I was at Trader Joe’s and somewhat uncharacteristically bought myself a dozen roses. In the course of the magical spin around the market, I encountered not one but two other women buying themselves flowers and (because I talk to everyone and everyone talks to me) both used the phrase “I’m worth it.” Now one woman buying herself flowers in Trader Joe’s is a ho hum fact, but three becomes statistically significant (See? I’m a scientist!*) Mostly, it made me realize why that phrase has always made me squinky.
In the context of self-love, self-care, and radical acts of spiritual, emotional and physical self-acceptance, I approve. Of course you are worth it, my lovely yet strong sunflower that walks the earth proudly on stalked heels. Yes, my pretty, you and I and all the other vulva havers, owners and renters all deserve all the good heart eyes emojis. And also, internal validation is more powerful than peonies.
There is a certain swinging of the pendulum that has pushed this axiom when it comes to dating as something approaching “I’m worth it, and therefore I am entitled to it.” To bring this up seems almost un-feminist, and you better believe unlike some people I will not mention (SJP Why? Why?) I do not have the luxury of separating myself from the umbrella of feminism. I’m not an “equalist” because we do not live in some post-gender utopia, women (and mothers) are still radically undervalued in the culture, and I am old enough to remember when shit was even worse.
First there are misogyny/overt sexism/Roger Ailes etc. Then, the more insidious and almost entertaining “benevolent sexism” a sort of benign version of the above, best summed up by the sentence “Let me get that for you little lady.” And then, something that can only be described as the reverse.
How many women do you know that are dating and have twenty thousand conditions that have to be met before they will have sex with someone? The door opening, the coffees, the dinners, the chivalry, the hoops they expect to be jumped through while guarding their special prize petunia with all their might. Then once the relationship or even marriage is underway, they cast their partner into the living embodiment of the maxim of Missouri. “Show me you love me.” “Show me what I can expect if I stay with you.” And yes, in the immortal words of our hysterical friend from Jerry Maguire, “Show me the money.”
I know if a man wrote those words it would probably sound kind of woman-hating, I myself might even (hypocritically) read it as such. I intend not to shame a woman who knows her own worth, or is learning (because of awful past experience) to expect to be treated fairly, kindly, lovingly and with respect. Surviving trauma is no laughing matter, but there is bravery in taking back agency yourself, instead of waiting for someone to patronizingly give it to you.
I am also cognizant of the number of women who show up to dates #1, 2, 3, or 4, and “pity fuck” a guy, because he has already paid for dinners, because he has cleared all the rings of fire, they feel that he is somehow entitled to the pussy. Honey. No. He is not entitled to it, and nor are you entitled to his, no-one is ever entitled to anyone’s pink bits, those are not a prize you get just for showing up.
I’m referring to something that has become more transactional in dating, a kind of “What am I getting out of this anyway?” attitude that I believe is cheating women, men, and others out of potentially good relationships. Knowing your limitations when it comes to getting attached to someone you’ve slept with is good! Boundaries are great! Knowing you’re special is even better! However, don’t forget, “You’re worth it” is a commercial concept that has been used since the 90s to sell you mascara.
If you really want to feel like you’re worth it, get a hand mirror RIGHT NOW, bring it down to that beautiful vulva and lovingly gaze at every fold. Women might long to be bought flowers because they don’t masturbate enough. And yes, buying them or anything else for yourself can be a huge measure of empowerment. Just remember, getting in touch with your own sexual truth is free, private, and doesn’t demand an audience (though sometimes that can be fun too.)
I know an awful LOT of single women, and just as many single men, and also some others (though less so, as existing outside the bounds of cis het culture seems to do wonders for one’s sexual liberation if you let it) who lament to me about not having a someone. And it seems to me if everyone just adjusted their expectations just a quarter turn to the left, more of those folks might be able to get together. (Unless they are perfectly happy being perfectly single which is also perfectly fine!)
I’m not suggesting, and never will, that you “settle.” You should be passionately happy to be with the person (people) you’re with (at least most days.) No one should ever “settle.” (The word “settle” should be removed from the dictionary later this year when they enter the word “squinky.”) However one person as “dinner buyer” “door opener” and “auditioner,” and one as the “gatekeeper of the magical V” are tropes that need to pass away peacefully. What they do is distance people from their true selves, and from each other, instead of truly connecting. Let us imagine a universe where everyone is worth that.
*not actual statistics.
If you want help figuring out what dating holding patterns you’re in, talk to a Sexual Intuitive HERE.