Chill as an Instrument of Oppression

By Emma Paling

Men don’t feel the pressure of chill, my friend Julia told me on Sunday night, because they’re the ones who invented it.

“Men are the sole beneficiaries of chill,” she said. “They’re the ones who are imposing chill upon us.”


/CHil/            noun

  1. an unpleasant feeling of coldness in the atmosphere, one’s surroundings, or the body



  1. NORTH AMERICAN informal

very relaxed or easygoing

“I’m just a chill guy looking for something chill.”


Chill doesn’t mean what it used to mean. For anyone born before the ‘90s or too long into a relationship to have used Tinder, chill is the new casual. Chill is having sex without commitment. But commitment doesn’t mean what it used to mean anymore, either.

Commitment is a monogamous relationship, yes, but commitment is also making plans more than two hours in advance. Commitment is meeting someone’s friends. For some heterosexual men, commitment is leaving their couch.

I tried to explain modern dating to my parents once. “You have sex with somebody for many weeks before going on a date,” I said sagely, waving my fork in the air. They didn’t get it.

Chill has wildly changed how dating works. The only thing that’s impressive now is how little someone cares about you. A perfect date hasn’t answered your texts in three weeks, can’t remember your roommate’s name, and is really too focused on his beats right now to spend time with any one human on a regular basis. A perfect date would omg like, never call it that.

Chill people are “too far removed from anything that looks like intensity to have passions,” Alanna Massey wrote for Medium. “Being enthusiastic… is downright obsessive.”

“Chill presides over the funeral of reasonable expectations,” she wrote.

In a chill world, no one ever appears to have feelings for someone they’re dating. In a chill world, everyone’s chillin’ with a few people, so if you don’t see one of them for like two months, that’s totally chill.

In a chill world, women naturally fulfill men’s expectations, but never have any of their own.

Many males I know will probably find it hideously unchill to discuss gendered dynamics in personal relationships, but chill is how women of our generation are silenced in everyday life. It’s how men are exonerated for any shitty behaviour and women are shamed for having feelings about said shitty behaviour. As Alison Stevenson recently wrote for Vice, unchill is the new hysteria. You know, that completely made-up disease that deemed women mentally ill for having sexual desire, and justified our disenfranchisement and subservience to men.

We are expected to know someone wants to see us without them saying it. We are expected to meet on men’s terms and fuck on men’s terms. We are expected to not just accommodate, but anticipate, men’s feelings – all while pretending they don’t exist.

There is nothing “relaxed” or “easygoing” about chill. If anything, chill has come full circle to its original meaning: “an unpleasant feeling of coldness in one’s surroundings.”

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