Friday, February 24, 2017

Fuck This Sexist Piece of Kindhearted Advice

            Not the first part, that’s like my whole thing. The “let love find you” part.

Last week, I left the library where I worked with Mr. Makeout Music. There were a lot of good reasons for doing so (Work crushes can sometimes be a sign that I need to be doing something more absorbing.) but the main reason was that it was exhausting to keep pretending to be okay around him. I wasn’t. Now that I’ve got the time and space and naps to heal, the pain of him is almost gone.

            Because I couldn’t bring myself to walk past MM one more time, Sweetie went to clean out my desk for me, with Awesome Genderqueer Librarian’s help. In the bag with my collection of kid art and my desk socks was a lovely stack of “We miss you!” cards from kids and coworkers. It was very gratifying to still be valued there, after three sometimes-crying months of love-shame and election grief. The woman who wrote the above advice is one of my favorite humans in the universe, but it unleashed a stream of gleeful annoyance that I’m kind of excited to paragraph.

            It’s partly that she knew (Ugh, everybody knew.) that my leaving was even about heartbreak at all, but mostly it’s this—I’m mad at myself for spending three months crying about a guy who got scared of me because I made the first move. He has tried to frame it in other ways, but from where I’m sitting, he adored me until I took his hand.

            Of course he had the right to decline my advances for any reason, but I hated the way I felt around him after that—too big, too excited, too complicated, too much. About our weird somewhere-between-friendship-and-the other-thing situation, he kept saying “just let things develop organically” every time I had a question or needed a clarification, but I think what he meant was, let things develop on his terms.

            Even the way our flirtation started, with him visiting my department or my office when he could (He had keys to my office, but I certainly didn’t have keys to his.), with me waiting around with an open heart and what I hoped was a pretty face for him to come and be praised, it sometimes made me feel helpless and trapped, even when things were nice. In one of our fights, I said I wasn’t a web cam girl, just waiting around to approve of him. (He probably wished he hadn’t told me his porn preferences…) The way the building is designed, he could see me from almost any of his posts, and it felt really claustrophobic sometimes.
            The “let love come to you” (if you’re a woman) paradigm is part of what makes the traditional structures of dating unworkable to me. When I like someone, I really like him/her/them. When I want ANYTHING, I try very hard to be awesome at getting it. If I’m attracted to somebody, I tell them. I ask for what I want and see if it works for them. I’m not Sleeping fucking Beauty, I’m an adventuress on a quest. On a good day,  I’m a goddess, and men have been known to kneel down for me without my even having to command it. I have a dominant, honest, brave, ridiculous heart that knows what it wants and will always go after it.

            The passiveness of the “wait for love to find you” paradigm takes me to a dark place. It reminds me of necrophila. It reminds me of rohypnol. (When I just Googled that for spelling, the horrifying third choice was “rohypnols buy.”) It reminds me of back when there was MySpace and all of my guy friends liked girls whose profile pictures managed these slack, vacant expressions. I could never have made my face look uninhabited enough to resemble the ghost/zombie girls who were the style of the Mid-Zeroes. It reminds me of the time I was told that I smile a lot for a submissive.
            The boxed-in passiveness of the advice reminds me of Moana being told that everything she needed was on this one little island and that all she had to do to be happy was reject the song of her own soul. (Did anyone else see her and her many new islands as a polyamory tale? Maybe it was just me.) Like Moana, I am an explorer, a leader, a navigator. I won’t sit in a box and wait to be clicked on, and I hope to never tunnel-vision myself into any more narrow little islands of gendered constraint.

Like many of my rants, this is really a culmination of an argument with myself. Since my brokeny teenage years, I’ve always “known” in my heart that I’m not passive enough to be loved by a man, that I could never be compliant or compromising enough for a straight cis male. That idea is offensive to one and all, but it didn’t come from nowhere. I would love for it to go away.

When I look at it objectively, I see that Mr. Makeout Music was a rare exception. I am surrounded, past and present, by men who have enjoyed being sought out, pursued, and pounced upon. Far from being a turnoff, my literal and figurative bigness and enthusiasm have drawn the best, most adventurous, most oomph-filled men to me. Some of them have even stuck around.

Though I’ll always appreciate the way that he woke up my body and heart, I think Mr. Makeout Music mostly served to show me what I don’t want—I never want to try and make myself smaller or less in hopes that someone with a narrower scope might see me. I never want to be stuck on an island again.

            I know that romantic love isn’t something that can be to-do-listed into existence, but I WILL have agency. I will not sit in a box and wait. I will not listen to the fears and the family/social pressures that kept me away from the water. I aim to untie myself from the hetero/mononormative shore and learn to sail. My heart knows the way.

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