She Talks: Dating in the Modern World

On Feb. 12 at REVELRY, we hosted SHE TALKS: Dating in the Modern World, a practical discussion about relationships, being single and navigating gender expectations in the digital age. With complimentary beverages by Argus Cidery, this panel featured four panelists, a pop-up coloring station featuring illustrations by Mean Thing Kate and an introductory monologue by performer and author, Aralyn Hughes.


Aralyn Hughes (performer, writer, Queen of Keep Austin Weird)
For over 33 years, Aralyn Hughes has been an Austin icon sharing her own brand of weird, as reported by Bill Geist of CBS Morning News when he crowned her the “Queen of Weird”. Aralyn has appeared as an ambassador for Austin on HGTV, Discovery Channel, both national and local CBS networks, various radio stations, and local Austin venues including Zachary Scott Theater. She was the co-author of In the West, one of the longest running monologue theatre shows in Austin, which also graced the Kennedy Center and was later adapted into the movie Deep in the Heart. At 65, Aralyn became a performance artist, storyteller and non fiction monologist. She's also a subject of a documentary, Love in the Sixties, which is a story of one small town woman from Oklahoma, who came of age in the 60s, taking on serious baby boomer questions about love, sex and death. Her first book, an anthology about child-free women who came of age in the 1960s, Kid Me Not, was also recently published in three languages. Kid Me Not is a provocative and controversial collection of essays, edited by Aralyn Hughes, where fifteen mostly Austin writers explain they they chose to eschew motherhood and often marriage. They are women of the 60s, now in their 60s—the first generation of women to really have a choice due to the advent of birth control pills in 1963.  Contributors give a unique perspective on the overwhelming cultural pressure to marry and have have children, and explore why it's not the only path to a happy, productive life.  Her book is currently featured in the Austin History Center and is available at the public library. Hughes will perform a monologue based on this book and will have a couple of copies available for public purchase.

Kate Holley (@meanthingkate, illustrator)
Kate Holley is a freelance illustrator in Austin, Texas, and she goes by Mean Thing Kate. She designs posters for Cheer Up Charlies and has had work featured on and in Peach Fuzz Magazine. "People don't usually like to hear females—they're the ones with the boob-nipples and the pink vagina bones—talk about certain subjects, so I make it a point to draw all the stuff that might make those people feel icky on the inside." - Kate Holley

Pictured: Illustrations by Mean Thing Kate

Pictured: Illustrations by Mean Thing Kate

Pictured: Aralyn Hughes

Pictured: Aralyn Hughes

The Panel

Featuring four multi-hyphenate professionals, in conversation with #bbatx Project and Ops Lead Maureen Nicol.

Meet our panelists and moderator below:

Nikki DaVaughn (panelist)
Nikki is a writer, coproducer of The Midnight Menagerie, the founder of Fat Bottom Cabaret, performer, emcee, body positivity activist, storyteller and all-around shenanigan starter. She spends her time in Austin drinking, dating poorly and telling stories about what its like being fat and black in Texas.

Bernadette Chavez Piñon (panelist)
Bernadette is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC-S) working with adults (18+) in Austin, Texas, who provides therapy and other resources to help individuals overcome stress, live mindfully, and cultivate the life and the relationships they want. Her personal mission is to empower and encourage individuals to navigate through changes and transitions in life genuinely, authentically, and with respect to their values and identities. On this panel, she'll share tips, recommendations and observations about pursuing meaningful relationships (should you choose) and maintaining a healthy relationship to self-love.

Melissa Hobley, CMO at OKCupid (panelist)
Previously Melissa was VP at Walgreens Boots Alliance where she was responsible for changing the way women engage with beauty brands. Prior to working in beauty, she was the head of marketing for Buyology, a company that incorporated the latest discoveries in behavioral economics and applied it to marketing and innovation. Melissa started her career in PR in New York City. She is a native of Muncie, IN. She lives in downtown New York City with her husband and daughter Madeline. Melissa sits on the board of Live4Lali and Shatterproof, non-profits both dedicated to addressing the opioid epidemic. She now uses this background to run things at OKCupid; she'll talk about OKC has learned about relationships through user behavior and how much digital has impacted dating in the last few years.

Maureen Nicol, Projects and Ops Lead at #bbatx (moderator)
Maureen is #bossbabesATX's Project and Operations Lead. She assists #bbatx with running as smoothly as possibly by managing the team, social media accounts, general inquiries and community news. Originally from Silver Spring, Maryland, Maureen has lived all over. Maureen moved to Austin for school and is pursuing her PhD in Early Childhood Education at UT Austin. She also runs an annual pop-up art camp for children, Camp Story.

Here are some takeaways and information to explore based on the night's conversation and the panelists' recommendations:

1.) During Aralyn Hughe's introductory monologue, she tackled what it was like dating in the sixties and why she has chosen to remain single now that she is in her sixties. She humorously approached the themes explored in her latest book, Kid Me Not, a compilation of essays from women who decided not to have children.

2.) Once the panelists joined us onstage, they began to explore our individual agency (i.e. one's ability to make his/her/their own decisions) to be single, take a partner, or engage in multiple relationships. 

3.) Our panelists then discussed the difficulty in dating—be that managing anxiety around relationships, feeling insecure, or simply dealing with rejection.

4.) To close the discussion, the panelists shared their personal approaches to navigating abusive behaviors in dating, especially the "disposal" culture that has manifesting around relationships that start online. Here are a few of those takeaways:

  • Melissa (CMO of OKCupid) stressed to intentionally use dating apps and to be aware and/or shut things down when someone is not using an app to intentionally communicate with you.
  • How do we deal with the frustrations of trying to date other people, when apps have made it so easy to ghost? Nikki shared that she has actually chosen not to use dating apps anymore, and she added that everyone should try their own medium and remember that although Austin feels small, there are many people who live here (and many more partners in the fish bowl).
  • In response to an audience question, the panelists tackled "gaslighting" in relationships and how to better recognize abusive behaviors. They settled on a few things: arguments that rapidly escalate, being accused of things that are false (like raising your voice when you're talking calmly and/or flirting with someone when you weren't, etc.), forcing a conversation or action when one side has clearly demonstrated they're uncomfortable and/or need a minute to think, etc. The panelists agreed that these behaviors can be red flags and that we should all be aware when we do them to others, too.

Interested in attending a SHE TALKS? We've got another one on Feb. 27 exploring art, money and mindset.

Meet the Producers, Partners and Venue

About #bossbabesATX: We exist to build educated and empowered creative communities at the intersections of sisterhood and space. Through event series, showcases and personal/professional development programs, we amplify and connect women-identifying artists, creatives and entrepreneurs. Since we've been in operation, we've provided a platform of visibility, outreach and financial opportunity to 300+ Texas-based women artists, 400+ women-owned businesses and women activists. We were named "Best Bossy Babes" of 2015 by The Austin Chronicle and we were selected by The White House to attend the United State of Women Summit in June 2016.

Our events prioritize the voices of self-identifying women and nonbinary folks. We are not gender-discriminant; all are welcome to attend. This production has been made possible in part our collaborators at OKCupid and by presenting partners the LINE ATX and Resplendent Hospitality.

About the space, REVELRY: REVELRY celebrates community and creativity through a variety of gatherings. From events, pop-ups and markets like The Swoon Event to dinner parties and creative workshops, REVELRY's mission is to craft experiences and bring people together. 

Jane Claire HerveyComment