So Tell Me ... What's The Weather Like on YOUR Planet?

04 October, 2007

Threat Displays

It's interesting the way arguing with people can sometimes illuminate things I already knew, but from a different, more compact angle.

This fellow turned up in a discussion forum and asked some questions, and despite the fact that he rubbed me kind of wrong, I did some responding. Up until someone posted to note that what appeared to be a name was in fact a pseudonym -- he was posting under the name of the main male character from the "Big Love" television show, about Mormon patriarchal polygynists. Which sort of left me with a thought of, "... oh, well then. That explains why he sounds like a sexist asshole."

But one of the things that I got quite clear on was this underlying notion in his conversation that women are passive in relationships, which seemed to be threaded through a lot of his basic perspective. He was baffled by the fact that I consider a guy who is threatened by the fact that I have other (male) partners (female partners are hot, you know, so that's maybe okay, especially if he can join in ... sigh) to be threatened by me.

But no, he said, from a guy's perspective it's that other guy who's the threat.

Now, the way I see it, that's treating me as someone with no agency. There's no recognition that I have chosen to be with someone, but a skipping off to 'that someone is a threat to me'. And the fact that if it wasn't that someone, it would, at some point, be someone different doesn't matter -- there's no recognition of my capacity for choice, for the fact that I am an active participant and factor in my own relationships. The woman is the passive possession of the man, and there is an ownership conflict here.

Those other people aren't "threats" because of themselves, because of who they are or what they do, but only because they exist and are chosen and desired. There is this illusion that if that object of desire is destroyed, the desire will cease to be; this guy suggested that one couldn't consider the woman a threat, because threats were to be obliterated. So her choice has to remain inconsequential, inevitable, without motive; all of the 'threat' has to be passed on to someone uninvolved, someone one does not have to deal with as an intimate. Someone one isn't risking losing something by hating.

And it's a horrible depersonalising thing to do to someone, an utter objectification: to hate them not for themselves, for who they are or what they do or any of that, but solely because someone else interacts with them in a particular way. It erases their humanness and casts them into a role, and because that role is deemed unacceptable, the person is unacceptable. The person who wishes to have that someone in that place, the supposed partner, is exempt from consideration in this; it's that other person's fault, the other person who is vile, the other person who is the threat to the way things should be. It doesn't even get to "If only you were someone who didn't want to be with them, you'd be perfect", more often than not, because that requires acknowledging that that person is genuinely someone other than the blow-up doll version of want-you-like-this.

I've run into people on occasion who thought I would be a great partner if only I were someone else -- more monogamous, more busty, more ambitious, curvier, more sweet-tempered, more compliant, less religious. If only I didn't have these other people in my life, if only I wasn't short-tempered, if only someone else was in my skin, I'd be so good for them. If only my agency could be subsumed into someone else's, if only I were more posable, more agreeable, more like their fantasies of me.

And I figure there are thousands of people out there who are more monogamous, bustier, mellower, athier than I am, so someone who wants one of those should go finding them rather than try to make me into someone I'm not. And if that someone goes beyond that to being actively threatened by who I am, well, ... I'm catankerous, difficult, and not interested in changing. Thousands of other people. Shoo, shoo. There's probably nothing wrong with what you want, but I'm not going to give it to you. Who I am is not what you want, not even with judicious editing.

I am the director's goddamn cut with the special features and the actor interviews. I make no apologies.


Anonymous said...

"And I figure there are thousands of people out there who are more monogamous, bustier, mellower, athier than I am..." Just reminded me of my friend who says, "There's always someone wittier, prettier, and tittier than you." Ha ha ha.

Dw3t-Hthr said...

Pretty much, yup!