I think most men can’t appreciate the way society pressures women to be “nice” and accommodating at all times.
I hate that my first instinct is always to look out for other people’s feelings – even at the expense of my own. I hate that when a guy* asks me to do something I don’t necessarily want to do, my thought process is “Well I’m not sure I want to, but it probably took a lot of nerve for him to ask, and I don’t want him to feel rejected, and anyway it might not be so bad, and maybe I can propose [compromise] to make it more palatable…….” and on and on ad nauseam, but when I ask a guy to do something he doesn’t want to do, he’ll instantly and easily go “Nah, I don’t feel like it.” Like literally the only deciding factor for him was “Would this make me happy?”
Just to be clear: I’m not pissed off that guys don’t agonize over my feelings for a minute and a half before they answer every simple question. I’m pissed off that I do agonize. And I’m pissed off that I’ve ended up doing things I didn’t especially want to entirely too often. It’s one thing to go to a friend’s birthday party even though I’m really tired or having social anxiety issues – that, to me, is par for the course. It’s another thing entirely to have sex I don’t want to have, or let a boring stranger talk my ear off on the bus when I just want to read my book, or humour someone who seems like they might chatting me up because there’s still plausible deniability so if I said “Yeah…not interested” I’ll look like a bitch.
But I figure everything gets easier with practice – including defending one’s personal boundaries. So my new philosophy is that whenever someone asks me to do something, I’ll try to shush my inner monologue and boil it down to “Do I want to do this thing?” and answer accordingly.
Sometimes I default to old habits. Sometimes there are valid reasons for me to put someone else’s feelings first (like my birthday party example above). Sometimes it’s too scary or awkward to assert my needs (situations with strange men usually feel this way). But…there are also a lot of times when I do assert myself, and OMG IT IS SO FREEING.
Today on FetLife, some guy sent me a private message to tell me he really liked something I’d said in a discussion group. That was sweet, so I thanked him. Then he asked me why my username has “GF” where the gender should be, and I gave him a brief explanation of gender fluidity. I like teaching people stuff, so that was fine.
Then he asked me if I’d mind sharing whether I’m male- or female-bodied – adding that although he doesn’t mind a variation in gender presentation, he’s really only attracted to female bodies so he’d want the person to have a vagina underneath it all.
This threw me into turmoil. I rehearsed a number of replies in my head:
Yup, I’m female. [Immediate change of subject.]
Well, with all due respect, I’m not looking to date anyone new right now so I feel like my genitals are irrelevant to this conversation.
Are you hitting on me? Because it sort of seems like things are headed in that direction and I feel I should tell you that I’m not looking for anyone right now.
Wow. You seem to be evaluating whether or not I’d qualify to date/fuck you when I haven’t indicated at all that I’m even looking for someone. Do you have any idea how presumptuous that is?**
I’m most attracted to local guys who are under 40 [he is neither of these things] so obviously this isn’t going to go anywhere, but yes, for the record, I’m female.
Then I remembered that I could just…block him.
I struggled with that for a minute. He wasn’t coming off rude, just well-meaning but clueless, so shouldn’t I try to educate him? (NOT MY PROBLEM.) Would he feel angry if he realized I’d blocked him? (NOT MY PROBLEM.) Would he feel hurt if he realized I’d blocked him? (NOT MY PROBLEM.)
Basically, the answer to “Would it make me happy to keep talking to this guy?” was NO, and blocking him would not only end the conversation but ensure that he won’t be able to reply to me in some icky vengeful fashion (or even see my profile! Maybe he’ll think I just left FetLife entirely for whatever reason), so fuck it.
I can’t believe I once again started to sacrifice my own well-being for the sake of someone else – an internet stranger, no less! As soon as I blocked him, I felt like a huge weight had fallen off my shoulders.
Doing what I want is awesome.
*Or anyone else, but right now I’m making a point about men.
**If you’ve heard the phrase “male entitlement” and never particularly got what it meant, that’s a prime example right there. My FetLife profile does not in any way say that I’m looking to hook up; this guy initiates contact with me (it’s not like I approached him and hit on him; there is no reason for him to believe I’m interested in him) and then within three messages he’s all “Sooo…do you have a vagina? Because I’ll only fuck a woman who has a vagina.” Ummm COOL STORY BRO but what gave you the idea I was auditioning to be your sex partner?
Another male entitlement story: I was reading a news article online about Susan Boyle’s singing career, and in the comments some dude wrote “I would never fuck her.” Ummmm COOL STORY BRO but the article wasn’t about whether or not she’s fuckable – it was about her new album! And I can just about guarantee that she doesn’t want to fuck you, either, so why are you announcing your preference like a king haughtily condemning a peasant to death?
In both cases, guys are assuming that women exist only to fuck them, and that we must all be dying for the privilege. That’s entitlement. And it fucking sucks.