1. Don’t date fellow anarchists.
There are many reasons why this is a bad idea. But if you like strong, feminist women, there are a lot of them out there, they might be more career-oriented than revolution-oriented, but deal with it.
Most women have a very special set of experiences linked to becoming anarchists. You are a young teenage girl, and you discover anarchism. You become very excited with it: why didn’t people tell you about it before? It’s all you were thinking, but better expressed. You start talking about it to people around you passionately. That’s the age you discover that a lot of men don’t give a shit about what you’re saying, they just like that you are talking to them. If you were advocating fascism, their attention would be exactly the same. You get the same impression when you’re leafletting. People talk to you not because they care about your politics, but because it’s the first time in weeks they talk to a woman who is not at work serving them or part of their family. It is sad, but also little to do with you.
Now, being comrades is a bond of trust I place much value in. And when you find one comrade that seems to be interested in the same stuff you are, and that you like doing actions together and it’s all great fun, it is extremely disappointing to then discover that really your ‘comrade’ was feeling all this as a budding romance, and that if you had been into other actions and mocking what you did, he would have scorned the same stuff he did enjoy with you. It’s just not a comfortable place to be.
2. Don’t talk shop in your free time.
If you do date an anarchist woman (or to some extent any woman), you’ve got to understand it is not okay to use the fact that she allocates you a larger part of her time to drill your important views on an issue into her. It is intellectual intimidation. If a discussion on an issue is coming up, and you have differing views on the subject try discussing it as much as possible in a larger group. And only alone together as long as both people are enjoying discussing it. Don’t bring it up and keep it up until she caves in and decides that yeah, sure, she’ll support your position. This is not a healthy way of spreading the word. Also, don’t feel betrayed when she pretends to agree to shut you up, then persists with her heresy at broader meetings.
3. Talk about your man problems to other men.
“Men don’t talk about their feelings”? Yes, they do, at length, and it’s a pain. It’s not that your partner does not care about your man feelings: the way you worked in the mines since age 10, learnt all the stiff-upper-lip nonsense growing up on the estate, had to strangle your kitten because it peed on a picture of the Pope, and had to give up your dreams of being a professional harpist after two lessons because your neighbour once mocked you. Well, yes we care in as much as we care about you, but the whole dramatisation around it is just ridiculous. You know, the whole “o no, I never talk about my feelings” five drinks later, sobbing on your lap about his entire lifestory. Accept it, you’re as self-absorbed as the rest of us.
I take my examples out of the worst working class coming of age litterature to stress the fact the “pressure to really be working-class” which sometimes exists among some anarchists really does not help. You want to be pro-feminist? Talk about your daddy issues with your dad, your men issues with other men, etc. Don’t dump it all on your partner because she’s safe.
4. Talking about your feelings is not always great.
So, you love feminism, so you think men should be less manly and open up about their feelings. All the fucking time. Tip: women also find it really hard to express what they are feeling. And they don’t care about your feelings all that much. The good thing about having a partner that often asks you how you are feeling, it’s that if she doesn’t, you know it’s because she is not wondering. Women are not free shrinks. You are not being a wonderful deconstructed man, you’re invading her space and her time and taking all her emotional and mental energy for your own selfish ends.
Let women lead the conversation! Why do men say that they are too manly to discuss feelings when actually they really aren’t? Because they don’t want to discuss it right now. A lot of behaviours can be explained as a way of deciding what is discussed when. Men are terribly good at that. However, your partner might have a different emotional calendar, and she might just want drinks and sex the night you decide to reconnect with your inner child, and want to discuss feelings and relationships the day you want to be all macho. She might even want to discuss feelings: with other people present! Even other men! Because the couple is toxic.
5. Don’t lead the conversation, don’t lead the relationship either.
You like her and you want her to know it, because you’re in touch with your feelings. Good for you. But don’t suggest to meet: her time and her space are sacred. Don’t be like “can I come round with the cookies I just made”, be like “hypothetically, if I made cookies, when would be convenient if you wished to have some, and would you like to eat them with me around, and if so where would you like this eating of cookies to take place”. Don’t impose things, even if they are good things that she likes like cookies. When you tell her about a concert she would like, just tell her about it. If she decides to go, she might invite you to go with her. Don’t be like “I have given you this information that is relevant to your interests, therefore if you want to go you have to go on a date with me!”