I’ve been thinking about the social structures set up around men “getting” women. The language itself is pretty horrible: women are shiny objects to be won, and it is up to men to be the active party.
Heteronormativity isn’t just about the presumption that everyone is heterosexual. The expectation that boys woo girls feeds into your mind the expectation that relationships are necessary for fulfilment, and you are less than if you are not having particular kinds of sex with a particular, and a particular kind of, person at particular intervals. It’s about what Lauren Berlant calls the love plot, in which love is produced as a generic text enabling society to interpret your life as following certain conventions. It’s not about what you want, it’s about what you’re supposed to want. You’re not encouraged to think about what you want in relationships, if anything, so much as you are encouraged to fit a script. Heteronormativity messes things up for everyone, straight people included.
It’s awful to be seen as a thing to be won rather than a person. It’s patently obvious when a guy’s hitting on me (what a phrase) because he thinks he can get me, or because I am a Nice Ethnic Girl he thinks his parents will like, or because he thinks I will fit the script in some way. Because he is obviously following on with the script rather than engaging with me. My desires are irrelevant. When a guy’s really interested in me as a person? When he is not relying on what he’s been told about what “you should say to women,” but about the dynamic of me and here and now? There’s a world of difference. We’re talking about heteronormativity, so I’ll just make a brief note about women hitting on me – less normative, less of a script, no skeevy gendered dynamics: it’s a lot more comfortable. And, well, I talk about comfort and a world of difference – there’s no difference in outcome in terms of what the person pursuing me wants, because I am happily and monogamously partnered already. The difference for me is how good I feel about myself in the wake of the interaction, whether I feel like someone’s just tried to use me or someone’s just tried to build me up.
I wonder how it feels to feel like you have to use tricks or bargain to get a date, or sex, or love, rather than having faith in your desirability. It’s not nearly as bad as seeing other people as objects, but to think you yourself are not worthy, and you have to resort to anxious rumour and trickery? That’s bad. That is not a way to live. It feels as though there should be a chunk of paragraph on this, but the only thing I can add is that you deserve love from yourself.
Toss the script.