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

29 January, 2015

Followup on Venting a Bit and Invisibility

I actually went and read through all the thread comments after the comment I linked on the other blog post I mentioned yesterday, and one of the subthreads of discussion bugged me enough to make another post.

Okay so: two positions were put forth by people, which were "women are barraged by unwanted attention so maybe don't contribute to the firehose" and "women want to be hit on but only by the ones we want" and...

I don't exist in the middle of this.  I'm sort of at both/neither.

One of the reasons I feel invisibled by a lot of the discussion I've seen around this is that my actual preference in attraction is the nerdguys (see also the "Where are all the geeky boys with nice shoulders?" complaint).

And that that doesn't mean that I am universally and undiscriminately interested in such.

Another one of the reasons is that basically all the positive relationships I've had with men were ones where I was the pursuer.  (There may be exceptions but I can't think of one right now.)  Partly because I am in fact interested in the geek type and the geek subtypes I tend to find appealing are less likely to approach.)

So all of these conversations that just assume that women can wait and be approached by someone they want fail in several directions, and all of these conversations that assume that women do get relationships, somehow, magically happening, without asking, those assume that people like me don't exist.

(Which makes me entirely unsympathetic to the "I have to approach people!"  Yes, it's hard, and if you want to have a relationship with that person over there the only sure shot you get is going and seeing if that's possible somehow.  At least that's the reality I've got to work with, and when I see people complaining about it it feels a bit like seeing people complain that if they try to put things in midair they fall down.)

But I'm not the timid sort who never got approached.  Not entirely.  I would rather have been that than what I got, I think.

What I got was approached by bullies using sexuality as a weapon, by people who felt entitled to my attention, by people who thought that social association of any sort was consent to a romantic relationship, and by people who don't respect boundaries, understand no, or figure out that maybe pinning someone down on a couch and trying to pry their clothes off might be crossing the line before trying it.

So my emotional response is not so much "Don't approach me if I don't find you hot" but "The ones who I find hot don't approach me; the ones who do approach me want to abuse me".

(Plus, of course, that strangers aren't hot to me, and I can't imagine how they would be, so there are whole chunks of cultural somethingorother that are wholly beyond my comprehension.)

28 January, 2015

Just Venting A Bit

The problem with coming across things through link roundups is that it's often too late to join the conversation.  Which leaves me wanting to reply to this comment and not sure how to do it and so I'm taking it off here.  (Initial post worth reading, but I'm sort of wanting to poke the comment, which is #35 by someone whose handle is trazan.)

I had no meaningful connections with anyone. The problem wasn’t feminism, but toxic masculinity growing up. The culture (of boys) in my school was not democratic. I’d say values were fascist. You cannot tell someone their comment really hurt. Hurting is the point. It is dangerous to show weakness or be vulnerable. At the time I thought pupils in school were like inmates in prison. I wasn’t insane and I still had enormous trouble in contact with girls.

Reminds me of my experiences, yeah.  Though I wouldn't say "enormous trouble in contact with girls" regarding myself - I had enormous trouble in contact with people my age.  I was the sort of nerdy kid who could talk to adults and was hopeless at my own age.  I didn't listen to the right music, I didn't know the right jokes, I didn't wear the right clothes, and on top of that I was socially anxious, withdrawn, depressed.

I learned dissociation as a skill in junior high school.  Because the alternative was being bullied to tears and seeing the victory on their faces.  I also stayed late - for Math Team, or with manufactured reasons - and worked in the school store so that I wouldn't have to get on the school bus.  I would rather wait for the activity bus or just walk the two miles home (a mile of that along a state highway with no sidewalks, by the way) than deal with humans.  Particularly those humans.

They only got physical once.  I put the perp on the floor of the bus, and afterwards my sharp elbows became Our Little Joke, right?  We're all in this together, ha ha ha, we'll stay a foot or two away from you because bitches are crazy amirite, and nothing else changed.  Did I mention?  That bullying was sexual.  The 'got physical' was copping a feel.

On the other side of the gender line, I was invited to a party once.  A slumber party.  Packed up my things, delighted that there was someone who was being kind to me for once.

The address didn't exist.  I wonder which of the neighboring houses belonged to that person, whether they and their friends watched out the window to see if they could spot a forlorn figure with a pillow clutched close, wandering up and down the sidewalk checking to see if there was that house number, somewhere, in the world.  Eventually we gave up and my parents took me home.

The next school day... I figured that she would ask me where the fuck I was.  And I was planning to apologise, to say that I couldn't find the house.  Because it was probably my fault I missed the party, right?

I had one friend at that age, a boy.  We hung out together primarily because neither of us had anyone else, and because as geeky kids we had enough in common to, for example, go play Tetris.  And it was nice to have someone to sit and eat lunch with.  (Always at the same spots at the same table, me with my back to the wall, because for all that we were the lowest kids on the local totem pole he wasn't paranoid enough to put his back to a wall.)

Then I figured out that he thought I was romantically interested in him.  Which I wasn't.  And I didn't know how to correct his notion that 'we hang out and play Tetris' and 'we go do things sometimes' meant 'we are an item'.  He didn't touch me.  He never asked.  We had a whole additional relationship that existed solely in his head that he never, ever, ever explicitly told me about, and it turns out that that was as bad as the active bullies, because I'd thought we were at least some level of friends.

And I was desperately lonely.  I hadn't felt socially comfortable in my old school - this was not long after moving - but I did have friends there, and I missed them.  I missed the boy I fancied all through elementary school particularly, because he wasn't, at least in my head, anything like that.  (And the couple of times we managed contact after that, he didn't show any signs of being like that.)  But that was nothing to the gaping isolation and the outright hostility and the bafflement about why it was like that.

I never did figure out what was wrong with me.

There were shy girls. Maybe for some of them, school was a living nightmare.


This is one of the things that's gotten me about a lot of the "I had a terrible time in [junior] high school posts".  Obviously.  Discussions set off by the infamous comment 171 have had a lot of "[junior] high school is hell for shy nerdy guys" stuff going on where I'm going, "... yes?"

And then these guys describe stuff that's about 80% my exact experience - down to the emotional-sexual frustration and the fear of being caught at it. (And here's a thing: when I was fourteen, fifteen? I was creepy.  I stared at people I fancied and I was so sure I was being subtle and I really, really wasn't.  But I knew they'd never want me - they were otherwise involved, I was too much younger than they were - being an accelerated student works a real hash on stuff related to sexual development at times - and anyway there was that nebulous Something Wrong With Me that I could never pin down and meant I couldn't approach anyone.)

But I look at the stories and I say "That's basically me".  With less physical violence, in the cases where the stories have physical violence.  With more sexual assault to make up for it.  (And I'm not sure about the deliberate emotional abuse angle, both because that's harder to evaluate fairly and because it's the sort of thing people don't talk about.)

Only it's not me.  Because it's a Male Story, and it's so very much tangled up in being a Male Story, with that particularly apparently Male desire for sex/relationship snarling things up as if nobody female has that sort of thing going on.  (As if nobody female was ever asked "Please stop staring at me."  Um.  Guess I'm not, again.  I'm often not.)

But these narratives often come out as "This is a super-specially male narrative" - trazan doesn't do this, actually, even with the 'you know, maybe things were awful for girls in a similar position to mine when I was a boy', because he's being personal, not universalising, and is at least considering the possibility that there might, out there, be stories like mine.

But I wish for a bit that the experience could be degendered a bit in the social narrative.  "I was lonely and pining and had no friends and was afraid of terrible social consequences if I tried to change that" doesn't depend on gender presentation.  At all.

(And I'm tired of the myth that this stuff doesn't happen to girls.  That sex is just easy and simple for girls and women to navigate and be satisfied with.  Every time I see - and there's one or two of these dirtbags in the comment thread above the comment that pinged me here - "women have total freedom and get all the satisfying sex they want, so male insecurities are wholly justified" - I just.  I just.

I need a respite from this noise
The distant roar of static oceans
Give me a haven from this bedlam
And let my senses rust away

Let the wind erase me
Like the memory of a kiss
Let these waters take me
Away from all of this...

- Assemblage 23, "Let the wind erase me"

I just.)