“Netflix and Chill” has become the eponymous slogan for modern dating. Nobody goes out anymore, but rather people tend to stay in to, as I said, watch Netflix and hang out. This usually leads to having sex, since dating still involves that, at least.

Netflix and Chill has been widely panned, almost entirely by women (that I’ve seen, anyway), as the end of the romantic dating era. The 1950s are looked at with whimsy as a time when men knew how to properly show a woman a good time. He’d pick her up in his car, drive her some place nice, pay for everything, and then maybe they’d make out a bit in the backseat before he takes her back home. Since sarcasm is occasionally hard to read in text based mediums, I will qualify my upcoming sentence as one that should be read as if it is dripping with sarcasm. I too am nostalgic for the relationships between men and women that existed before second wave feminism.

Most, if not all, of the traditional dating tropes heralded as respectful and chivalrous are examples of the domination of men over women. He picks her up because it is assumed she has no other way of getting around. He pays because he is the provider and she is servile. He makes all the decisions because she is incapable of such arduous tasks. Holding the door, pulling out the chair, treating her like a princess; all of these things put him in the position of power over her. There is a very good reason this method of dating is dying out, and it is because people realize that women are actually competent human beings, capable of both independence and autonomy. Who knew?

These expectations of dating are not entirely gone, however, and there is often lamentation toward their demise. Everyone likes being treated and spoiled every once in a while, and there is no harm in it of course. The harm arrives when it becomes gendered and based on sexist stereotypes. However, removing gender inequality from dating would not lead to Netflix and Chill, so what happened?

What happened can be answered by asking ourselves what we typically do in our spare time. When we’ve got time to kill, do we partake in a hobby, or read, or develop some talent, or otherwise engage in something that empowers ourselves as a human beings? No, probably not. The odds are good that we’re spending our time watching TV under a blanket, maybe with a glass of wine or something similar. Netflix and Chill has not become the standard version of dating because feminism ruined chivalry or because men have lost their authoritative dating masculinity, we Netflix and Chill because that’s all anyone ever does these days anyway.

Contemporary Western society exists as a collection of consumers who derive their identity from what it is they’ve consumed. People typically discuss the previous episodes or their expectations for Game of Thrones, or the Walking Dead, or the pretentious among us will talk about obscure shows and movies that nobody else has seen. And we accept this as normal. Even things outside of the media are based on what it is we’ve consumed. “Have you tried this restaurant?” or “I went to this bar/club the other night and it was amazing!” Even if daters escape the slothful confines of the couch and television, they are still likely to define their relationship on the basis of what it is they consume together. And so we Netflix and Chill because that is all we know how to do.

So yes, Netflix and Chill is a ridiculous form of dating. If you are opposed to the idea, don’t become nostalgic for a time when men were men and women were glad of it, because then your anachronistic sexism will pull feminist progress back 60 years. Maybe develop your own interests beyond the things you consume, and then assert those interests with potential dates. You’re allowed.

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