Friday, July 22, 2005

The Internet Stirs Up Way Too Much Introspection

Based on the 197 bajillion comments in reaction to Bitch, Ph.D.'s post on nice guys and bitchy women, I'm not the only person who is fascinated with this sort of discussion. Unlike some people who respond to one of these threads with, "Yes, yes, that's me/my life exactly!", the main points rarely speak to me; instead I get sucked in by some sort of side detail.*

I'm grudgingly forced to admit that the opinions and attitudes of the commenters (not just on this particular thread but also on other, similar ones) back up the theory that it is worth my while to try to pass as femme. I'm not entirely delighted by being right on this count. It still feels very much like dressing up and play-acting and a bit fraudulent. I haven't completely gone over to the dark side, as being femmey in the summer is too much sacrifice for too little payoff; I'll continue to look dorky for another month or so, but then I'll go back undercover when the school year begins.

And these discussions always stir up a little bit of guilt and regret about how I've treated some of the guys who I haven't dated. Near the height of my popularity, I was working at a secure facility, and one of the security guards asked me out, and I was just horrible to him entirely not on purpose but just because I have neither common sense nor skill at dealing with people. He was completely above board and non-creepy with this all -- I had gone out one evening and ran into him, we started talking, he said I looked familiar and then realized that we worked at the same place, etc. He was totally nice, we talked about his time in the military and how he was going back to school on the GI Bill. Unlike one might expect, he wasn't dismissive of math -- he was taking a math class at community college, he liked his class, etc. (And he NEVER asked me for help with his homework.) He asked for my phone number, and I gave it to him. At work he was entirely professional; when I checked in and out of the building, he was friendly and polite but not overly attentive. In summary, he did nothing wrong. And I was totally horrible to him about not returning his calls and about giving off all sort of ridiculous mixed signals. I don't know what the hell my problem was other than being poorly socialized and socially clueless, but that really isn't an excuse, and I should have dealt with things better.

One commenter gave a link to something called "the ladder theory," which was so mean that it made me cry about issues that I thought I had sorted out almost FIFTEEN YEARS AGO. (And that is why I am not linking to it.) Back when I was in high school, I thought that guys operated pretty much like how the ladder theory describes. Also, back then I wasn't especially popular. While I am the first to admit that I was not especially "hot" in high school, I'm still a little bit defensive when I come across an internet theory-of-everything that glibly categorizes me-of-the-past as completely and pathologically unfuckably worthless. What's so stupid is that I can get sucked into its theory about how men operate while knowing full well that its theory of how women operate is flawed.**

And, finally, I am wondering to what extent one's real life popularity correlates to the popularity of one's blog. As Bitch, Ph.D. does seem to be quite the catch, and you can imagine how many readers she'd need in order to support a comment thread with 197 bajillion comments.


*Speaking of side details, my primary quibble with the original post is the line: "I'm going to ignore the 'women who like to be abused' bullshit." The use of the word "bullshit" further marginalizes the position of women who continually seek (if not consciously) abusive relationships. I have more to say about this issue, but not in front of the whole internet.

**I am a clear exception to the idea of women prefering guys with money: I tended to date guys with less money than me (which was not hard when I was in grad school!) and then used my money as a secret-weapon powerplay. One guy didn't know that I was rich when he started dating me; I paid off his car loan and then lent (gave) him money to start a retirement account (everyone needs a Roth IRA).