When Samhita Mukhopadhyay, executive editor of Feministing, announced she was writing a book on dating, I knew we had to have her on SM. Because as those of us who follow her on Twitter know – Mukhopadhyay is everything dating books are not – i.e. funny and whip smart. (Yes, I may have a wee bit of a girlcrush.) In fall of 2011, Mukhopadhyay released Outdated: Why Dating is Ruining Your Love Life, a humorous take on the self-help genre chockfull of anecdotes from the author’s own love life. Topics covered include: “dating while feminist,” the masculinity “crisis” and more. Apropos to Valentine’s Day, I asked the author to tell us more about Outdated.
Why did you feel you had to write Outdated: Why Dating Is Ruining Your Love Life? And why this particular title?
I wrote Outdated because I couldn’t believe how profoundly ignorant mainstream books on dating were and I couldn’t believe that no one had already written a book discussing how deeply problematic the assumptions about gender and love were in them. I felt the young women in our generation deserved something better.
If a girl had the opportunity to read one chapter in this book, what would it be and why?
Depends on how old that girl is, but probably the chapter on casual sex (Chapter 8: “Naughty Girls Need Love Too”). It is hard to find Real Talk on the pressures young women feel today to act a certain way sexually and parse through the messages to figure out what they really want.
How does your book speak to desi women, who find themselves pressured by both their families/culture and mainstream media?
I wrote the book from my point of view and I’m a South Asian woman, child of immigrants, and also an activist, feminist, and a whole assortment of other things. I think as a result many people from varying backgrounds will relate to my book. I didn’t gear the book specifically to the South Asian community but also didn’t shy away from talking about my experience as a South Asian woman. The world we live in is complicated and we are all bringing a diversity of experiences to it–will some parts of this book resonate more with some South Asian women? Probably–but it probably resonates mainly with anyone that has a more radical take on romance.
Were you nervous about using your own experiences in your book?
Yes, my goodness. Did you read my dedication*? I specifically dedicated it to my mother apologizing in advance for the contents of the book.
*Dedication: “To Ma, for sacrificing everything so I could have the opportunity to ask the questions you never had the luxury to ask. (I also dedicate this to you with the hope that you don’t’ kill me after reading its contents.)
Do you still date? Did you find it affected your post-book dating experiences?
Yes, I still date quite a bit and yes and no. If anything people want to know what it took for someone to get included in the book. I think people are fascinated by the subject more then anything.
Tell us about your Occupy Valentine’s Day movement.
Occupy Valentine’s Day is a tumblr and is in essence a media campaign to give people space to creatively express their frustrations with the narrow and limiting ways we think about love and romance especially on Valentine’s Day.
P.S. Readers, share the story of your worst Valentine’s date in the comments below and I’ll send one lucky person a copy of Outdated.
P.P.S. It’s not too late to submit your entries to the Occupy Valentine’s Day tumblr!