they sometimes want to do the pursuing and sometimes let the other person woo them. Less than one percent of all women on the site, feminist or not, checked the “prefer to do the pursuing” box.
The data didn’t shock Melissa Hobley, OkCupid’s Chief Marketing Officer, who says “Frankly, we weren’t that surprised at the data. We looked into this because we felt like there was and still is a big misconception that feminists want to make the first move when it comes to dating.”
I have met few women (no matter how feminist) who prefer to do the pursuing. That could be because women are socialized to be passive, or simply because they don’t want to. For that matter, not many men on the site prefer pursuing. Over 80 percent of self-identified feminist men on the site say they want “a little of both.”
“The true meaning of ‘feminism’ is equal opportunity for men and women,” says Hobley, “so it was no surprise to us that if you consider yourself a feminist you prefer the choice when it comes to making the first move.”
“Choice” means don’t pursue her when you’re in a position of power over her. That could mean if you’re her boss or if she’s your waitress. It means that a man can break with gender roles and be pursued by a more dominant woman, without either party throwing a tantrum. And “choice” means that a woman can want to be pursued without that being an excuse to do whatever you want to her.
This data does not in any way suggest that women want to be pursued via groping, comments about our bodies on the street or in the workplace, or randomly showing us your penis. Don’t do any of those things.
The recent onslaught of sexual misconduct stories has left many men concerned whether their own behavior comes across as creepy. “Concern” might be the wrong word. “Fretting” is more accurate. Many a man has been fretting over the “what if.” “What if I am actually a creep?” “What if she actually didn’t like me having sex with her?” “How can I possibly know?” The confounding part is that many men seem to forget that you can, and should, literally just ask.
Women like sex. Women—plenty of women, anyway—like being pursued. Everyone likes compliments. Part of the fun of being pursued is the other person asking if they can kiss you or hold your hand or fuck you into oblivion. That’s hot.
But it’s not hot when you do it without permission. That’s assault.