Monthly Archives: April 2012

He will never marry you.

He will never marry you… Here is how I know.

He will not marry you because you are unsure. And when you meet the one who will, you will not be unsure. Maybe you wont know. But you won’t NOT know.

You will not call me wondering if you should break it off. Analyzing what he means. Because you know what he means.

You will not stay up all night with a pit in your stomach wondering what he is doing. If he is thinking about you.

You will not break up. And get back together. And break up again. And be back together.

One day you -will- get married.

I will find out that you were engaged or married via your pictures in the life and culture section of the paper. Or Facebook. Or something like that.

You will have been too busy getting married to call me to ask me if I thought he would ever marry you.

You may have been too busy marrying him – from the moment your steps seemed to fall into place together, to the private jokes you shared, to the accidental touch of your hands in the box of popcorn. To the wordless agreement that you would watch his dog while he was with his sick mother and the fact that he never had to ask and that you never, ever had to wonder if he would do the same for you.

You were busy marrying him when he unexpectedly paid the remainder of your rent but did not tell you yet that he had been laid off from his job, and you were marrying him when you found out he’d lost that job, so made a date of television, a bottle of cheap wine and a pot of spaghetti.

You were marrying him when you made love to him because you wanted to. Not because it would hold him to you. Not because he expected it.

You were too busy marrying him to call me, or to update your Facebook, or to blog, when he showed up to drive you to the doctor when you were sick but your car broke down.

You will not call me to ask me if you will ever marry him, because you have already been too busy marrying him. And one day, I will hear from you. It will be when you invite me to your wedding, if we are close. Or when I read your status update on Facebook, if we are not that close. And I will look at your pictures, and tell you that you are a beautiful bride, and smile at how happy the two of you look.

I will smile at how beautiful it is, your wedding on the courthouse steps in the simple off-the-rack pink dress from Nordstrom’s, that you made do with because you were too busy marrying him and forgot to plan a wedding.

And I will smile quietly to myself.

Because I already knew you would marry him.

Here is how.

You called me one time. One time, and one time only. You called to panic because you did not know whether you would see this one again.

After all. He is a little too boring. A little too bald. A little too short, or a little too fat.

The pit in your stomach is not there, the constant ache.

And you don’t know how to live without that emptiness, that gnawing.

I will hear from you that time, and that time only, if I hear from you at all.

And that is how I know he will be the one for you.

So for now –

If you are to call and ask me if the man you are seeing will ever marry you – he will not. If you post sad posts on Facebook wondering what is going on or if you should get back together or you wonder what he is thinking – he will not. If you make love but it holds the slightest tinge of worry and regret – he will not.

I am sorry.

I can promise though that perhaps… One day in the near future… You will love, and be loved.

And it will be another.

 

 

 

* This has circulated a little bit – I wrote it last year. I’m the original author.

Are you a shark or a leech?

I’ve observed that our culture has certain stereotypes of women and men – women as being latchy and manipulative and parasitic and opportunistic and exploitative (like a tapeworm), and men as being aggressive and predatory (like a shark).

I hate these stereotypes. I invariably run into them whenever I’m among any group of single people of any orientation and gender. Gynophiles of either gender are on guard against being parasitized by those needy, latchy women who will move into their house, keep them up all night talking, and spend up their credit cards. If you’re a straight(ish) man who has been around the block a bit, you might be on guard against women wanting to marry you as quickly as possible, spend your money, and have the babies that you will have to support but never get to see. Or so sayeth the Internet. If you are a gay(ish) woman, then you might be concerned about the “U-Haul Lesbian” stereotype and that the woman who came home with you from the company Christmas party… might take two years to get rid of.

Androphiles of either gender are on guard against being predated upon, consumed, digested, then shat out; the predator will then find other prey to consume. Straight(ish) women and gay(ish) men alike despair that they’ll never find love and tenderness, and fear that men only want “one thing”… and then to move on as quickly as possible.

Mind you, I am speaking in stereotypes… but I feel I’m expressing the fear and dread that many singles have, and how unflattering gender stereotypes play into this fear.

The worst part is that the stereotypes are not equally perjorative. Sports teams do not call themselves the “Fighting Leeches” but wolves, tigers, sharks, and other predators adorn their banners. Nobody wants to be predated upon, but there’s still a certain glamor to being a predator.

Both predators and parasites consume others, but predators consume from the outside. Parasites get inside the body and consume you from within.

Women’s dating books tend to try to show women how to avoid being predated upon while also convincing the other party that they are not a parasite. Trouble is, as a woman, you’re already seen as a parasite. You can’t gain prestige in the scenario when you never had any to start with; as soon as you said “yes” to the date, the other party may have already assumed that you were likely to want to move in with them and have their babies by the third date, and may have lots of rules to keep them from getting parasitized.

Furthermore, there’s some degree to which there is the meta-message that women are opportunistic; it’s thought that we take what we can then cash out our chips to go off and have babies, as if we’re just there – on the job, in a relationship – for whatever resources we can extract, without actually contributing anything to the body we’re parasitizing.

It’s all very ugly – but the thing is – of the two – the “parasite” image is actually far, far less flattering. It’s hard for me to look myself in the mirror if I have to think of myself as a parasite.

Predators tend to take a certain pride in being predators, and we tend to admire them for being strong and goal oriented, even as we cringe at the bodies that drop around them…

But who wants to be a parasite?

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Sex Geeks

ImageLiam Neeson as Dr. Alfred Kinsey, in the film Kinsey. A favorite film of many “sex geeks”, who may use it as a jumping-off point for discussing the impact of the Kinsey Report upon American society… but Kinsey
himself may or may not have been one.

This is one of the most divisive topics among the people I know, which is why I started using the term “Sex Geek” to define a specific set of interests.

A “Sex Geek” is someone who is interested in sexuality, gender roles, and gender relations in a social, anthropological, scientific, political, and/or cultural context.

This does not include an interest in sexual techniques or behavior nor does it say anything about the particular Sex Geek’s relationship to sex positive feminism or anything of the like.

The distinction needs to be made because there is a tendency, I’ve discovered, to confuse sexuality – as an academic, psychological, political, cultural, or scientific “thing” – with eroticism and or sexual behavior. Some people have expressed to me in the past that any discussion of the former is only done by immodest people, or lonely people. There needs to be a term so that the topic can be discussed as a kind of meta-discourse.

Discussing the political ramifications of the Pill, the implications of cosplaying Princess Leia’s slave costume, or the impact of pornography upon society… is not the same as discussing one’s personal behavior.

They are not the same.

They are not the same.

They are not the same.

Also, while “Sex Geekery” is a common discussion in many circles (such as social justice and or feminist circles), it shouldn’t be confused with those. Many, many feminists and social justice enthusiasts are Sex Geeks but not all Sex Geeks are feminists or social justice enthusiasts. Sex Geeks may even be asexual or celibate or have religious vows. They just have an interest in the role of sexuality and gender across many academic and cultural disciplines.

Sex Geeks.

Let the term be known. Let it be known far and wide.

Introducing the Non-Player Character.

The Non-Player Character, in the world of role playing games, is a character who is controlled by the game master or one or more players for the purposes of furthering the plot, but who is (most often) not portrayed with their own agency.

They are basically a “placeholder” that fits the needs of the other characters, or of the plot.

I’m going to expand the definition a bit, because I think it is a useful metaphor.

Many of us approach the other people in our lives as NPCs.

Here is a rather horrifying and creepy story that I came across, from “Controlling People” by Patricia Evans, that illustrates one such relationship between a “game master” and their “NPC” as it might play out in real life:

The Teddy Illusion

What is fascinating to me about some portrayals in the media of women who are excessively adorable but lack inner life or agency (I’ll elaborate on this later because I have my own interpretation and take on the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” stock character) is how they are basically serving the purpose of being an NPC to the main character and to some degree, the “adorableness” may be perceived via an unreliable narrator who really does not know his love interest’s inner life. He has to idealize her via what little he does know – her various quirks and her music preferences.

You also frequently see this portrayal of the male costar in a “chick flick”; he doesn’t really exist outside of the female character’s mind. In fact, I’d love to see a film that actually played with this concept and subverted it (he in fact DOESN’T exist outside of her mind).

The thing is, we act out these dramas in real life. Many of us never get past seeing other people as NPCs.

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Internet Overgeneralization Syndrome (IOS)

 

That is where you assume that the minority of very loud and vocal people on the Internet speak for everyone (when in fact the most extreme people simply shout the loudest). And you assume that all of the people you see online represent the problems, hopes, needs, and wants of EVERY person you will meet in real life… when in reality, people in internet communities are the outliers of the social bell curve.

Inevitably, you go into Costco and are in total SHOCK that people aren’t trolling each other in the produce section, that everybody isn’t arguing about social justice issues in line at the checkout, and people aren’t jumping in to correct each other because someone is being wrong on the Internet, and most people are not immediately identifiable as anarcho-socialist, genderqueer, burlesque dancing, polyamorous Burning Man trapeze artists and most of these people don’t even know what a meme IS, and not only do they not insist on really skinny partners who seem to do everything perfectly, but… they’re all pretty ordinary and even schlubby themselves.

And you realize, if there’s hope for all of these ordinary people, there’s hope for you.

 

Subjective reality and Twilight

A brief thought that I have often had:

There’s an extent to which I think there’s truth in the subjective reality model – not that the universe *is* a figment of my imagination, but it’s a good working model for how we exist. We’re born solipsist, and spent the rest of our lives gradually growing conscious of the fact that other people exist and have a life which has nothing to do with us. Whether at first or forever, we are often attracted to “characters” more than people. Before we realize that we’re not the only people in the world, the people in our lives are Non Player Characters.

They’re the shadows moving on the wall of our existential cave.

And when we operate from this perspective, we don’t seek relationships, we seek actors to act out the parts of our internal drama.

Whether you belong to Team Edward or Team Jacob or are not even a Twilight fan (heck, I’m not), here is a metaphor: it’s not just that (many) women want Edward but that they want to be Bella, and need an Edward to act out that role.

And I should NOT know the names of characters from Twilight. But pop culture is the mythology of today.

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Tribescanning: the Science of Small Talk

Just to get things started off, I thought I’d repost an old blog entry from a previous blog.

Some background with this issue: I’m an introvert and a bit of a geek, so for a long time, I found myself at a loss in many social environments and social situations… I got along perfectly well in geeky/nerdy circles but there was quite discernibly something “out of sync” about the way that I related to non-geeks.

Many of the retroactive observations I made of the geeky world, after I left it, agree with the observations made in the famous (within the geek subculture)  Usenet post about “Fanspeak” which posed the interesting claim that people in fandom communicate differently from the mainstream. One observation I have made is that in geek circles, people tend to jump right to the point of a conversation pretty quickly, without as much of the usual process of “feeling the other person out”. People bring up common interests with the intention of discussing those interests, not merely establishing “oh, we share those interests”.

Here, therefore, is my blog entry “Tribescanning”. Enjoy. Let me know what you think, and I’d especially love it if you’d share your own observations.

Continue reading

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