Sometimes the evidence of my faults, just exists; and it’s pretty hard, incontrovertible evidence. Say, tonight, when I went through an embarrassingly high number of mostly-unread library books, and selected half to return. My home should not be off-site storage.
Of course, the faults are what I need to be working on, so it makes sense that they would rise to the surface and stay there. Then there is the issue of obsessively focusing upon them, or letting them define me. In addition, there’s the problem of feeling so fully in the moment, by, for example, breaking into tears (something I’ve taught myself to do in order to acknowledge and release, rather than ignore and repress, negative emotions), that others misunderstand what they see.
Then, there are other coping mechanisms. I realized last night, as I was writing offline, that I might have slipped into my jerk mode. The one in which I start throwing out turns of phrase unsuitable for the clean, simple Web.
I can get pretty creative with those.
But then, I also know that when I get triggered — especially if I think someone has treated me poorly in part because of personal factors I can’t help or refuse to change (like, say, my sex) — I go into jerk mode. My actual experience is somewhere beyond, “jerk,” but I can’t post that word on this blog.
Of course, I’m pretty sensitive about the gender thing, especially given that, because of my sex, barely anyone recognizes that I’m not a woman. And then it’s fairly common for that to be downgraded to, “girl,” as in, “stupid, incompetent, weak girl that I can push around with impunity.” Which is…all the more frustrating in that I don’t even identify as a woman; and definitely not as a “girl.” Even when I was a teen, I took offense to that word. Especially when the same boys who called me such, same age: were calling themselves, “men.”
There’s a lot of history, here. And I need to learn how to deal with it without resorting to violent fantasies. Things of that nature, if fulfilled, don’t fly in the adult world. I’m hoping that, “thought crimes,” also don’t yet exist. I already know, from my youth, that violence doesn’t make me feel better. Anything that would happen would be the pent-up result of the last 30 years of being on the receiving end of sexism. No one really deserves that, and it wouldn’t help.
There is also the possibility of testosterone. But I don’t have an issue with my body (that I can fix, at least). I have an issue with sexists. It just so happens that most of them are male and significantly older than me — though I’ve also run across junior versions. My accumulation of rage also causes me not to want in any way to be like those people. And that reminds me of a friend I had a while back, who began to hate his image because when he took testosterone, he began to look like his (abusive) father.
Thus…yes, it is possible to have a bias against men. I’ve realized it isn’t all men. Or all males. But the ones who selectively try to psychologically injure me, are the most…stereotypical types of men. The ones who think that overstepping their bounds and underestimating and harming and insulting others — especially those they see as women and girls — makes them manly, and that this makes them better than me. Because they have no information about me other than my appearance, they fill in what they don’t know. They assume safety. They assume they are untouchable. They assume they know who and what I am, and how I will react, from what I look like.
And that puts them dead center in a situation that they don’t realize they’re in. One in which they’re dealing with someone who has been underestimated, misjudged, and mistaken for someone else, the majority of their life. And here they are, doing it again. Or here I am, assuming they intend the pain they inflict.
This impression doesn’t come across frequently over the long term, but it comes across frequently enough (especially in a job stereotypically associated with women) that I need to find a way to deal with it. Or I need to find a way to escape it.
My boss and I talked about this, recently. That I need to grow a, “thick skin,” if I want to stay in this field. Showing emotion, feeling emotion, that doesn’t make me weak. It means that, for my sake and the sake of the person who has upset me, and possibly for the sake of the wider community and my family, I’m avoiding the consequences of shoving those emotions down.
The alternative I know is being hot-headed, which — regardless of the fact that I know I’m vulnerable to it — isn’t productive. It’s much more my own loss if I give in and do something I shouldn’t.
I don’t want to be tempted to do that.
And so, I write.