A Dare To Women: Make The 1st Move!


Sadie Hawkins Day Dance: The goal of a co-ed dance is to dance with a co-ed!

When I was in 4th grade, it was a leap year. The teachers in my Catholic school decided the best way to celebrate that was to give us a Sadie Hawkins Day dance. None of us knew what that meant, not having been cognizant of it the last time we had a leap year. 

They explained to us that it was the one day that girls were allowed to ask boys to dance. It never struck me as odd that anyone had to generate a holiday around a blip in the calendar. It also didn’t occur to me that it’s even odder on a grander scale: this holiday meant that as a people, we were given only one day, only one opportunity, only once every four years to step out of our traditional courtship roles.

But of course, I’d just turned 10 at the time. And at that age, the whole concept was alien to begin with, so you can just imagine the outcome: our Sadie Hawkins Day dance was a farce. In typical fashion, the girls clustered together on one side of the gym, decorated earnestly with the Valentine decorations the teachers bought at half price while the boys loomed on the opposite side. Both groups were posturing and gesturing in an exaggerated way that suggested an overt, but fearful, interest in the other group. It was obvious that each group was performing for the other.

The boys appeared to be play-fighting, checking out of the corner of their eyes if the girls were watching. Meanwhile the girls primped and whispered, pointing at one boy or another. The really interesting part, though, was when some brave soul decided to cross over to the other side.

Despite the whole point of Sadie Hawkins Day, the bold pioneer was always a boy. He was pushed and prodded by his cluster of friends and after stumbling away, he’d smooth his hair and walk the long, lonely route to the Land Of The Girls,  staring down at the gym floor the whole time.

Once the girls detected a pioneer breaking from the crowd of boys, there would be a collective gasp and a sudden flurry of activity. Our whispers and giggles got louder, eyes opened wider, and gestures got bigger. What I remember most vividly, though, was the collective effort of every last girl to back away from him as quickly as possible. We would scurry towards the wall or duck behind each other as the boy drew closer.

In retrospect, I have no idea where that boy got his bravery from. Girls were visibly retreating from him in a crazed panic; it looked like a scene from a 1950s monster movie.

The funniest part? He was not some giant lizard or space turtle. He was the same boy we had played kickball with during recess that day. But that made little difference to us girls — especially the girl he ended up asking to dance. She’d gasp at him in horror and shake her head violently. If she had a string of pearls, she’d have been clutching them tightly, backing up in a near-faint. The girls would then gather around her while she inhaled her invisible smelling salts, interrogating her with needless questions and pelting her with inane advice.

That poor kid, meanwhile, would retreat to the boy’s side of the gym, his lizard tail between his legs. He’d get teased mercilessly by the other boys for 10 or 15 minutes until the next one worked up enough nerve to ask another girl to dance. Advance, scurry, clutch pearls, retreat: This sequence repeated with military accuracy until one of the teachers turned off the radio and told us to get our coats. 

I’m sure we all have similar memories. And I’m sure we’d all like to think we’ve come a long way from those days. But I read some threads in CatholicMatch’s forums and it’s that 4th grade dance all over again. I’m seeing the same overt, fearful interest there. I can hear the collective gasp every time someone posts a “Flirt Alert.” I detect a lot of pearl-clutching and retreating, and I read an awful lot of advice-pelting.

If there’s one complaint I hear consistently about the dating scene on CatholicMatch it’s that, well, there just isn’t much of one, People — both men and women — don’t reach out enough. Profiles go un-browsed for days, even weeks. If one sends out emotes or emails, there’s no response. The rare times initial contact is made, it lags online for far too long. The explanation seems fairly straightforward to me: We’ve managed to re-create that two-sided gym and are  staring at an empty dance floor. 

It seems, going by discussions in the forums, that the prevailing expectation on CatholicMatch is for men to make the first move. Some women do not want to be the first to send an emote or email. Many won’t even browse a man’s profile unless he browsed them first. Many more won’t accept a chat request if the man hadn’t made successful prior contact. Lots of women refuse to give men their offline contact information. Some ladies won’t reply at all if an emote or email has typos, a quirky joke or a question they deem awkward. And a vast number of women won’t click on a profile that has no picture.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that the women are the sole bearers of the onus here. And I’m also obviously not suggesting that we should all recklessly give our phone numbers out to everyone who browses us, or make contact with every last man on the site. But what I am suggesting is that in the interest of prudent caution, we ladies might just be clutching our pearls a little too tightly and backing up against the wall a bit too often. I’m suggesting we might be remiss in thinking that the man should do all the work all the time and that when he does make an effort we suddenly need to protect ourselves from monsters. 

The possibility exists that the mysterious photo-less profile just might belong to a giant lizard or a space turtle. But the more plausible reality is that the average man on here essentially joined CatholicMatch to ask someone to dance. Why do they have to be the ones to make that lonely trek across the gym? Are we really so rigid in our gender roles that we can’t send out a measly emote or click on a photo-less profile? Is there really so much harm in accepting a chat request? Do we really need them to always make the first move? Why are we scurrying away and hiding behind our friends when they do?  

It just so happens that we’re in a leap year. That means tomorrow is Sadie Hawkins Day. I’m challenging my beloved Pinkies to make the first contact with somebody sometime this week. Maybe you’ve waited four years; here is your one chance to be brave. Who knows what could happen? It just might be that the man you reach out to is the same boy you played kickball with at recess and not a giant turtle from outer space. 

 

 

Further reading

Jessica Zimanske made the first move and now she has a wonderful CatholicMatch boyfriend. She shared her reason for proposing a face-to-face get together, writing: “If we’re both on an online dating site, I thought to myself, shouldn’t we, in fact, date?” Read the full post here.






26 Comments

  1. Elizabeth-753085 February 28, 2012 Reply

    Very cute article..some good thoughts..Reach out, you never know.

  2. Albert-146514 February 28, 2012 Reply

    Five years ago? ; I was leaving church after the 12 PM Mass and happened to be behind a much younger woman who I “followed out the door”. Once outside , N , ( a CM member ) initiated a conversation and we became , and have remained , friends. I was very glad to assist N in improving her condo unit., suggesting decorating ideas—-. Recently I introduced N to my other Catholic female friend , Marla ,who is N’s neighboor , and since then we three have had dinners together.

  3. Anna-671172 February 29, 2012 Reply

    Wish I cud be more daring as well. Altho i do pray for my future husband to make the first move i also pray for to have a braver spirit. Guess am just no used to making the first move….but yeah, the worst answer I cud get wud be just a simple no.

  4. Paul-709408 February 29, 2012 Reply

    I wish I could write such an elegant essay!

  5. John-132457 February 29, 2012 Reply

    Happy Sadie Hawkins Day!

  6. Pauline-729138 February 29, 2012 Reply

    This is a very accurate description of what is happening ,But sometimes we reach out to the men and you get no reply, For me It makes feels rejected. NOT even a thank you .

  7. Ho K. March 1, 2012 Reply

    In late 2007, I sent a guy an emoticon…. today he is the same guy cooking lunch for me and my daughter in our kitchen :)

  8. Helga R. March 2, 2012 Reply

    Fantastic article. Very well written. Good story, too! :)

  9. Paul-663898 March 2, 2012 Reply

    A woman making the first move is like a man telling a woman how to have a baby.

    • Nina-525092 March 2, 2012 Reply

      Join online dating website. First move. Done.

      This makes 2 bold, public statements: 1) availability; 2) approachability

      It’s his turn now.

  10. Roger-824748 March 3, 2012 Reply

    Wow, thank you for this article; it’s great. I thought I was the only one who’s not getting any reply to my messages. As catholic, I know that the right thing to do is to find a catholic lady but it’s not easy. I have been searching for a while and my prayer is to find a catholic mate before anybody else steals my attention.

  11. Ramona-738757 March 4, 2012 Reply

    Ms. Perry I so wanted to avoid replying to this. But, I couldn’t. And I thank you so much for writing this.
    For those of you who are familiar with me in the forums, you know this is a subject near and dear to me. I can feel the tension now. LOL.
    I attended very traditional Catholic schools. My high school was really a convent. And, we had our socials. We would invite the nearest single sex academy to join us. It never occurred to me that I was creating a faux pas by asking a young man to dance. Simply, becuase it was how a young lady conducted herself in all manner of social decorum and deportment that truly mattered. Asking for a dance wasn’t synonymous with wearing the scarlet letter.
    Please note: I do not condemn nor find my sisters and brothers in Christ woefully archaic if they are uncomfortable in breaking with tradition. What I find disheartening is when women such as myself are frowned upon or considered reckless and even wanton.
    Reckless is the giving of one’s personal e-mail, phone number and address after a few chats. Wanton is amoral behavior that is beyond the pale of suggestive. I am neither of these things. Yet, grow tired when one has to prove a lady’s worth do to ignorance or insecurity of the person being pursued. It rings hollow after awhile, “I’m a lady.” One starts to question is it worth it. And you end up behaving like your fellow sisters in Christ-WAITING! Please, don’t misunderstand me. I don’t think my approach will help me find a mate sooner. But, I hardly think it makes me a brazen, Jezebel either.
    The sending of a cryptic, “…best wishes,” emotigram is hardly anything to have anxiety over. Communication on a social website? Shocking!
    If I’m never approach why is it that as a woman we must turn the disappointment into self examination. And in all fairness the men do too.
    Does it truly matter who makes the first move? Or, is it a question of who is doing the moving? Best wishes and happy pursuing to ALL!

    • Catherine Perry March 4, 2012 Reply

      Dearest Ramona, who called you a reckless, wanton, brazen Jezebel? I want names! LET ME AT ‘EM!!!! ; )
      You do bring up an excellent point about the self-examination. That’s what I wrote about with the ‘Relationship X-Ray Machine’ post a while back. Thank you for these insightful comments!

  12. Jim-397948 March 5, 2012 Reply

    YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS my phone is 201-???->>>>

  13. Stephanie-600836 March 6, 2012 Reply

    i love it! thanks for the encouragement :)

  14. Lesley-158563 March 7, 2012 Reply

    I fundamentally disagree with the premise of this article. Are there actual stats or a valid survey to back it up? My sources tell me there are plenty of women on this site who “pursue” men. They are free to do so, but people, let’s be real…

  15. Cate-291547 March 7, 2012 Reply

    Hi Leslye,
    I fundamentally appreciate your comment – glad you spoke up! ; )

    It was not a statistical analysis essay – I’m sure that much is clear. My point was for women to take advantage of Sadie Hawkins Day and perhaps reach out to someone who caught your interest but, for whatever reason, hadn’t yet.

    My ‘sources’ might very well be the same sources as you; because I’d gleaned this sense of things through the forums. I did not imply that women NEVER made the first move; merely that there is an unspoken (and sometimes not so unspoken) understanding that men are ecouraged/expected/desired to make the first move.

    I’m quoting myself here: ” People — both men and women — don’t reach out enough” … and “I’m not suggesting that the women are the sole bearers of the onus here.”

    I also referred to the expectation as a ‘prevailing’ one, not an overwhelming majority. I then quantified the things that happen with women as saying “some”, “many”, “some others”, etc.

    These two reasons tacitly point to my understanding that there are plenty of other women who are reaching out quite a bit.

    So, yes, I agree, let’s get real! It wasn’t meant as a scathing accusation; plus, don’t you worry: the men will be taken to task soon enough – stay tuned for THAT blog!
    ; )
    Cate (Catherine Perry)

  16. Lesley-158563 March 8, 2012 Reply

    Every article has a “takeaway”. That was my “takeaway” from this piece. I think intellectual curiosity, discernment of the facts is a “good” thing… Well-written piece as usual…

  17. Rebecca-808272 March 21, 2012 Reply

    I really like this article! Thank you!

  18. Ray-564347 March 21, 2012 Reply

    I dunno. I’ve been online for a couple of years and so have some male friends of mine. The guys with the real looks seem to make some progress, while the rest of us send out notes and smiles by the dozens into a seemingly empty void. Like looking for alien life in the universe.

    • Adel-818653 June 5, 2012 Reply

      Ray, women feel the same way when we send emotiogram or ask to chat with the person on line. We get EMPTY response. We are not asking for marriage, just someone to talk to.

  19. Dave-868059 July 21, 2012 Reply

    Excellent! I’m a brand new to this and it has indeed been my analysis that on a ‘dating’ website of all things, many us seem afraid to even speak to others. People seem just too uptight about communicating! This might be holding us back from actually finding that ideal true love in the final event. Courtesy should be our hallmark. I personally try to respond to all who may bridge the gap and contact me initially, however how few that would be exactly. After initial contact , usually from my efforts as the gentleman, it seems I’m always expected to re-initiate chats or messaging. I find this a rather disappointing trend especially on a Christian site. Conversation and a courteous reply won’t hurt anyone; I believe it can only help. It doesn’t mean anyone’s walking down the aisle tomorrow because we message each other! ;-) Perhaps CM administration can modify the mode of operation of membership for those of us who are truly serious regarding a site of this nature.

  20. Dave-868059 July 21, 2012 Reply

    Excellent! I’m brand new to this and it has indeed been my analysis that on a ‘dating’ website of all things, many us seem afraid to even speak to others. People seem just too uptight about communicating! This might be holding us back from actually finding that ideal true love in the final event. Courtesy should be our hallmark. I personally try to respond to all who may bridge the gap and contact me initially, however how few that would be exactly. After initial contact , usually from my efforts as the gentleman, it seems I’m always expected to re-initiate chats or messaging. I find this a rather disappointing trend especially on a Christian site. Conversation and a courteous reply won’t hurt anyone; I believe it can only help. It doesn’t mean anyone’s walking down the aisle tomorrow because we message each other! ;-) Perhaps CM administration can modify the mode of operation of membership for those of us who are truly serious regarding a site of this nature.

  21. Meesch-691047 July 27, 2012 Reply

    Not that I DISAGREE with this article… but I gave up chasing boys in Kindergarden and am very flexible dancer in terms of leading and following ;)

  22. Robert-570574 November 4, 2012 Reply

    I need some help in communicating with the FEMALE attitude. My progress to date has unnoticed.Please reply.

  23. Marie-970856 May 8, 2013 Reply

    I am brand new to this site. I have been a widow since Oct. 1.2011 I hope I am diong the right thing

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