I’m upset at culture.
Let me rephrase that. I am *furious* at culture. I am pissed off that I can’t go play, that it has so much to do with gender roles, and so little to do with the actual people involved.
First, let me set the stage: most of my interactions are within geek subculture. There are certainly some appalling gender ratios in most geek space, with “Sausage Fest” being a common term. That’s fine. I get along better with people who have been socialized to be outspoken, physical, and crass – ie, more masculine than feminine types. And I’ve talked before about constructing Safe Space. And long ago (so long ago it was on LiveJournal) about being a being in a woman’s body who also happens to be precocious, comfortable in sexuality, and tactile – and the assumptions that go along with that (that assumption being that I Want To Bone You — I don’t). But it’s come up again – the falsely inverse-d relationship between sexuality and respect. Something I said in a recent interview (published soonish, methinks):
I think it’s totally appropriate to find intelligent people attractive, and that the best potential dates ARE your equals. The issue is that there’s this separation of sexualization and respect. They should be completely independent OR have positive correlation, but instead they seem to have a negative correlation in our culture. IE, if someone finds me hot, they are also likely to care less about listening to my ideas. For me, it boils down to consent. If I consent to being hit on by someone I am also attracted to, that’s awesome. If someone continues to hit on my after I have made it clear I’m not interested (either in them, in dating within that social group, or in dating in general), then it’s *not* cool.
What brings this up is being a “free agent” in my social groups has meant that some people have turned their focus on me. And while I’m flattered by the attention, it kind of sucks socially. The attracted people who don’t know me well either discount my ideas in lieu of trying to get into pants, or the idealization of physicality trumps the interest in ideas. Those who know me AND like those ideas tend to play a game, knowingly or not, about declaring intellectual territory via sexual or romantic advances on me. And those who actually like me and my ideas and who don’t play those games I STILL can’t associate with because the social response has to do with the first two sets of people (see me with partner, either discount any brainmeats I have or assume I’m at play in a game).
Respect for people while sexualizing them is only difficult because our culture makes it so. Beauty vs Brains is, clearly, a false dichotomy. But it’s one we still have to deal with while we murderize it. And I have no idea how to live my life in a way that tears down those stigmas while not being (non-consensually) objectified.
Monkeys piss me off. Maybe I shouldn’t listen to Sex At Dawn as I do my dishes and walk around Seattle. Gah!
What I can do right now is work on having more women in geek space. I feel like brute-forcing the problem, to say it in a very awful way. Care to join me?
You already know pretty much where I stand on this, but I’ll express both my commiseration and my… hrm — comradeship in the fight, if it has to be one.
I find your rant very appropriate. It also highlights part of my approach to the world that I find isn’t shared by many men. Why is it that, when they do find a talented, intelligent woman (even free agent like you speak of) attractive, as soon as that switch get’s pulled, the other one is shut off.
They stop thinking about her brains, her talent, and focus on getting a hold of her ass.
I *hate* that.
I really do.
I hate it because it muddies the waters. It makes it more difficult to express appreciation for a smart/talented women’s beauty, even honest desire, without being suspect.
“No, I’m not being nice to you because I want to get into your pants. I’m being nice to you and complimenting you on your talent because I respect you for your talent? Do I find you incredibly attractive? Would I consider sleeping with you? Sure. However, that is not what my interest, my friendship and my respect is about. Appreciating you as a talent, as an intellect, as an intellectual peer, nay, superior in some ways is completely different than appreciating you as a beautiful desirable person.”
Yes, I’ve had to say that.
No, it hasn’t gotten me laid. 🙂
I’m afraid I don’t comprehend this line: “Those who know me AND like those ideas tend to play a game, knowingly or not, about declaring intellectual territory via sexual or romantic advances on me.” Could you expand on what you mean there? I’d like to understand, and to make sure I’m not doing it, and to teach my daughters to watch out for it.
+1 to Donn’s comment. This happens to me frequently. I get in the most trouble when I call someone “cute.” No, I don’t mean you have a nice ass (daaaamn giiiirl), I usually mean you posses a skill-set, confidence or intellectual prowess I wouldn’t mind spending more time around.
Have you heard of http://www.geekgirlcon.com/ ? I think they are brute-forcing it in an as-elegant-as-possible way.
@Sean – it’s the equivalent of being intellectual arm-candy or a Status Fuck.
“I’m *so* involved with x community that I’ve boned y person.” This shows that 1) you have the connections to access that person, 2) you have the status/social wiles to have gained their attention, and 3) I now have higher social standing than most in x community because of these things. This already exists for “groupies,” right? Men have dealt with this for awhile. But for a woman to be the Status Fuck, it means that we also have to deal with the social repercussions of people boasting about those interactions and losing credibility because we care to have sex.
Make more sense?
@Curio – why do you equate “cute” with “competent” when you are aware of the cultural climate around them? Not being antagonistic, actually quite interested in your answer.
Had heard of them but forgot to follow up. Thank you!
Ah, I get it – they aren’t playing a game because they’re interested but defensive-cuz-you’re-awesome, or interested and trying-to-impress-you-with-intellectual-wankery – they’re playing a game where *you* are the chit used to impress others. And possibly themselves. I don’t *think* I’ve played that, some of which should be attributed to wisdom and some to cowardice.
My gut response is to say “well you should have sex with who you want and let everyone who judges you for it go hang” – but I suspect that’s coming from a pretty privileged gut.
My other gut response is to say you should require every potential sexual partner sign a confidentiality agreement. In fact, I’ll give you a dollar if you do that.