My personal story
R: (for my second story) I thought generally the process of relationships: starting relationships, going on dates. It is always, well not always, but generally the man is meant to instigate that. So, approach a woman and ask her on a date, pay the meal, all of that. All that sort of thing. Which I see as pretty unfair.
I: In what sense?
R: That it is quite nerve racking! (laughs)
R: You're expected to make all the moves and show all the interest of... so it is you who is going to be rejected. Rather than the other way around. But then, of course, there is negative sides for women as well where they have to wait to be approached. There are some, I don't know... I don't know how to put this... I guess the... there are some ideas of women approaching men, where it is - I don't know- I don't express myself very well... Yes, it is not expected I suppose.
I: Where it is considered to be too assertive if a woman would do that?
R: Yeah, yeah, absolutely! But I don't think that should be the case at all. I don't see why that should be the case, I mean, that is pretty archaic.
I: You say: 'I think it is a bit archaic and it is not how you would want it', but that is the general approach? That your general impression is that nowadays still the men take a more active role in the seductions process, let's say, than women?
R: Absolutely, not that I suppose that to a certain extent that we had it in the past. But still, yeah, instigating it and the first few steps at least are generally dominated by men. And it is also sort of what romance is seen, as male steered...
I: The hunter and the hunted?
R: Absolutely, yeah... so it can be challenging at times...
I: What for you is the most difficult part? The potential of being rejected?
R: Yes, I suppose so. (...) Yeah, I mean, because you are putting yourself in the line of fire really. So, yes...
I: And you yourself, do you think you would object if a woman would take the initiative? Would that put you down?
R: Absolutely not, no! I would much prefer it, really. Yeah, but it doesn’t happen very often...
I: Do you have a girlfriend currently?
R: I don't.
I: You had girlfriends in the past?
R: Yeah, I became single three months ago.
I: That's too bad, I' sorry.
R: (laughs) But, yeah, so it's been quite apparent recent, so ... that's the process.
I: Yes, you are in the middle of it.
R: Yeah, really...
I: And also at a big turning point in your life because you are graduating?
I: So if you think of your future partner that you will hopefully soon meet and seduce or be seduced by heR: what characteristics do you think she should have? Your ideal wife...
R: Most important for me is independence. I'd hate to be the dominant figure. I'd hate to be the only earner, I'd hate for our social lives to be all together, I'd for all of that. So that is quite important to me, that we would be able to lead separate lives. That she has confidence and intelligence and these things.
I: So independence. And what would be the important characteristics that you as man would bring into the relationship or would want to bring into the relationship?
R: Well, some sort of nurturing aspect, and caring aspect. Not to the extent that she relies on me, but to the extent that I am helpful and...
I: In which ways?
R: So, when there is a problem, that I'm able to help in some way. Emotional problem or physical problem or anything. That I can be that person that she would come to and the first person that she would be able to ask for help.
I: Would you also want to be taken care of by her? So that would be vice versa?
I: Then you are talking mainly about emotional care or physical care? And how about financial and material care? Because often that is also part of a relationship, let's think about the household chores and who gains the income?
R: Well, I mean, ideally it is absolutely balanced. I grew up in quite a liberal family and in many ways the traditional gender roles were reversed. So, my mum earns more than my dad. My dad is useless at DIY (do it yourself) but good at cleaning and then my mum’s good at DIY, doesn't do much cleaning so I've always grown up without those traditional stereotypes being enforced upon me. So I don't, I don't really see any sort of particular role for men or woman. But that it is just a cooperative effort that life has to...
I: Ok good. Anything else that you think of or that you have thought of?
R: Well, I always face a bit of a struggle between my feminist learnings and also the requirement to be a gentleman. So, sort holding doors open for women or offering to buy them drinks. Or... so, that's expected of me, but also I feel like it is also a bit ...
I: You mean sort of a 'double bind situation', wherein you are ‘damned if you do and you are damned if you don't’?
R: Yeah, absolutely!
I: Yes, because they might be charmed, but they also might say: 'oh, you are so conservative, you think I can't open a door myself?'
R: Or I can't buy my own drinks. So, yeah... So that is a struggle sometimes...
I: They call that a 'catch 22' situation.
R: Yeah, definitely!!
I: So how do you approach that? You try to estimate...
R: I try to buy drinks for everybody!
I: Okay, that's a good compromise (laughing)
R: Often it just comes naturally, so (...) you're being brought up in whatever environment and it comes natural to hold doors open for women, offer your seat or whatever.
R: And then, the other thing that I was thinking of is that, I tried to take some sort of active role in feminism. So, I'm part of the feminist society and I went on a march a couple of weeks ago. That's part of it. But I'm always going to be excluded from that in not being a woman. Which is something I'm quite [not understandable word] about, I don't think that should be the case at all. But still, there are marches that are solely for women. And sit-ins that are solely for women, for which I get quite angry about.
I: Yes, I can imagine. What made you decide to become a member of the feminist movement?
R: Well, I see it as fairly fundamental, it is the most fundamental basis for discrimination and so on and...
I: You mean as compared to racism?
R: Yeah, yeah, I do see it as... well, in this country anyway. But, also doing development studies, you see that India or elsewhere women are, really are discriminated against massively and just don't even exist on many levels. So I find it hard to ignore. I feel I have to be part of it really.
I: How would you describe your role in the feminist movement, or what role would you like to take?
R: Euh... Obviously I can't be leader, but some sort of presence. So you make it known to other people that this is what you are interested in, these are the issues, so spreading the word.
I: Is it appreciated by your male friends or do they think it is very queer?
R: Male friends? No, they see it as a, as me just trying to pick up feminist women.
I: Oh, right, they think it is a seduction strategy?
R: Absolutely... and by my female friends, they are quite supportive...
I: Oh yes, so the women don't think it's strange.
R: No, no, well, I suppose they see it slightly strange but also they appreciate it.
I: Great, good! Is it something that you would also like to take along in your professional career because earlier on you said that you were hoping to work abroad? That you would find a job after graduation to work abroad in some of those developing countries?
R: Yes, I suppose so, it is something that I am passionate about, alongside of environmental issues. Yeah, so I kind of see myself working in some sort of role like that.
I: Okay, thanks very much.
Gender did matter