Last week the Post & Courier ran an article, “Swipe Right: Managing the rhythms (and algorithms) of modern dating in Charleston.” Before I even read through the piece I thought to myself, “Damn, bold move. It’s really hard to write about dating.” The article itself features a lot of statistics and some definitions about terms like “ghosting” and (a new one to me), “breadcrumbing.”

Out just in time for Valentine’s Day, “Swipe Right” is a decently vague overview of what it’s like to date in 2018. But it breaks one basic rule: If you must write about millenials dating — and “swiping” through apps no less — don’t be fucking sexist.

And that, my friends, is not easier said than done. It’s actually both easy to say and do.

For the most part, the P&C piece is what it sets out to be — a snapshot of dating in Charleston. But there’s this one paragraph, these three sentences that shot us all back into the 1950s: “Attractive women sometimes date average-looking guys just for free meals. (Yes, that’s a thing, other sources confirmed). And a lot of women hide who they really are or turned out to be a little too intense.”

That third sentence now reads “And a lot of people hide who they are.” That’s better. The whole thing though — not great. Talking about someone’s looks is always sticky — not only is “attractiveness” arbitrary, it immediately paints women — and men — as objects.

I read the paragraph, re-read the whole article, re-read the paragraph. I tweeted about it, and P&C altered that poorly worded “too intense” sentence. I tried to forget about it. I can hear the “God, you’re so uptight, why don’t you let that go,” ringing in my ears now. Hello, commenters, old friends.

But forget about it? Fuck that: If we don’t continue to call bullshit, bullshit will remain.

Women, in this article, are treated as objects to be acted upon. They are “feeling sad” and broken up with, they are getting their “emotional fix,” they are (finally!) “more willing to participate in the hookup culture,” oh, and, let’s be real, a lot of them are “a little too intense.”

In other words women are fragile, manipulative, easily coerced, and fuckin’ nuts. There are male stereotypes too, of course there are. In “Swipe Right” guys breaks up with girls because they are “bored,” men have to pay “upwards of $100” to take a woman out, they just want to “get action.”

And that sucks, to be swept into that kind of generalization.

But which one is more harmful? The one where women are acted upon, when they are dumped, “willing to” fuck, mentally unstable? Or the one where men have sexual desires, are the monetarily stable partner, are the decision makers?

We could continue to live this way, to write this way, to think this way — with men acting upon women, women placed in the shitty role not of doer but of something to be done. Whether we’re writing about dating, or actually dating, we’ve got to do better. We have to join the 21st century, not just in technology, not just knowing what terms to use for what dating apps. We need to be mindful with the way we talk about men and women. We need to normalize the fact that we — men and women — date instead of stigmatizing the different ways we choose to date.

In case you need a reminder: women and men both date — showing up as humans — and the way we talk about their dating should reflect their humanity, not their stereotypes.

Be respectful.

Be kind.

And stop being fucking sexist.

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