Time is a feminist issue

I’ll begin this by saying that I think a lot of people may disagree with what I’m about to say. Certainly the friend I mentioned it to this evening did. Please do add your thoughts in the comments, whether you agree or not – I’d be interested to hear other people’s thoughts.

Anyway. In comparison with a lot of women, there are very few claims on my time. I work full-time, sure, and there are a couple of hobby-related regular commitments in the evening, but I’m not raising children, working hours and hours of overtime or caring for someone who’s sick or elderly. I’m a single woman, a free agent, and my diary is relatively uncluttered.

None of that means that my time isn’t valuable. There are lots of things I need/like to do when I have free time – meet friends for drinks, laundry, food shopping, blogging, writing. And I like to know in advance where those things are going to slot into my week. That makes me neither a better nor a worse person than someone who likes to fly a bit more by the seat of their pants.

I should also, in the interests of full disclosure, remind you that time keeping is not one of my strengths. I’m regularly 15-30 minutes late. I’m occasionally guilty of doing that thing where you send a ‘Just leaving now!’ text when you still have wet hair and are wearing only your knickers.

But I don’t bail. Last night I went to someone’s birthday drinks. She’d invited somewhere between 15-20 people. Most had replied to say that they’d be there, but when I turned up, halfway through, the majority had texted some excuse as to why they had to cancel at short notice. This kind of shit drives me crazy. As she said herself, if people had said no in the first place, or the week before, she could have made the decision to cancel. The way it actually worked out, as the night wore on the pub kept moving us to smaller and smaller tables as it became obvious people weren’t going to show. I doubt it ruined her birthday, but it can’t exactly have made it, either.

So yes, both men and women can be lame. But in my experience it’s far more often men who are guilty of suggesting plans, promising to confirm by a certain time/day, and then not bothering, so the woman has to chase, which makes her feel needy, naggy and generally pretty damn unattractive. Once or twice I’ll forgive this, but if it becomes a pattern, not so much. If it becomes a pattern I will nag you, I will become shrill and needy, and I will pick a fight, even though it won’t help.

Why a feminist issue, though? Well. You could (and I’m going to) argue that men call the shots much more in dating than women do, especially in the early days. I see tweets every day from women about men who’ve arranged dates only to cancel at the last minute. And, something which I’ve had more experience of myself, and which I hate even more: men who initiate conversations via dating websites, who want to flirt, who want to sext, who want you to give up a good chunk of your time to interact with them online but who have no intention of meeting up in person, Men who can’t even be bothered to take the time to draft something new when they message you via said sites. Men who clearly haven’t even taken the time to read your profile. Men who, essentially, think their time is *much* more important than yours.

That’s the impression it gives too when, a bit further down the line, a guy suggests meeting up on a Sunday and says he’ll confirm by, let’s say, Friday evening. I generally like to have my weekend plans firmly in place by Friday, but I like him, so, ok, I can wait till Friday. Friday comes and goes. Nothing. Saturday evening comes. Still no word. I text, and ok, by now I probably sound a bit stroppy. I say something like ‘I guess tomorrow’s not happening, then? And the reply, of course, says ‘Sorry! No, couldn’t make tomorrow in the end.’

There are of course other explanations here. That he’s generally flaky. That he just doesn’t give a fuck about me. There’s probably some truth in both of those statements. But I do think it’s partly because he’s a man, and because he’s been socialised to believe that his time, his wants and his needs, take precedence. And even if he doesn’t believe those things, he has *no idea* how often women’s time is at the mercy of the decisions men make. So boys, if you really want to be feminist, start by texting when you say you will.

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9 thoughts on “Time is a feminist issue

  1. this was the perfect day for me to read this post! i disagree that it is a feminist issue, i really think it is a people issue of not valuing other people’s (my) time. i cannot stand making plans with someone, having to dance around their schedule and then being told in the very end they cannot make it. or worse last minute, like i had nothing better to do than to wait for them to decide that they can grace me with an appearance! i have a life and a very busy schedule, but i can usually tell immeadiately if i can make something and if it works in that week’s schedule. if not, i say i cannot. is that such a novel idea???

  2. This was also a perfect day to read this post since I just wrote about being stood up on yet another date (http://wp.me/p4wGVp-6n). I found your views interesting b/c when I discussed being stood up with my friends (both men and women), everyone agreed that women do this more than men, especially with someone they met online. But both sexes are guilty!

    Perhaps, it’s related to how entitled one feels towards someone’s attention. Attractive and confident males/females acquire dates so often that it can become a bit of a banality. The same comparison can be made to those whom are popular and are invited to events ad nauseam.

    I don’t ditch last minute, so hopefully I’m helping to counteract the bad stereotype 🙂

  3. It’s a feminist issue in that maybe it bothers women more than men – it depends how invested you are in the ultimate meeting. The issue is in the ‘I don’t give a fuck about you’ and ‘I was waiting for something better to turn up’ message it so clearly sends.

    I think women are equally capable of leaving men hanging, of using them… again, it’s only a problem if the other person needs the interaction – anyone who didn’t would just … stop making plans with people who did this to them on a regular basis.

    The other culprit is mobile phones though. When IIIIIII were a lass we just … made plans… stuck to them. No last minute cancellation or ‘I’m just on the way’ texts. Mobile communication allows us to be rude shit heads. So does modern life, I guess. We should make it a priorty to change that, and be respectful of people. And ourselves!

  4. Interesting post. I do believe this to be a man’s problem in general, especially amongst the older generation, of which I am part of. It is in part due to conditioning. Men have historically been conditioned to believe their time is more valuable than that of a woman, plain and simple. I will happily note that it does seem to be improving with the younger set.

    Dating sites however. A man thinks nothing of texting/emailing for hours on end and often with no concern. Then when inevitably talk turns to something more concrete they bail. My fwb partner and I use dating sites looking for other couples for swinging. It is my partner who handles the communications and he fields all kinds of comments, excuses, which, I might add are pretty much always with the man of the other couple. When trying to arrange a meet we have been lied to, stood up or had meets cancelled at the last minute. Our suspicions are there is no actual “couple” we/he is conversing with. Point is, this other man thinks nothing of using our time knowing he has no intention to follow through.i will say, my fwb partner has great respect for others’ time. Comes from many years in business.

  5. I think this is a ‘flake’ thing rather than a man thing; women are just as bad. If I arrange to meet with aome one and I get the tiniest ‘flake’ vibe, I always arrange back up plans, and I tell the person concerned too – “Hi I’m sensing cold feet here; I hope I’m wrong, but just in case of a no show or a cancellation, I’ve got backup plans sorted”. Flakes generally don’t reply as they know they’ve been sussed out, its useful way of sorting wheat from chaff 🙂

  6. Hmmmm I think being flakey is something both men and women do. Basically, like they said on Sex and the City, if he faffs about with plans and cancels and doesn’t confirm, he (or she) is just not that into you. When you really like someone a lot you want to be around them and it becomes a priority.
    If I guy cancels on me, I don’t chase, if he apologises and reschedules, sure I’ll go out, but if I don’t hear from him much I just leave it. NEXT!
    I think it is a pretty big call that men call the shots in dating, I think it is highly dependent on individuals……. do men, in general call the shots more than women? I really don’t know I’ll have to give it some more thought, you have raised some interesting issues though.

  7. I think the issue here is a male/female one as it’s about self esteem – and also how men treat women who demand more fixed plans/more respect.

    It’s not about flakiness, exactly (hey, that may be the underlying issue, yeah, rather than callous disregard) but when you’ve been left to hang, and then ultimately rejected casually (oh yeah, I forgot you were waiting all weekend and I said I’d call then, but I didn’t bother, and I did make other plans, but oh well, you’ve nothing better to do than hang around wondering, eh?) – it’s down to how that affects the person waiting. People with a strong sense of identity and self worth in place would most likely go, what am I doing trying to make plans with this person who treats me so badly? I won’t do that again.’

    I suspect men are more likely to be able to do that, as they’re raised more autonomously than women can be – culturally, I guess. Women are more likely to be used to being daughters/sisters/girlfriends etc and learn to identify themselves with other people… I’m sure this is changing, as women are growing more independent and autonomous. But I think we’re more likely to define ourselves by how other people feel about us. This is a more theoretical point than one that affects individuals, clearly.

    Obviously the thing to do here is go with the self worth angle and not be involved with people who treat us like this, but I know all to well it’s not always that easy.

    Often we stick with the person yet try to assert ourselves as we know we should – please don’t treat me like this, please have the manners to respect my time, don’t leave me hanging – and it turns into nagging, and then the free spirit who’s blowing us off so callously gets to blame us for being clingy and whiny etc. It’s a double edged sword. We’re under pressure to stand up for ourselves but as soon as we do we’re labled all sorts of nasty things that tend not to get applied to men.

    I’d come back hoping to make a more lucid comment than I did before work this morning but I’ve just waffled on again anyway. Sorry!

  8. Pingback: Hell is other people | Sex blog (of sorts)

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