Sunday, 18 January 2009

Feminist hat, engage.

Now, I look a heck of a lot like my dad. This pleases me, because he was my role model when I was younger (he can't be now, as it's plainer every day that I have inherited none of his skills and talents!).

But the point is, I don't have delicate, feminine features. I have an androgynous body shape. I wear, surprisingly, men's clothing. There is nothing, nothing whatsoever about me that suggests, to someone raised on stereotypes, that I'm into men in any way - unless, of course, they're thinking of me as a man, in which case I might as well have HOMO tattooed on my forehead.

But I still, still, get unpleasant attention from straight cis men. I don't mean attention from unpleasant men, either violence/aggression or suggestive remarks calculated to make me uncomfortable (though, obviously, I've always been different and have always got that). I mean completely inappropriate remarks from men who might be OK as people, or men who I even know are quite nice. Men who are neurotypical and should know better, who have still completely swallowed the dominant meme of THE MOST IMPORTANT THING ABOUT YOU IS WHAT YOUR VAGINA AND MY PENIS CAN DO TOGETHER KTHX.

I can't fucking win, as I'm certain that a few of those men have thought, aha, a "woman" who is really weird - "she" must be kinky/a slut/not mind me being rude by some reasoning process that I have not yet perfected or, actually, begun.

(Of course there's nothing wrong with being kinky, a slut or both. Both are often fabulous. I'm merely replicating the "reasoning" process).

So... I absolutely can't imagine what female-assigned individuals who are conventionally pretty, or even beautiful, or simply have large breasts etc. go through every day. In fact, I've seen them deal with it, not committing multiple murder on an hourly basis through acts of sheer willpower and/or resignation.

During my brief femme phase as a teenager (I felt uncomfortable during every second of it, but I felt the social pressure. I thought for a while I'd have to keep it up to keep Hagrid, ha, ludicrous notion in the light of his homosexualist tendencies eh?) some adult male acquaintances were particularly bad. I'd WALK INTO A ROOM that contained them and, say, my parents - I wouldn't have a chance to say or do anything - and there would be a remark about my looks. They really, seriously thought it was "complimentary".

And even lately, some (straight and cis) men have managed to instantly lose all my respect, going from my default of 100% respect to about minus 10%, by a similar immediate "compliment" - even interrupting what I am saying to ensure the "compliment" is immediate.

It's really not so bad for me, as I can say I'M A GUY HAHAHA YOU MUST BE A GAY LOL! and mysteriously watch the "complimentary" tally drop... but for beautiful femmes (of all orientations, obviously) what the hell must it be like?

I guess it's a feminist point, really - even if the sense of entitlement of the men around a woman isn't completely and totally obvious to anyone, in a "yes, rape, fine," way... It can still be very, very destructive to her sense of self-worth.

Hooray, Oliver states the obvious!

Now, my particular problem... because I have the stereotypical autistic grasp of social skills, my current thought often leaves my mouth without my brain interfering. If I think that a woman is attractive, I really DON'T care to act in that creepy fashion, because, logically, she has to deal with more creepy than she'd like, all the time.

I'm sure I often don't get it right, and I'm very, very sorry.

But if I remember to go through that logical process, I decide that the advisable option is that of complete silence until an unrelated thought enters my head.

Y'know, normal men should try that option sometimes.*

*I realise that the rule means I can't make any attempt at flirtation, but I'm REALLY REALLY sure the women of the world can live without me, my poor interpersonal skills and my uninspiring looks (they suit my dad better).


Battybattybats said...

Hmmm... compliments are often hit-and-miss things.

It always involves an estimate or educated guess as to how the compliment will be received.

Sometimes any comliment from a particular person will be unpleasant because of who is doing the complimenting.

Sometimes it's a matter of the nature of the compliment where the complimentor may compliment the target on something they see as a flaw rather than a positive and resulting in their feelling negative.

Or just the wrong compliment from the wrong person, getting a compliment on attractiveness from someone who the target would rather have compliment their intellect or work is bad, getting the compliment just on the latter when the target is really desiring one on their attractiveness is also bad.

And then a compliment may be poorly communicated and easilly missunderstood too.

Or the reception may depend entirely on the mood the person is already in at the time.

But then sometimes a compliment contrary to the targets views can be positive too, someone suddenly told a trait they'd been hating about themselves is attractive can sometimes result in them feelling better about themselves.

A compliment on appearance from someone the target is not interesting may nevertheless raise their feellings of their own attractiveness to others.

It's always a gamble giving compliments and gauging how to maximise the chance of it being received the way it is intended as well as being positively taken.

Generally I quite like being complimented. On my intelligence, abilities, difference and on my looks too. By people I'm interested in and by those I'm not. Sure sometimes people are creepy but usually if I'm not interested in the person I thank them for the compliment and then swiftly change the subject.

Receiving a compliment though can really brighten my day, uplift my mood and raise my self-esteem.

This week I've had quite a few on a host of aspects of myself. From people of a wide variety of ages, both males and females and various subcultures. On my looks (both presenting as male and presenting as female, mainly from people not sexually or romanticly interested in me to my knowledge though at least two were from people so interested) which i found outright wonderful, on my style, on my courage, my intelligence, for being weird (I like that word and took it as it was intended, a positive compliment), on my personality and my values.

I enjoyed all those compliments, but I thoroughly understand that not everyone enjoys them.

A couple months ago (at one of several art exhibitions I attended presenting in Goth adrogynous-ish male style) I got one set of compliments from an elderly woman I'd not met. She touched my hands and nails when complimenting them which is something i'd normally find very uncomfortable. Then after receiving a number of compliments on my look, make-up etc and, saying goodbye with a smile, starting to turn away she touched my hair too and complimented it as well.

Now normally I'd be well creeped out by such forward touching without invitation or being friends long enough to feel relaxed around the person or without being attracted to the person and some preliminary flirtation having occured, but in this case it was not so confronting. Which was I think a combination of her being elderly, her warm smile and facial expresion that put me at ease.

So it's really difficult to have distinct rules on the matter when even i was surprised at the exception of my feellings in this occassion.

Sarah said...

^_^ I always feel bizarre about compliments about how I look... but, most of that is just low self-esteem, blah blah.

Good times?

Kim said...

I only get compliments from friends, never from people I know, but then that may be because I tend to scare people with out knowing I'm doing it.

so yeah the only thing I ever get attention paid to is my boobs and that is by drunk men who then get REALLY offended when tell them 'no you can't feel them'

so yeah some people suck ignore them