Laurence Fox has made the news again recently with his comments on ‘wokeness’ and dating. He said on the ‘Delingpod’ podcast that he won’t date women under 35 because they are too ‘woke’ and ‘primed to believe that they are victims’. This comes after he allegedly dumped a former girlfriend for her response to Gillette’s ‘toxic masculinity’ advert.
Fox’s comments come across as rather funny, as there is something ‘woke’ in saying that you will choose to date women closer to your own age. Fox, 41, is thoroughly rejecting the traditional ‘half-your-age-plus-seven’ rule on age difference. Keanu Reeves was praised last year for choosing an ‘age-appropriate girlfriend’ who was seen with him at a red carpet appearance. One might think that Fox would be celebrated for doing the same, whatever the reason.
The controversy comes with his sweeping dismissal of a whole generation and his negative attitude to ‘wokeness’. First, we must look at what Fox means by ‘wokeness’ and why he takes such a disparaging view of it. I doubt it is their beliefs on social and racial justice that he takes issue with necessarily, but more the attitude that surrounds them. As in the case of the Gillette advert, it was more the lack of imagination and nuance with which the political message was relayed that people felt the need to criticise. In pushing only one narrative, ‘woke’ culture is seen as uncreative as it is not seriously challenged by another point of view.
Relationships are to some extent built on what you both share, and there needs to be some fundamental common ground in order for them to work
I think that Fox’s comments come with an element of sarcasm behind them. He is speaking in general terms. In this sense, I would say that he is right in his assessment of millennial women. Many of them would most likely self-describe as ‘woke’ as well. But where they would see the term as a positive, Fox sees it as a negative. What cannot be denied is that millennials and Generation X, the cohort to which Fox belongs, have rather different politics. But is Fox right to disregard potential partners on account of this alone?
It does make sense to want a partner with similar beliefs to your own. Relationships are to some extent built on what you both share, and there needs to be some fundamental common ground in order for them to work. There is no reason why this should not extend to politics. If you are serious about someone, and could eventually see yourself starting a family with them, you must agree on how you would go about doing this. You can only raise your children a certain way.
But this does not mean that you should rule people out who may differ from your worldview, even significantly. If you are confident in your beliefs, you should think that you can win other people over to them, including your partner. As clichéd as it is, opposites attract. You might find yourself compatible with someone you would not think that you could be.
Fox cannot tolerate the ‘woke’ because he believes they cannot tolerate him, or a worldview different from their own
So is Fox wrong to rule out simply for having ‘woke’ beliefs? I don’t think that he is saying that he cannot get along with people that he disagrees with, but the opposite. Maybe because it is becoming the the most vocal ideology, especially amongst Millennials, the standard for ‘woke’ people is to assume that everyone else shares their beliefs, a mistake not necessarily found with other ideologies. Any deviation from their belief system on your part will be seen at best as shocking and at worst as offensive and not a valid point of view. ‘Woke’ people do not have time for ‘non-woke’ people.
Fox cannot tolerate the ‘woke’ because he believes they cannot tolerate him, or a worldview different from their own. Even if not outwardly intolerant to him, he would feel unable to ever speak his mind for fear of upsetting them. This should not be the standard for any relationship. People should feel that they should be able to say whatever they want to a friend or partner. People with different views can get along, especially when aware of their specific points of difference.