Yesterday I was having breakfast with a friend who is in the process of transitioning from female to male. I was telling him about my recent dating adventures and subsequent fears. He told me that a lot of the fears I have about men, he has about being a man—they’re things he was worried about turning into. That really made it hit home that my fears are prejudices—no one should have to be scared to become a man because of stereotypes, and I shouldn’t be afraid to date them, either.
I work in an afterschool program with elementary students who are very dogmatic about gender. At least once a week, I give them a rousing speech about how limiting gender generalizations are. I’m a social justice-y egalitarian-minded girl and I’m ashamed to be walking around with my own terrible generalizations. Part of the reason I started this project was to learn my way out of my terrible ideas about men, so maybe listing and debunking some of those fears will help.
- Doll-phobia. Most of the fears are me-specific. For example, I don’t think that guys want every woman to be a sex-doll, I’m just afraid that my emotions are so ugly and crazy that men will only want to enjoy my body as separate from my personality. As with all of these fears, I’m not sure why I don’t apply them to women—Sweetie seems perfectly fine with my mess of a personality, just as I adore hers. Also, I have lots of platonic guy friends, so I guess that this fear only applies to men who are attracted to me. Which brings me to:
- Attraction feels like aggression. Whenever a guy is attracted to me, especially in the toppish way that I crave, it feels very dangerous. I guess I have a hard time thinking that guys are capable of feeling genuine affection towards me, so the pursuit I’m craving feel scary and I worry that it is just a way to hurt me. This is a terrible thing to think about people. I always wished I could have gotten to know Bill separate from this idea, but maybe I sought him out because he proved the fear—I’ll never know, because I never really knew him.
- I’ve always worried that I’m missing some essential quality that would make me appealing to men. I’ve always felt like other women just had some secret that I wasn’t let in on.
As much as I enjoy being a bottom, one of the qualities that I worry about being without is compliance. I’ve been really shocked and hurt by the way that men have tried to control me outside of scene situations. Not ALL of them, of course—the Mayor of Kittentown was a loyal reader and was super supportive of all of my other endeavors as well. He never displayed jealousy, but instead, like Sweetie, seemed to genuinely root for my other adventures to be fruitful. He never made me feel like I had to change or hold anything back. I also have so many wonderful and generous guy friends who have supported me every step of the way. I guess this fear is also top-specific, but I know that the right top would not expect me to be compliant outside of scenes.
- I’m-Not-the-Pretty-Sister Syndrome: I am afraid that there will always be a woman that he loves better, and that means that I’m afraid that I can’t ever have a relationship with a guy who truly belongs to me. That is a dangerous fear for a polyamorous woman to have—feeling like I’m always going to be less-than is going to be a nightmare if I end up in a constellation. I think the key to this is to make myself start dating only guys who are emotionally available, whether they are in other relationships are not. When I feel loved, validated, and free, I don’t feel competitive.
- I’m afraid that my size makes me unlovable and untoppable (again, by men). When I first started thinking about dating men, I had strong fantasies about being taken, especially just being shoved into a wall and kissed. But I had this idea that because I am so big and bossy I could never feel what it’s like to be pursued, for someone to want me enough to take the initiative and the lead.
When I was in middle school, my drama teacher told me I was too tall to ever be the leading lady, and I certainly have watched men respond more positively to smaller women.
When I first joined FetLife and started going to play parties, I started to see the reality that men like all different shapes and sizes of women, and that every woman can be a hot showoff sex goddess the way that I want to be. I started to feel that for myself.
Yet somehow, I still get the idea, that guys see me as less than other women because of my size, maybe not les fuckable, but less datable. I was convinced that Bill wouldn’t go out in public with me because he thought I was too fat, and I never had the courage to ask him.
Society does seem to teach us to value fat people less than skinny people, big women less than little. Being not-skinny does come with all kind of stereotypes and assumptions.
One of the worst of these, and one I have to fight myself from thinking, is that a fat girl better fuck anybody who asks, because we’re lucky to be asked at all. That’s part of what makes it difficult for me to wait for the right person/people to come along, even though I want to feel like I deserve the right connections.
- The other night at the poetry reading, a guy read a story that suggested that the plain woman had to give up the idea of finding a guy she’s attracted to, or she would deserve whatever heartbreak she gets. I’ve felt guilty these past months because physical attraction is important to me, not the only thing that’s important, but still.
- And I am very worried that I am too ugly for a man. I don’t have a pretty little face; it’s very pronounced and expressive. Remember MySpace profile pics? I never could master the slack, dreamy, passive look we were all supposed to have in those, any more than I can stop myself from smiling in photos where I’m being submissive—nor should I ever have to!
I know that men are not shallow automatons who choose whatever face and body type they are told to. I see all different looks and bodies on women who are in happy relationships with guys. Again, these fears are mostly me-specific.
I hope that by naming some of the fears, I can start to move past them. They seem pretty stupid when I write them all down. I would love to let guys in to prove the fears wrong and start moving towards real connections. I want to stop selling guys so short, give them time to get to know me, and let myself get to know them. Like Sweetie always says, I have a lot of dreams.