the #yesallwomen tag and general stuff
Someone said that it was good to hear that I wasn't like that, but it's hardly a ringing endorsement. I was more talking about my own self-hatred and how I remember doing shitty and stupid things that how little I feel that I have to offer in a relationship. It's a constant white noise of incrimination that mixes me up and keeps telling me that I deserve to be alone for the rest of my life. I meant to say that reading those guys makes me think of how I am not that bad; not that I'm some paradigm of decency and honesty. Or whatever.
The #yesallwomen tag is important because it helps to focus on the kinds of entitlement that comes with the cultural standards where sexual harassment are cool. I am both and individual and a product of my culture. Even though a cultural trope like the romantic comedy in general or Revenge of the Nerds in particular is partially to blame and even though getting raised by a single mother who never got her bipolar condition treated normalized a lot of shitty behavior for me (and also meant that I was automatically attracted to drama and not interested in asking out my sweet and supportive female friends - the ones that I could have had decent relationships with - because their mental health and rationality made them seem boring), I have acted in ways that support rape culture, minimized stalking and carried an attitude of entitlement.
More than once I have been "just friends" with a woman who was "out of my league" in hopes that she would come around. I did not bitch about being in the "friendzone" but I might as well have. I would eventually take it too far with gifts and long rambling emails. I would call many times when she didn't seem to be there and I would "just show up" where she was on campus. I didn't tell myself that I was "wearing her down" but my lies to self were more insidious - mainly that I actually wanted to be her friend and only her friend when really I wanted the relationship that she had rejected.
I have acted like a stalker. I did fuck off when told in no uncertain terms to fuck off - maybe leaving an answering machine message a few months later - but that kind of behavior is unacceptable and it wasn't until I met a real stalker that I saw just how dangerous it was to minimize that kind of behavior.
I would be at clubs during the great "booty dance" craze. I would see other guys dry humping women and I would wonder if I should do the same. I think I even did once or twice. The worst part is watching this and thinking "so is that cool here? Am I missing out if I don't do what that douchebag is doing? Seems like the woman that he's dry humping is into it - or at least not moving away..."
A major reason why I paused to reflect on this behavior (beyond trying to be shomer negia for a few years because Judaism) was because I met one of my friends at CONvergence when she was 16 and my most pressing thought was "damn, I hope that she had a good con free from harassment" - or something along those lines. Knowing that if I was still in my 20s the thought would have been "damn, I wish I could hit on her" only made that weird paternalistic attitude stronger. And it should not be like that. I shouldn't be thinking that women should be able to have good times at conventions free from creepy dudes licking them or groping them from behind because I feel protective of one 16-year old girl that I just met (she's in her 20s now and I rather hope that she doesn't read this and realize that I am talking about her) but because that should be the baseline for convention going experience. That whole "he was a total asshole but then he had a daughter and decided to be Mr. White Knight" trope is ridiculous and even a variation of "I felt protective of a teenage girl" is pretty fucking horrible.
I have confused "bad at flirting" with sexual harassment. Not in the case of Rene Walling but before that.
I have asked women out, gotten rejected and then cursed them out for the rejection.
I suppose I could say that I'm not like that anymore, but what the hell do I know? As recently as five years ago I was trying to be "just friends" with a woman who was alternately friendly and rejecting and while she was confusing (it was not like the Onion article Woman Confusingly Tells Area Man She's Not Interested in Him - although I have been that clueless) it was very obvious that she wasn't interested in me that way. I also think that it played into my self-loathing since it was easier to have a miserable non-relationship with a woman who wasn't interested than actually step foot into the confusing world of dating.
I make efforts not to be that person anymore. I know there are worse men out there. I know that not all men do these things, but I also know that I was encouraged by the general culture to behave in this manner. Doesn't make me innocent - far from it - but it does make me cognizant of a wealth of misogyny in society that has affected me and that I have perpetrated.