xenologer: (Ravenna)
I grew up being referred to as "a firecracker" and "a pistol" and still getting slammed down every time that cute sparky spirit was being directed at them (the horror!)

Over time it just felt more and more like I was being praised for being a spirited horse. The only reason a lot of men want a strong woman is so that they can feel even more manly for being able to break a higher-level beast than the next guy did.

Makes me wish I could poop on them just by lifting my tail. Horses know the way.

Sadly, pooping in public is frowned upon, so I will have to settle for shredding every man who thinks he can use me as his personal attack dog. No, boys, you don't get to treat this bitch however you want and still have her fight for you, and being on the other end of my leash isn't as fun as you're thinking. What it really means is that the only person who isn't safe from me is you.

Boys.

They just don't think sometimes, do they?
xenologer: (Ravenna)
Okay, this is too long to reproduce it all here, but if you want a linkdump for all the clusterfuckery going down as a result of Ron Lindsay (apparently) being deeply ambivalent about the reason we all came together and expressing that in his introduction, here is what I have.
xenologer: (vagina)
A Guide for Men with Good Intentions

As the title indicates, this is not a post for men who don't care whether their sexual advances frighten women. This is not a post for men who think that a woman can ever do anything to deserve being raped. This is not a post for men who just have a serious problem with women in general because their big sister never shared the Nintendo controller or whatever. This is a post for the men who really do respect women and either are being confused with the assholes or are simply afraid they might be.

This is for men with good intentions. I am creating this in the hopes that it will be linkable to men in multiple situations whose good intentions may not always be coming across. Given that, if you have been linked this, it is not necessarily because someone thought every single one of these headers was about you. If you have been linked this, it is because someone absolutely does think you care about them and the other people around you and because they believe that you have the empathy and self-awareness to be both willing and able to consider how your actions affect others.

Basically, if you got linked this, someone thinks you're a good person.

If they didn't think that, they probably wouldn't be talking to you at all, let alone going to the trouble of reading, collecting, and linking resources that will help you have as many positive relationships as possible. If they didn't think you deserved to have the people around you be comfortable with you and be intimate with you, they would be spending their energy to mess with you instead.

So please take this in that spirit. I am not trying to talk down to you, but if you have not ever lived as anything other than a man then I am going to be talking about experiences you have not had. That makes you not the expert on them, and that doesn't mean you're bad. It just means that we're talking about stuff you probably won't understand unless you consider the accounts of people who have experienced it.

As an aside, women are not the only people who could explain this to you. A trans man, for example, is a man, but has probably been erroneously treated like a woman at some point in his life and can therefore probably give you some perspective on what it is like to live without male privilege. Even if he is currently identifying and identified by others as male, this is probably stuff he has seen. Ditto for genderqueer individuals who are or have been misidentified by others as female. Odds are that they also know things.

Despite that, I am going to use "woman" as shorthand for "someone who lives without male privilege" despite the fact that that is not even close to covering absolutely all such people, just because "woman" is far more concise than "someone who lives without male privilege."

This all means there are plenty of people who can and often will give you a picture of what's going on in the world for people with a different set of pressures than your own, and odds are if they are sharing their experiences with you it's not because they think you suck; it's because they are operating under the assumption that you care, and if they're right, this entry is for you.



Read more... )

As is typical, the entry to link (should you desire to do so) is here at DoaW.
xenologer: (bye bye)
But I have been following shit on FB so that I can back up those few people who actually bother to speak up for marginalized people and their "divisive identity politics."

I don't know if I can keep doing that.

I am so burnt out on this movement because I came here to try and use my education and experience to do some fucking good, and instead I have spent the last FIVE FUCKING MONTHS BEGGING PEOPLE TO TREAT ME LIKE I AM AS GOOD AS THEY ARE.

And now people are allowing her to claim that people just shouldn't be "announcing" that they're LGBT or whatever.



No.

No, fuck you. No.

Five fucking months! Unfuckingbelieveable.
xenologer: (vagina)
Today I was told that my ballsiness (word used deliberately) and general macho heroism make me masculine enough to be respectable, and then someone else called me a fag. Patriarchy, man. I am all up in it today.
xenologer: (objection!)
Okay, I have yet again had "this country was intended to function like X and we need to put it back like that" thrown at me, this time by a Ron Paul supporter but eh. It's too pervasive for me to just point at them and say it's their argument, though I'll get to him when I've picked apart that little highly-polished ball of shit.

Here's my feeling.

I am a lot less reverent of "the way things were intended to be" than I am "how things would need to be so that privileged and currently-marginalized people can have equality of opportunity."

The country we create means a lot more to me than the degree to which it matches someone else's idea of sufficient faithfulness to the ideological orthodoxy of a group of social contract theorists two centuries ago who had no more experience with the kind of culture I want to live in now than anybody else did at the time.

So rather than spending the rest of my life building a political theory around slavish obedience to the ideals of men who owned black people and mostly didn't think women were qualified to vote, I'm going to look at politics and government as a problem-solving exercise, not a test of my loyalty to "the founders."

Some of the same people who'd never argue that we should do whatever the Bible says (or seems to say) because it's a book written by people will nonetheless kill and die to demonstrate their unwillingness to depart from centuries-old ideas about what America should be like. I don't get it.

I don't think "the founders" were necessarily any wiser men than we have today. They had great ideas (though a lot of that was just them having the sense to identify ideas worth copying from other cultures), but they gave us a starting point. The Constitution they wrote is a great place to start, but it's not perfect enough as a place to finish.

That's why I can't join the libertarian party's devotional cult dedicated to "the founders" or their ideals. I am fairly familiar with what they wanted, where they differed with one another, and with whom I'd likely have agreed if I'd been around then.

Fact remains, though, that we're further along in this experiment than they were. We know things now that they didn't then, and if we're more concerned about orthodoxy than which policies will actually create a nation of equal opportunity... then I feel like that's way more of a betrayal of their legacy than anything I'm arguing for.

Read more... )
xenologer: (vagina)
So I posted the following link on FB, and it prompted a great discussion. I won't reproduce it here because people disclosed and shared and otherwise got personal and it'd be hugely skeevy to copy-paste it.

The link!

Men Get Raped Too--A Response
And as a feminist, let me say this: Guys, I understand that bad things happen to you. I understand that you experience rape, harassment, problems related to sexuality and your masculinity. I get that. When I talk about me? It’s not because I’m refusing to talk about you. You’re allowed in. Share your stories, but stop acting like there’s something wrong with me if I don’t talk about yours every single time I talk about mine. Tell us what happened to you and how it made you feel and why you feel that way. Sit down at the proverbial table with us, have a drink, and tell us what makes you sad about the world.

But don’t you dare fucking interrupt me while you do it. This is a conversation, and in a polite conversation you have to listen and wait for your turn.


There are a lot of people who don't quite grok the problem, though, and so I wanted to add to the proliferation of links to explanations just in case for whatever reason I put it in that special way that works for someone who read the others and thought, "WTF is this shit," and walked away still not getting it.

After all, not everybody is going to have the patience to sit down and type hundreds of words. A lot of people have had The Derailing Conversation too many times, and are so sick of it that now they may well just say "screw it" and give up on the whole thing. If you've ever brought up men's problems in a discussion about the problems women face and gotten this reaction...



...then you just met them after about the thousandth time this has come up. They are very tired. I am not (today), so here is a thing that I wrote that I thought might help.

Read more... )
xenologer: (do not even)
On the new message board for the new Indy Occupation (IndyOWS), a thread was started with the following prompt:
Post only what you want to share, like where you're from, what brought you to IndyOWS, what would you most like to see accomplished by the Occupy Movement...

This is OUR forum, let's start sharing!


This is what I posted. It's not perfect, but I thought I'd preserve it here for posterity, if only to look back on it in a few years and cringe. I sort of hope I do. The fact that I look back on stuff I've written only two years ago and think, "Oh fuck I didn't know anything," is a good thing. It means that I must have learned something during that time.

Anyway. There's a conversation that I haven't really seen happening in my local Occupy movement, and I think it's largely because while we have some truly amazing and badass people of color helping out... it's a lot of white people. The best of these white people probably just don't feel like they're qualified to talk about racism and what kind of damage it really does, and they're right. But the alternative? Not talking about it at all?

I don't know. It just doesn't feel right.

So I figured I would at least try. I'm sure I'll screw it up and I'm sure I really don't know much when it comes down to it, but I just can't see how I'm helping anybody by sitting and being quiet and hoping that a person of color will come along and say it all perfectly.

I wrote it while I wrote this entry, so you'll see some stuff repeated as I refine my thoughts and put on my big girl pants to try something that I know going in I probably won't be very good at.

Read more... )
xenologer: (do not even)
Having a perfectly lovely conversation on Facebook about reason and faith. Now, there was a guy, A, who was agreeing with me, and that's awesome. Then a woman posted to disagree with us, and he started showing his ass.

Here's the relevant bit of the exchange. )
xenologer: (I have arrived)
Someone on my FB page asked for my thoughts on this article, in which the reprehensible "No means yes, yes means anal" rape apologism at Yale is blamed on the sexual license argued for by feminists. Yes, that's right. It's all the uppity bitches' fault.

A group of mostly female students is suing Yale University for allowing a “sexually hostile environment” to exist on campus.

The women, of course, have a point. After all, when frat boys are allowed to parade around the old campus chanting “No Means Yes,” or to hold up signs that read “We Love Yale Sluts,” I guess you could say that’s a sexually hostile environment.

But may I ask a question? What did you expect?


The rage, it knows no bounds.

I think this man is an asshole who is bitter on behalf of all jilted men that women are fighting for the right to fuck, but not with him. I mean, look at this.

The disgusting, intimidating behavior at Yale -- and on many college campuses -- is a classic example of the post-modern impasse. For nearly 50 years, academia, the feminist movement, and post-modern society have embraced sexual freedom as the ultimate good.

And the feminists led the way. They wanted to control their bodies; to be free from any consequences of sexual license.


He completely misses the point that women want to control their bodies, even though it's right there in his own description of their goals. The goal of feminism was never that women's bodies ought to be treated like public property; that is in fact the PRECISE WORLDVIEW that feminism is still fighting.

This asshole seems to think it's perfectly natural and inevitable that uppity women who have the nerve to do what they like with their sexuality should be treated like disposable whores, there for the taking by any man.

As far as I can tell, Colson literally CANNOT envision a world in which female sexuality is not controlled by somebody other than the woman herself. He presents an utterly insane and backward choice for women--either you let Jesus own your sexuality, or it will lay there unclaimed and men will just rape you all the time because you don't belong to anybody.

"Does the Christian view of sex promote intimidation, harassment, and brutish behavior like we’re seeing at Yale, or does it promote moral and ethical virtue?"

By treating female sexuality as something which must always be in the possession and under the control of a man, it certainly does promote intimidation, harassment, and brutish behavior. By treating this as the natural outgrowth of women thinking they can just walk around like they're human beings with a right to do things other than powerspawn babies for their husband and Jesus, he reinforces the slut-shaming and depersonalization of women who fuck that is the very basis of the rape culture we live in.

This man is an asshole. He is an asshole, he is an asshole, he is an asshole, and if you want the most obvious indication that he is an asshole, he is blaming feminism for the culture of degradation and rape on college campuses INSTEAD OF BLAMING THE RAPISTS. Why? Well, because boys will be boys, and it's always the woman's fault if she gets raped. She had to have done something to ask for it, right? Like demand the right to vote, to have or deny sex, to hold a job, to decide not to have children. The natural outgrowth of the fight for women to have these things is not RAPE. That is the natural outgrowth of SOMEONE BEING A RAPIST.
xenologer: (human monsters)
Day Five: Apologism Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry

I know there are still people reading this--if they haven't defriended me over it--who insist that the real intolerance here is mine, that the real bigotry, hatred, and harm comes from compiling these links and not from the organization whose actions have been reported on. These people are apologists, who will say and do anything to defend their church because that is what they have been taught they must do. Is it loyalty? Is it fear of being cut off from salvation without the church? I don't know, you tell me.

But here's my problem with this sort of apologism. When someone says, "A priest molested me as a child and shamed me into silence," apologists are the ones who say, "Yeah, but not all priests are like that, so try to express your pain in a way that doesn't make Catholics uncomfortable." When someone says, "I was locked in a workhouse and assaulted physically and sexually when I wasn't actively engaged in forced labor," apologists are the ones who say, "That's really sad honey and Imma let you finish, but the church does a lot of charity work and I'd like to derail this conversation to talk about this other thing for a while." When someone says, "Scientific journals have criticized the RCC for their habit of lying to at-risk populations about AIDS," apologists are the ones who say, "Yes, but a condom is just like a cigarette filter! What do doctors know about epidemiology that the College of Cardinals doesn't?"

In short, apologists are the ones who take a conversation that makes them uncomfortable and put their own feelings at the center of it so that rather than talking about the victims of the RCC's wanton callousness, racism, and unvarnished cruelty... we're talking about how sad it is that victims' advocates hurt Catholic people's feelings by pointing these things out. The real problem with apologism is that when you come into this discussion defending the Catholic church, what you are really saying is that you don't like us talking about harsh realities and would rather we discuss a comforting fantasy. Well, you can save that horseshit for church where it belongs. This is the real world.

In the real world, the Catholic Church probably hates you. Stop defending it like a battered wife who's sure her husband really really does love her, he's just got a funny way of showing it and you're sure that if you stay and show the church love and don't make trouble and be everything it asks you to be, it'll understand what it's been doing to you and everything will turn out like the RCC promised you it would be.

It's pathetic. Stop it.

If you missed it, here's Day One: The Church Hates Gays, Day Two: The Church Hates Women, Day Three: The Church Hates Africa, and Day Four: The Church Loves Child Rapists.

Hope you've enjoyed my blog series. This is a topic I've gotten tired of hashing over again and again and again, and now at least I have something I can just link to people when I'm too lazy to deal with the same regurgitated apologism. Feel free to do the same, if you're so inclined. Just link back to me so that I can pat myself on the back and feel useful.

Love, peace, and suchforth,

me.
xenologer: (vengeful)
An important note from emigree about a cyberstalker to beware of on LJ and several other social networking sites.
The user fort_kanji, known in real life as Lohr Miller, is a close-to-sixty year old who lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He constructs an identity for himself on Livejournal that is predicated on pseudo-intellectualism and thinly veiled misogyny, racism, and sizeism. He values what he called BRDYTW girls, which stands for "bookish reclusive dangerously younger train wrecky," a new acronym to stand in for an older adjective he invented based on the condition of cachexia, in which a person suffering from cancer or another chronic disease loses weight and muscular strength as a result of the disease. These girls are invariably white; he has a history of coldly dissociating from nonwhite women because of their racial or ethnic identity. These girls are also preferably underage or in their early twenties. Mr. Miller has had a history of supporting and enabling eating disorders, drug abuse, and alcohol abuse in young women.

Additionally, Mr. Miller, upon acquiring contact information for young women he adds on Livejournal, proceeds to contact them relentlessly, often with unwanted levels of communication. In a single evening, Mr. Miller sends 3-4 mass e-mails on average--sometimes as many as 8 or 9--bemoaning his loneliness and giving his telephone number to anyone who might want to call. He is the Internet equivalent to a crazy ex drinking a bottle of wine alone at 2am, only he does it almost weekly. Worse, if given a mailing address, Mr. Miller sends unbelievable quantities of sexually explicit letters, postcards, and large boxes of books, often multiple numbers of each in a month. In one (read: my) case, it took threats of calling authorities to finally get Mr. Miller to stop. He has also been known to comb the Internet looking for any information about young women who have already blocked him on Livejournal, and writes entries that (a) detail their goings-on and writes explicitly sexual entries about them or (b) deliberately distorts or twists the realities of the source material.


Beware of this person, and please repost emigree's warning. This guy will seriously post the street addresses of women he's targeting, because he is a sick sick fuck. Even if you haven't encountered him, someone on your F-list might.
xenologer: (vengeful)
An important note from emigree about a cyberstalker to beware of on LJ and several other social networking sites.
The user fort_kanji, known in real life as Lohr Miller, is a close-to-sixty year old who lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He constructs an identity for himself on Livejournal that is predicated on pseudo-intellectualism and thinly veiled misogyny, racism, and sizeism. He values what he called BRDYTW girls, which stands for "bookish reclusive dangerously younger train wrecky," a new acronym to stand in for an older adjective he invented based on the condition of cachexia, in which a person suffering from cancer or another chronic disease loses weight and muscular strength as a result of the disease. These girls are invariably white; he has a history of coldly dissociating from nonwhite women because of their racial or ethnic identity. These girls are also preferably underage or in their early twenties. Mr. Miller has had a history of supporting and enabling eating disorders, drug abuse, and alcohol abuse in young women.

Additionally, Mr. Miller, upon acquiring contact information for young women he adds on Livejournal, proceeds to contact them relentlessly, often with unwanted levels of communication. In a single evening, Mr. Miller sends 3-4 mass e-mails on average--sometimes as many as 8 or 9--bemoaning his loneliness and giving his telephone number to anyone who might want to call. He is the Internet equivalent to a crazy ex drinking a bottle of wine alone at 2am, only he does it almost weekly. Worse, if given a mailing address, Mr. Miller sends unbelievable quantities of sexually explicit letters, postcards, and large boxes of books, often multiple numbers of each in a month. In one (read: my) case, it took threats of calling authorities to finally get Mr. Miller to stop. He has also been known to comb the Internet looking for any information about young women who have already blocked him on Livejournal, and writes entries that (a) detail their goings-on and writes explicitly sexual entries about them or (b) deliberately distorts or twists the realities of the source material.


Beware of this person, and please repost emigree's warning. This guy will seriously post the street addresses of women he's targeting, because he is a sick sick fuck. Even if you haven't encountered him, someone on your F-list might.

The Pickup

Oct. 19th, 2009 12:10 pm
xenologer: (smash patriarchy)
First: another nosebleed? Really?!

Second:

Schrödinger’s Rapist: or a guy’s guide to approaching strange women without being maced
Gentlemen. Thank you for reading.

Let me start out by assuring you that I understand you are a good sort of person. You are kind to children and animals. You respect the elderly. You donate to charity. You tell jokes without laughing at your own punchlines. You respect women. You like women. In fact, you would really like to have a mutually respectful and loving sexual relationship with a woman. Unfortunately, you don’t yet know that woman—she isn’t working with you, nor have you been introduced through mutual friends or drawn to the same activities. So you must look further afield to encounter her.

So far, so good. Miss LonelyHearts, your humble instructor, approves. Human connection, love, romance: there is nothing wrong with these yearnings.

Now, you want to become acquainted with a woman you see in public. The first thing you need to understand is that women are dealing with a set of challenges and concerns that are strange to you, a man. To begin with, we would rather not be killed or otherwise violently assaulted.

“But wait! I don’t want that, either!”

Well, no. But do you think about it all the time? Is preventing violent assault or murder part of your daily routine, rather than merely something you do when you venture into war zones? Because, for women, it is. When I go on a date, I always leave the man’s full name and contact information written next to my computer monitor. This is so the cops can find my body if I go missing. My best friend will call or e-mail me the next morning, and I must answer that call or e-mail before noon-ish, or she begins to worry. If she doesn’t hear from me by three or so, she’ll call the police. My activities after dark are curtailed. Unless I am in a densely-occupied, well-lit space, I won’t go out alone. Even then, I prefer to have a friend or two, or my dogs, with me. Do you follow rules like these?

So when you, a stranger, approach me, I have to ask myself: Will this man rape me?

Do you think I’m overreacting? One in every six American women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. I bet you don’t think you know any rapists, but consider the sheer number of rapes that must occur. These rapes are not all committed by Phillip Garrido, Brian David Mitchell, or other members of the Brotherhood of Scary Hair and Homemade Religion. While you may assume that none of the men you know are rapists, I can assure you that at least one is. Consider: if every rapist commits an average of ten rapes (a horrifying number, isn’t it?) then the concentration of rapists in the population is still a little over one in sixty. That means four in my graduating class in high school. One among my coworkers. One in the subway car at rush hour. Eleven who work out at my gym. How do I know that you, the nice guy who wants nothing more than companionship and True Love, are not this rapist?

I don’t.

She goes on to give some advice to men who don't want the women they're interested in to feel menaced by a potential rapist. Good stuff that's been circling the blogosphere, but that deserved one more reposting.

The Pickup

Oct. 19th, 2009 12:10 pm
xenologer: (smash patriarchy)
First: another nosebleed? Really?!

Second:

Schrödinger’s Rapist: or a guy’s guide to approaching strange women without being maced
Gentlemen. Thank you for reading.

Let me start out by assuring you that I understand you are a good sort of person. You are kind to children and animals. You respect the elderly. You donate to charity. You tell jokes without laughing at your own punchlines. You respect women. You like women. In fact, you would really like to have a mutually respectful and loving sexual relationship with a woman. Unfortunately, you don’t yet know that woman—she isn’t working with you, nor have you been introduced through mutual friends or drawn to the same activities. So you must look further afield to encounter her.

So far, so good. Miss LonelyHearts, your humble instructor, approves. Human connection, love, romance: there is nothing wrong with these yearnings.

Now, you want to become acquainted with a woman you see in public. The first thing you need to understand is that women are dealing with a set of challenges and concerns that are strange to you, a man. To begin with, we would rather not be killed or otherwise violently assaulted.

“But wait! I don’t want that, either!”

Well, no. But do you think about it all the time? Is preventing violent assault or murder part of your daily routine, rather than merely something you do when you venture into war zones? Because, for women, it is. When I go on a date, I always leave the man’s full name and contact information written next to my computer monitor. This is so the cops can find my body if I go missing. My best friend will call or e-mail me the next morning, and I must answer that call or e-mail before noon-ish, or she begins to worry. If she doesn’t hear from me by three or so, she’ll call the police. My activities after dark are curtailed. Unless I am in a densely-occupied, well-lit space, I won’t go out alone. Even then, I prefer to have a friend or two, or my dogs, with me. Do you follow rules like these?

So when you, a stranger, approach me, I have to ask myself: Will this man rape me?

Do you think I’m overreacting? One in every six American women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. I bet you don’t think you know any rapists, but consider the sheer number of rapes that must occur. These rapes are not all committed by Phillip Garrido, Brian David Mitchell, or other members of the Brotherhood of Scary Hair and Homemade Religion. While you may assume that none of the men you know are rapists, I can assure you that at least one is. Consider: if every rapist commits an average of ten rapes (a horrifying number, isn’t it?) then the concentration of rapists in the population is still a little over one in sixty. That means four in my graduating class in high school. One among my coworkers. One in the subway car at rush hour. Eleven who work out at my gym. How do I know that you, the nice guy who wants nothing more than companionship and True Love, are not this rapist?

I don’t.

She goes on to give some advice to men who don't want the women they're interested in to feel menaced by a potential rapist. Good stuff that's been circling the blogosphere, but that deserved one more reposting.
xenologer: (dolorosa)
Overhearing a Bluetooth conversation can be kinda awkward, so it's really most polite to sit and pretend that you don't hear the person near you engaging in a totally separate conversation within earshot. Right? Right.

I was at the library reading a book I'd just bought when an older (not old, just older than I am) African-American man sat down on the couch next to my chair. I heard something about him always having interracial relationships, and I didn't think anything of it until later.

He asked me for directions someplace, and after giving him my best guess I exclaimed, "Oh! I'm an idiot. Hold on." I grabbed the map of downtown Indy that I'd gotten from the tour station at the State House and handed it to him. He thanked me and told his friend on the line that someone had the library had lent him her map. I heard odd snippets of conversation, but I ignored them because he wasn't talking to me.

Then I heard, "Excuse me." I looked up. "Are you seeing someone?"

I must have blinked at least once before replying. "Yes." I started to go back to my book before looking up to add, "Why do you ask?"

He replied, "Oh! You're just a... nice-looking person," with a vague gesture at his own face.

I said, "Ah. ...Okay..." and went back to my book. Or tried to.

The conversation continued. "No, man. No, man, she's seeing someone. I already asked. ...Yeah. Hot, though. What do you want me to do, man? I already asked!" At this point I couldn't help but smirk as I continued doing my damndest to read. It was then that I remembered him mentioning that he always dates white women.

He turned to me again and apologized if his conversation was bothering me. I told him it wasn't, and he continued with his friend, "No, man, I shouldn't be having this conversation around her." He said that a couple of times, mentioning that he had to "respect her as a woman."

But then he made some other comments that could have been about me or about someone else in the library lobby. I was determinedly reading my book, and didn't look around too much. I heard something about "deep in that ass," and "Man! White women everywhere today!"

By this point I was so simultaneously perplexed, amused, and astonished that I couldn't help but smirk whenever he said some ridiculous thing. And it was a little ridiculous. I heard him reference a hot woman and didn't realize he was talking about me again until I heard him exclaim, "Ah, she's blushing now and everything! I shouldn't be talking about this here."

It was then that Brian showed up. I carefully ignored the random guy while I greeted my boyfriend and, though I told the stranger to have a good evening, I pointedly took Brian's hand as we walked out so that he'd see.

As obnoxious as this would be if it happened all the time, and while I'm perfectly aware of the chauvinist overtone of discussing a woman's appearance as though she were not within earshot, I couldn't help but be a little flattered. My mother always mentioned good looks as something that put a woman at risk. A woman had to appear frumpy at work or she wouldn't be taken seriously and men would sexually harass her. She had to appear deliberately dowdy at other times or she'd be a target for sexual violence. Beauty was something that brought terrible danger into a woman's life, and was therefore more of a hazard than an asset.

But lately I've been feeling kind of proud of it. People have made me blush like mad more than a couple times these past few days bringing up my looks as an obvious asset, which only seems to entertain them more. It's like it hasn't occurred to anyone that I'm not used to having it come up.

I'm not, though. Until my parents found out that I'd started having sex, the best I'd ever gotten from either of them was the one time my stepdad had told me that I actually wasn't a bad-looking young woman. After that my mother mentioned it all the time, which made it seem less an honest bit of praise and more a desperate attempt to bolster self-esteem she thought must be lacking because clearly no young woman ever really wants sex; she just wants affirmation and attention. There are no young women in love, just women who don't love themselves enough. Even if this were true, wouldn't suddenly beginning to tell me I'm pretty at nineteen be too little too late?

So I guess it's one thing to be attractive, and quite another to believe it and then yet another to become comfortable with it. I'm getting there. If I could only figure out how to not blush so easily. Why does everyone love that so much, anyway?
xenologer: (dolorosa)
Overhearing a Bluetooth conversation can be kinda awkward, so it's really most polite to sit and pretend that you don't hear the person near you engaging in a totally separate conversation within earshot. Right? Right.

I was at the library reading a book I'd just bought when an older (not old, just older than I am) African-American man sat down on the couch next to my chair. I heard something about him always having interracial relationships, and I didn't think anything of it until later.

He asked me for directions someplace, and after giving him my best guess I exclaimed, "Oh! I'm an idiot. Hold on." I grabbed the map of downtown Indy that I'd gotten from the tour station at the State House and handed it to him. He thanked me and told his friend on the line that someone had the library had lent him her map. I heard odd snippets of conversation, but I ignored them because he wasn't talking to me.

Then I heard, "Excuse me." I looked up. "Are you seeing someone?"

I must have blinked at least once before replying. "Yes." I started to go back to my book before looking up to add, "Why do you ask?"

He replied, "Oh! You're just a... nice-looking person," with a vague gesture at his own face.

I said, "Ah. ...Okay..." and went back to my book. Or tried to.

The conversation continued. "No, man. No, man, she's seeing someone. I already asked. ...Yeah. Hot, though. What do you want me to do, man? I already asked!" At this point I couldn't help but smirk as I continued doing my damndest to read. It was then that I remembered him mentioning that he always dates white women.

He turned to me again and apologized if his conversation was bothering me. I told him it wasn't, and he continued with his friend, "No, man, I shouldn't be having this conversation around her." He said that a couple of times, mentioning that he had to "respect her as a woman."

But then he made some other comments that could have been about me or about someone else in the library lobby. I was determinedly reading my book, and didn't look around too much. I heard something about "deep in that ass," and "Man! White women everywhere today!"

By this point I was so simultaneously perplexed, amused, and astonished that I couldn't help but smirk whenever he said some ridiculous thing. And it was a little ridiculous. I heard him reference a hot woman and didn't realize he was talking about me again until I heard him exclaim, "Ah, she's blushing now and everything! I shouldn't be talking about this here."

It was then that Brian showed up. I carefully ignored the random guy while I greeted my boyfriend and, though I told the stranger to have a good evening, I pointedly took Brian's hand as we walked out so that he'd see.

As obnoxious as this would be if it happened all the time, and while I'm perfectly aware of the chauvinist overtone of discussing a woman's appearance as though she were not within earshot, I couldn't help but be a little flattered. My mother always mentioned good looks as something that put a woman at risk. A woman had to appear frumpy at work or she wouldn't be taken seriously and men would sexually harass her. She had to appear deliberately dowdy at other times or she'd be a target for sexual violence. Beauty was something that brought terrible danger into a woman's life, and was therefore more of a hazard than an asset.

But lately I've been feeling kind of proud of it. People have made me blush like mad more than a couple times these past few days bringing up my looks as an obvious asset, which only seems to entertain them more. It's like it hasn't occurred to anyone that I'm not used to having it come up.

I'm not, though. Until my parents found out that I'd started having sex, the best I'd ever gotten from either of them was the one time my stepdad had told me that I actually wasn't a bad-looking young woman. After that my mother mentioned it all the time, which made it seem less an honest bit of praise and more a desperate attempt to bolster self-esteem she thought must be lacking because clearly no young woman ever really wants sex; she just wants affirmation and attention. There are no young women in love, just women who don't love themselves enough. Even if this were true, wouldn't suddenly beginning to tell me I'm pretty at nineteen be too little too late?

So I guess it's one thing to be attractive, and quite another to believe it and then yet another to become comfortable with it. I'm getting there. If I could only figure out how to not blush so easily. Why does everyone love that so much, anyway?

April 2016

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