I grew up as a pretty girly guy. Ever since a young age, I liked pink and floral colors and designs, gravitated toward female television and video game characters, and hung out almost all the time with girls. I derived a lot of benefits from this association with the feminine: empathy, communication skills, valuing softness over brute force. At the same time, I also encountered the message that I should want boys to like me, or that desire always flowed in one direction: other boys did the desiring, whereas I desired the desire of other boys.
Until I grew into my own social justice awakening and until I met my bff Bri in undergrad, my female friends and I would often interpret a guy’s rejection as a fault of our own. If a guy did not exhibit interest in us, we took it as a sign that we did something wrong. Maybe we cared too much. Maybe we should weigh less. Maybe we expected too much communication. Some of my friends and I analyzed the motives of men with the ferocity of rabid chihuahuas, bloodthirsty for emotional intimacy and care. We gossiped about whether their past relationships and traumas inhibited their capacity to connect. We strategized on ways to conduct ourselves to maximize their comfort and openness.
Things more iconic than spending time on emotionally under-developed men #313: eating iconic Asian food while reading in San Diego during a conference! This took place in October, at the restaurant Underbelly. The pork belly bao buns were iconic.
Imagine my surprise when a cisgender, heterosexual white male acquaintance of mine in undergrad did the exact opposite. Continue reading
In an interview about his song “Just The Way You Are,” Bruno Mars assumes that all women crave compliments about their beauty. Even though he states in another interview that he “wasn’t thinking of anything deep or poetic” when writing his lyrics, I have not written about pop music in forever, so I will dedicate this post to deconstructing my dislike for “Just The Way You Are,” because the song makes female worth synonymous with physical appearance, and it implies that women should find self-acceptance through men, instead of themselves. Continue reading
My mother has always spewed venom at me. Barbed words that wither my soul, sharp insults that dampen my spirit, and putdowns that have perforated my self-esteem. Of course she has supplied me with many opportunities which I am grateful for, but overall, I cannot say that she has served as a shining example of the type of person, or parent, I strive to be.
She and I have a toxic relationship. When we’re together, the air is thick with tension, as I wait for her to send some stinging comment my way. I’m always on edge, my mind a mix of worry and fear and panic. I don’t dare speak, as anything I say could be used against me. I manipulate my posture perfectly so she doesn’t accuse me of standing up too straight or slouching. I think of the future, of what life will be like when I am free from the confines of this curse. Continue reading