BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO.

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.

*BLOCK*.

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.

26 Comments

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26 responses to “BECAUSE I DON’T WANT TO.

  1. Uch, yeah for the suckingness of socialization. For me it usually takes the form of, as far as some part of me is concerned, if there is some way I could upset someone, it is my job to make sure to never do it ever. Even at cost to myself, even when the ‘rule list’ is contradictory. *sigh*. Here’s to fighting back against it all.

  2. Just A Slut

    As submissive as I am asserting what I want or need outside of a scene has never really been a problem for me. But I am extremely proud of you and wanted to give you a pat on the back. Saying “enough” when you aren’t used to it is hard. I am glad you did it and found courage not to fall back into an old familiar habit.

    Have a great day

    -C

  3. judith

    Except for a very few highly educated and academic men i know, ALL men look at women in one way: what they look like and if they are fuckable. It does not matter if you are f..in Cecilia Bartoli or Zaha Hadid. I am no feminist but I for the last 10 years (since I came to this realisation) could not get over this fact. It’s fucking NOT FAIR.

    • Can I just say, it drives me a teensy bit insane when someone says some version of, “I’m not a feminist but women are treated unfairly just for being women and that sucks.”

      The definition of feminism – the actual dictionary definition, mind you, is: “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” In other words, a feminist is someone who sees that women are treated unfairly just for being women, and thinks that it sucks. You’re not obligated to use that word to describe yourself, but I wanted to make sure you knew what it meant before you decided. 🙂

      And yeah. It would be nice to feel like strange men thing of me as a human being first and a potential lay second. I’m sure some of them do. But the other ones are unfortunately a lot more vocal. 😛

      • judith

        I exactly meant that I do not believe in “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes” – at all. I never believed in communism either (which I had my fair share of), trying to force on everyone to live in the same apartment wearing the same looking clothes because we are all supposed to be equal. Believe me it is not working.

        What I meant to say about men – or maybe more like _to men_ – is that as we live in a democratic twenty-first society, so please try to *overcome* your instinct to verbally handle any piece of female meat as something for you to use, sort of in a way you do not wipe your dick in the curtain.

        That’s it. 🙂

        • judith

          ok, my English not at best after 2 glasses of wine, but I’m sure you get the point…

        • So, you…don’t believe that men and women are equal? How can a person be female and not believe in gender equality? Unless you’re a female supremacist…

          But no, seriously, I don’t get it. Plz to explain your philosophy some more?

          Also: LMFAO at the imagery of someone wiping his dick on the curtain. 😀

  4. Good for you. Fuck that bullshit social brainwashing. As women there is absolutely no reason for us to be doormats.

  5. I have the same problem with saying no, getting better at it though — much to my husband’s chagrin. He’s not a toad (not completely anyway lol) he just hadn’t noticed until I’ve stopped being so accommodating. And he’s actually been okay with it,and has yet to react in the horrible way that I keep anticipating he will. Of course, internet men are a whole ‘nother animal. Anonymity brings out the asshat in them. Blocking is the perfect response.

    As far as the fuckable thing goes — they’re socialized with it too, so I give ’em a tiny break there. And the guy friends I’ve been close enough to to have a conversation about it acknowledge that it’s crappy, but it’s hard to shut up the penis. Okay, I can believe that but be a grown-up and keep it to yourself, we don’t care and it’s squicky — you’re not going to get laid that way.

    • And he’s actually been okay with it, and has yet to react in the horrible way that I keep anticipating he will.

      In some ways, that’s the most infuriating part of this assertiveness journey for me: nobody’s actually gotten angry at me for saying no, or even really noticed most of the time! (People I’m close to, that is. Random internet people seem to get really pissed off if I’m not super-nice all the damn time.).

      So all these years that I’ve had sex I didn’t want and gone to social events when I was depressed/anxious/tired/sick and put up with someone actually physically hurting me because I literally couldn’t say “stop”…all of that was for nothing. I could’ve looked out for myself all that time and suffered few – if any – social repercussions.

    • As far as the fuckable thing goes — they’re socialized with it too, so I give ‘em a tiny break there. And the guy friends I’ve been close enough to to have a conversation about it acknowledge that it’s crappy, but it’s hard to shut up the penis.

      I’m not even asking guys to shut their penises up. I just want them to remember that I have opinions and agency of my own.

      If that FetLife dude had asked me if I was looking for a new partner, or said “I’d like to hook up with you – would you be into that?” I’d’ve been okay with that (as long as he backed off once I said no). Questions like that indicate that he sees me as a human being.

      But his actual approach was more like a guy checking labels in a grocery store (“Hmmmm. Is this low-fat? I’ll only buy it if it’s low-fat”) – the assumption being that the only thing stopping us from fucking is that I might not meet his exacting standards. Like the fact that I might not want to fuck him is not even occurring to him.

  6. “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?””

    THIS is very much my internal monologue about a lot of interactions with people in my life and it is definitely a product of the socialization I received as a kid. Even though I’m aware of it, have examined it, and rejected it, it is still SO HARD to nip it in the bud. But like you, I’m getting better at it and holy shit does it feel better to consider my feelings first. Thanks for the great reminder! 🙂

  7. uncommonmurre

    Putting others first isn’t something that’s taught exclusively to women, it’s a part of most religions. It’s something I strive for as a Christian, and so do good Hindus, Buddhists, neo-Pagans, etc. I have not noticed that women try any harder at it than men, though women seem more inclined to say kind things, men to do kind actions.

    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.

    I would like to gently remind you of this.

    Really, not new at all.

    But certainly it’s something to be avoided in any gender.

    • I have not noticed that women try any harder at [being accommodating] than men

      Well, you wouldn’t, would you? Unless you’re a telepath.

      I think you probably self-sacrifice as much as I do, if not more; I can see the same tortured monologues in some of your blog posts as my “sample thought process when asked to do something” above. But I would say that on average, men do not put as much thought into the needs of others as women do. It’s really starkly obvious to me, actually.

      I would like to gently remind you of this.

      In this post, I share an anecdote about a total stranger asking “Are you ___? Because I’ll only have sex with someone who’s ___” – not in response to me saying “Hey, we should totally fuck” but just plunked into a totally nonsexual, non-flirtatious conversation.

      You’ve replied by linking to another post of mine in which I’m wishing a regular partner of mine would prioritize sex with me over his other commitments, but realize this is unreasonable.

      I do not see the connection.

      • …And I also don’t understand the relevance of the anti-liquor women in the second link.

        • uncommonmurre

          The anti-liquor women (Carrie Nation and some friends from the WCTU) are attempting to change the behavior of men in general by broadcast advertising their refusal of sexual relations with any man who drinks. It’s a whole other stage of assumed entitlement added on past the the “so do you have a vagina” guy. It’s like what it would be if put himself on a billboard saying “Don’t bother presenting as female unless you have a vagina, I only fuck women with vaginas.”

          That female entitlement to being desired sexually is foundational to the transactional model of sex – the male entitlements in that model are totally different.

          It’s not any better when men act as if desire for them is an entitlement, but it’s SO not specific to men.

          Now that I’ve written this out I feel like maybe it’s so obvious that it never occurred to you that I’d bother pointing it out? Oh well.

          • It’s not any better when men act as if desire for them is an entitlement

            You’re missing a huge part of the equation. It’s not that men act as though desire for them is an entitlement. It’s that they act like they’re entitled to get laid whether I desire them or not. See: Nice Guys who beseech women who already rejected them to “Just give me a chaaaaance!”, dudes online who proposition people who clearly would not be into them, etc.

            As it stands, it’s like a lot of guys can’t conceive of women as having desires like regular people at all – that we’re just blank canvases for men to project their own wants and needs and fantasies all over. That’s basically what I’m angry at with FetLife dude.

            [The anti-drinking billboard is] like what it would be if put himself on a billboard saying “Don’t bother presenting as female unless you have a vagina, I only fuck women with vaginas.”

            Ah. I see what you mean. A preemptive strike toward men who never said they were interested in the first place.

            Upon reflection, I can see there may very well be women who feel “entitled to desire” from men. I’ve heard of women getting really vengeful when rejected, and accusing their rejector of being gay, for instance. If they really think that a guy who doesn’t like them must not like any women, well…that’s problematic. ‘Course it’s equally possible that they’re just feeling hurt and striking out in a way they know will hurt back.

            At any rate, I maintain that I am not a person who feels entitled to sex or desire from men.

            • marika grofno

              I think the official, culturally-approved reaction for a woman who is rejected is “OMG I must be so ugly and fat, I must buy all the stuff the beauty industry offers and I have to get a new diet, or nobody will ever wnat me, and rightly so!”, instead of “you must be gay then, fucker”. I think neigher of these are healthy, and I’d like to get to a point when my reaction would be that hey, tastes differ, I hope next time we’ll both find people we’re better matched. But Murre, don’t forget the pressure on being beautiful enough. Guys who bash women uninterested in them with stuff like “I wouldn’t touch her with a ten foot pole” rarely stop to worry about their appearances.

      • But I would say that on average, men do not put as much thought into the needs of others as women do. It’s really starkly obvious to me, actually.

        I also think there’s a difference between putting thought into the needs of others and having anxious internal monologues about absolute accommodatingness. Like, there is no way that ‘this random woman I met on the internet satisfying all my desires immediately’ is a need for anyone ever, while it could be very fairly argued that learning to think about the people you’re propositioning as individuals is totally a need.

        In other words, this socialized ‘niceness’ isn’t about putting though into people needs – it’s about feeling like it’s your job that some other people are sparred all bad feelings. Which is not just not a need – it’s often contradictory to needs.

        • In other words, this socialized ‘niceness’ isn’t about putting thought into people’s needs – it’s about feeling like it’s your job that some other people are spared all bad feelings.

          YES. This. You worded it better than I did.

          My ex bf and I used to give each other a lot of massages. If I accidentally went too hard, he’d let me know it wasn’t working by saying “NO.” If he accidentally went too hard, I’d let it go on for forty-five seconds or more because I was trying to mentally compose the most tactful way to tell him to stop (and when I’m in pain, I lose the ability to articulate myself, making it really difficult to formulate the words).

          So yeah…I felt I had to sugar-coat a request to stop hurting me. And most women I know are fucked up and overly apologetic in basically the same way. I think we can agree that this is pretty far beyond “putting thought into someone’s needs.”

          • …And although I’m not saying it never happens ever, I’m having a really hard time picturing a man getting a rendingly painful massage from an oblivious loved one and being all “*Ow* – Sweetie, would you – *Ungh* – would you mind – *Owowow* – would you mind very much lightening up on the *Unnnngh* – on the pressure, please?”

            You just generally don’t get an air of tentativeness or apology from guys. Sometimes even in situations where they kind of should apologize.

      • uncommonmurre

        I got the impression that you started out from a position of rather assuming that he would drop other plans for sex. However, you saw it and recognized it as unreasonable, which is excellent and much better than the guys you’re describing.

        I tend to assume others are like myself, and in my dating experience I’ve found I put a lot more thought into other’s needs than most women. Perhaps most men don’t. I admit all of the women I’ve dated have emphasized how different I am from other men in that respect; they seem amazed by things I think are perfectly normal behavior. So maybe it’s more me than most guys. But still, I know other guys who are outstandingly kind and thoughtful.

        Hmm- those guys are usually long married. I wonder if the singles near our age aren’t as truly kind as the married ones by selection bias? Not “Nice Guys”, but people who are genuinely considerate of everyone around them, more often get attached and maintain it and are less often single. Given the cultural default monogamy and the distance a lot of people in couples will maintain from people of the opposite gender, that might explain why you run into less kind men and I run into less kind women.

        • I got the impression that you started out from a position of rather assuming that he would drop other plans for sex.

          Not assuming. Just hoping.

          But the two situations you’re trying to compare are nothing alike. I was talking about a total stranger assuming that I was put on this earth for him to fuck – if he judged that I met his qualifications – so he started “auditioning” me without my consent; the idea that I might not be interested in him – or maybe just the idea that my disinterest would mean he doesn’t in fact get to fuck me – did not occur to him. The net result was that I was happily bumbling along, living my life, and suddenly some guy is all “prove you’re good enough to fuck me!” and I thought “Wait…what? Why do I have to prove that I’m…WTF is going on here? How did this conversation get all weird and rapey?!?”

          The blog post you linked to was about an established sex partner possibly bailing on plans with me because he was feeling sick but not bailing on plans with other people, and I subsequently felt sad because I would like to have been his priority. AND, I didn’t tell him I was sad about his priorities, I just thought it and blogged it. What I actually said to him when he said he might have to cancel on me was “It’s cool. Try to get lots of sleep and eat your veggies!”

          How are my private thoughts about The Pedant erasing his sexual agency? How are my private thoughts upsetting him and making him feel objectified? How are my thoughts affecting anyone but me?

          Also: me being surprised by The Pedant’s priorities is not entitlement. It’s not the same headspace as FetLife Dude but with genders reversed. The inverse of the FetLIfe dude’s entitlement would be me thinking “I deserve to have my sexual needs satisfied at all times, whether my partner of choice wants to or not!” – whereas my thought process re: The Pedant wasn’t revolving around my needs or the assumption that I deserve anything. Rather, I was surprised that he might not be opting to get his sexual needs met because I thought dudes’ sexual needs were super powerful and important.

          I wasn’t thinking “GODDAMMIT YOU SAID YOU’D HAVE SEX WITH ME SO GET YOUR ASS OVER HERE YOU FUCKING TEASE,” I was thinking “If men will fuck anything with a pulse – and I’ve been told repeatedly that this is the case – and yet The Pedant would rather attend a political rally than fuck me…then maybe I’m really, really ugly and unappealing.” (Well, for about half a second I thought that. And then I caught myself.)

          But you see? I wasn’t being like FetLife dude, who seemed to be judging me from on high (“Are you someone I’d deign to fuck?”). I was momentarily judging myself and my worth as a human being by whether someone wanted to fuck me. In both cases, I felt lowered.

          My anger at the FetLife guy stems from stupid shitty rape culture making everything all about men and their sex drives. And that thing you mistook for my “entitlement” to sex is also coming from stupid shitty rape culture making everything all about men and their sex drives. I feel like you’re trying to say “You think men are so bad but look, women are bad, too!” but no – I think patriarchy and rape culture are bad, and you are in fact further proving that point.

  8. Nina

    You are so right – it matters lots whether you actually want to do something vs. it might be nice for the other person.

    Yay to having personal boundaries and keeping them!

  9. Pingback: I’m gonna do THIS now. | hiding in plain sight

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