By · @kellyseal  ·  · 79 Shares

March is Women’s History Month, and we just celebrated International Women’s Day across the globe. There’s no doubt about it.

Women are standing tall and proud, and are ready to embrace the “f” word like never before.

Feminism, that is.

  • But what does this mean in dating culture, where assuming traditional gender roles is still standard practice?
  • If we are entering into a new feminist era, are men still expected to ask women out?
  • Should they take the initiative in making the first move and pay for the date, or is this antiquated thinking?
  • What role does feminism play in moving dating culture forward?

A recent study by online dating site Match found that the overwhelming majority of daters (men and women) believe in equality in the workplace and in the bedroom.

Feminism isn’t a dirty word after all. In fact, many of us embrace the idea of an equal playing field when it comes to love. The majority of men surveyed believe that feminism “has changed the dating rules for the better,” and made dating safer. Only 35% of men believe feminism has made things worse.

However, the word “feminist” is still confusing to many. According to the study, only 37% of single men and 47% single women define feminism as women being equal to men, whereas 43% of singles think it “means a lot of different things.” Six percent admitted they don’t know what it means.

So what does feminism really mean, and how does it influence dating?

For one, a feminist approach to dating means that women feel more empowered to make decisions. Many dating apps are proactively incorporating feminism through features that benefit women. Bumble, Siren and Wyldfire cater to female daters by giving them the ability to see potential matches first. Users can decide for themselves who they want to message, cutting down on all the unwanted texts.

Unfortunately, most women don’t use their power as often as they could to take charge of romantic relationships. Women still, on the whole, feel that they should be pursued or that the man should make the first move. Contrary to tradition, 95% of men are in favor of women initiating the first kiss, and 93% approve of women initiating sex. However, few women initiate the first kiss (29%) or initiate sex for the first time (23%). Match surveyed over 5,000 singles across America, ages 18 and up.

Part of the reason daters hang on to traditional attitudes about dating is because of societal pressure.

No matter how much women have achieved in the workplace, their relationship status is constantly scrutinized, which puts added pressure on dating. Women still want to be seen as “desirable” by men.

Women have fought for equal pay, the chance to become successful in any profession they choose, and have more disposable income than ever before. These wins are very powerful motivators to advance careers, but still, the personal lives of women are often judged harshly.

Some women date with the same ambitious approach they use to advance their careers. Others are more comfortable to sit back and let men take the lead in pursuing. Neither approach is wrong, they are just different, and can often leave both men and women confused as to what each really wants, and how they “should” date.

But the Match results are clear: men want women to feel more empowered in their personal lives.

Feminism is a good thing, and it can help women feel more empowered when they date, not just in the workplace. The key for women is to use their power, and have the courage to be bold when it comes to asking for what they want in their personal lives.

So what does it mean to be a feminist dater?

There’s no guidebook, but think about a few simple actions you can take to become more proactive and to assume more control over your love life. Ask a man out on a date, or plan where you want to meet him. Make the first move if you’re interested. And if you’re dating a man and uncertain about what he wants, or how serious your relationship is, instead of asking or waiting for him to bring it up in conversation, why not state your feelings up front?

It might seem strange or contrary to what you’ve done before, but now is the time to take the lead and own your power. This is your love life, too – so why not take charge? That’s feminism in action.

Happy dating!


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Kelly Seal

Kelly Seal is an award-winning author whose writing can be found in The Huffington Post, Examiner, and Slate among others.

Get her book Date Expectations available in paperback, ebook and audio book formats, and visit her blog at www.kellyseal.com.

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