So, I keep this song in regular rotation on my playlist, but when it came up on my way to work today, I suddenly had all the Madoka feels. I… I might need to make a vid, guys.
try to read this in anything other than JFK’s voice
I am nineteen years old, nearly twenty, and I have never been physically harassed.
I’ve been called attractive, gorgeous, all the accolades you could want - by friends, or by family. But beyond a few honks of an old truck horn, I am unacknowledged by men.
Some might say I’m lucky. I beg to…
Hi, there. I could tell you that I’m sure you’re beautiful, but as I haven’t seen you, you’d have no reason to believe me. So while I really wish I could tell you “no, you’re wrong,” I can’t. But I can tell you some things that might at least offer a different perspective.
When I was 19, I was also sure I couldn’t be attractive. So sure that it’s still there in the back of my mind, occasionally taking over nearly 10 years later. Despite all the things that indicate otherwise, part of me still “knows” that I’m not attractive. When I was 19, I felt invisible. Or only visible enough to be ridiculed.
But when I look back now (with some help from my husband, who was stubborn enough to keep trying despite being on the other side of this), I can see that I was really oblivious. I had so much trouble reading the subtle social cues, the flirting, the facial expressions, that to me they may as well have been not happening. More than that, though. I lacked the ability to make my own signals. Still do, though less so now. There was a ton of communication going on that I wasn’t part of. That I couldn’t be part of. People are often afraid of rejection. So when their nonverbal cues don’t work, they back off, to spare themselves the rejection. It wasn’t that they weren’t interested. It was that as far as THEY could tell, *I* wasn’t interested.
Cat calls and street harassment are an entirely different beast. Now, I’m assuming that on some level you already know this, but it’s worth pointing out again. Street harassment is about establishing superiority and forcing a reaction onto someone. It’s about making that person uncomfortable just because you can. Whether they’re shouting insults or sexual advances, that’s the end goal. As such, by far the most likely reason you wouldn’t be chosen as a target is that (for whatever reason) you don’t look like you would provide them with entertainment.
But it’s not that simple. It’s never that simple. That feeling you’re describing. That desire to have it happen to you. It’s normal. Fucked up as hell. But normal. There is so much messaging out there that tells you that your most important worth is in your appearance. That it may even be your only worth. And even though you can tell yourself it’s not true, and you know and believe that it’s not true, those messages still have an effect. Because when something is said often enough, people start to believe it, even when they know it’s wrong. And the harassment can look like validation of that worth. Especially when that harassment takes the form of things that, taken literally, are things you are “supposed to want”. Even more so when you’re the kind of person who is prone to taking what people say literally.
And since you’re curious, while I can’t speak for someone who is exclusively attracted to women, I can tell you that, for me, being bi doesn’t make this go away. The pressure to want male validation of my appearance is definitely still there. And no, it isn’t accompanied by a second need for validation of attractiveness from women. (It feels nice and fluttery when they do, certainly. And it’s something I want, but it’s not a need.) And holy shit does it drive me nuts knowing that part of me feels that need. Do not want.
It’s possible to get out of this bizarre cycle. It really is. The problem is that sometimes you’ll fall back in again. But it will always be possible to get back out. Because once you’ve been out, you know that there is an out to go to.
I’m curious, though. Do you think that someone with a body type like yours (or any other things you don’t like about your appearance) can be beautiful as long as that person isn’t you?
I guess what I’m trying to say is I get it. I’ve been there. I still end up there sometimes. And it will be okay. And I know you don’t think you can be beautiful, and I get what led you there. But I think it’s too narrow. There are possibilities you’re missing, and indicators you may be misinterpreting.
It’s a good thing I’m teleworking, as I’m having a sheet day today. Sherlock fans on the spectrum will know EXACTLY what this means, both the term and what motivates it.
What’s a sheet day? It’s when my skin’s sensitivity threshold ramps up exponentially, until I can feel EVERY LITTLE TOUCH. Literally everything that’s touching my skin, everywhere, every square inch, I can feel it. I can feel the texture, over every square inch, rough or smooth. Then my skin starts to itch or burn, trying to get this stuff off. It’s enough to drive a person crazy, being so hyperaware of the feeling of one’s clothes and unable to tune the sensations out. It’s days like this that make me want to strip off everything and wear a soft, comfy sheet (to keep the breezes and chill off, because those drive me crazy too, on days like today.)
I have several dresses for sheet days; they’re all of a similar style and fabric that makes them the least objectionable to wear. I’m wearing the newest of them now and it’s doing the job beautifully and with style. It’s even swishy. I’m teleworking today, but if I had to be in the office, I could add a loose cardigan and a pair of sandals and I would be acceptably dressed and though I would still be dealing with the total sensory load, it would be relatively tolerable because of my fabrics.
I feel bad for men and boys on the spectrum, who don’t have a socially acceptable garment to wear when they’re having a sheet day. They might be able to wear a soft, loose kaftan at home, but in public, at school or at work, they really don’t have any socially acceptable options. Even a flannel shirt or a hoodie can be a lot to process, but they’re socially alright for youth to wear. But a business man in an office suffers. My heart goes out to those guys.
I hate these days so much. I can’t even really wear skirts for it, because I tend to sit with my knees up against my chest. And even the skirts can be pretty bad. With the edges of the fabric and the subtle touching. Not as bad as my hair touching me (kind of makes me want to rip it out…). But bad. I do have some very soft knit fabric pants and shirts I can wear that help some while I’m at work. (And no bra. None of that. No.) But when I get home, it’s absolutely Sherlock at Buckingham Palace time.
Heh. My followers probably think I’m nuts now.
What goes on in your head, color, perception, experience
This video is interesting, but would be more interesting if it covered the concept beyond what I came up with when I was 12.
For a lot of people, their neutral mood face is a smile, or at the very least, nonthreatening. For a lot of INTJs, it’s the Death Glare (this affectionate name is courtesy of a old INTP friend of mine, who brought mine to my attention many years ago). Instead of exerting the effort to smile or…
I’m INTP, not INTJ, myself, but I definitely do this as well. >.>