Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Love, from a great but safe distance

I thought of ten things or more to write about yesterday while on my late afternoon bike ride. Now, there is nothing and then nothing and nothing - nada y pues nada y nada

I fell asleep around 7pm, woke at midnight, wrestled with wakefulness for a bit in the dark, am now sitting at my kitchen table. I've been casually shopping online for a new kitchen table, though I question the sense in buying one. As soon as I do then I'm sure to get a girlfriend, one who will convince me to get rid of it. It is all part of the beautiful circle of love. Perhaps it is best to keep wasting my money as a way of enticing a new girlfriend to step in and stop the runaway waste, to give it a renewed sense of focus. The direction of romance can be marked by the sudden diverting of dollars spent. I imagine that Visa has a much better grasp of my romantic situation than I do. They should offer a service based on the metadata of spending behavior. A man shopping for a new kitchen table by himself in the dark. What a silly, futile thing to do. 

I wrote a post that I had not meant to publish, then accidentally did, unpublished it quickly, then sent an apology email to the email recipients (a handful of readers get only first drafts here...). It contained some lines that were meant to be removed, though the post was also never meant to be published. In doing this, I realized that for too long my feelings about feminism have been tied up in response to a handful of self-described feminists, most of whom lack the courage of their stated convictions but instead utilize the wide claim of historical victimhood only to terrorize others. 

Is he a man? Then he must be sexist.
Is he white? Oh, then he's a racist also... 
We had better let him know.

Well, perhaps that is a slight exaggeration, but only slight. It is a popular form - feminism without courage, the un-refuted slogan of the times. Some men will gladly accept and praise this form of feminism, because it leaves the woman in the role of either the victim that needs to be saved or one whose actions are pre-justified and deserving of celebration. Meanness towards men is then confused with ideas of the internal strength of womanhood, and then roundly praised as a commensurate response. 

Sometimes you just luck out and you get both versions in the same person - a mean woman that demands to be saved by love. The most recent lesson that I have learned, the hard way: be wary of those who do not protect you, you may be left incapable of protecting yourself. 

It is a long story, one perhaps never worth going into. The lesson astonishes me, that I am now learning it in middle life. The value of the exercise is meant to go both ways. I failed at protecting, also. Once you see your relationship devolve into mutual accusation, mutual acrimony follows shortly thereafter. Few loves recover, there is only a graceless escape to hope for. 

If it happens in your next relationship, then look for a common denominator. It might be you. 

I noticed something with one of the last girlfriends that I had - I had become defensive. Many might claim that particular girlfriend was not right for me, but even if that were the case, I recognized my emotional overreactions. Yellow flags were flipping up left and right, some that became red flags, so I acted accordingly. I walked away, telling myself that I just wasn't ready yet. This was in part true, but not a truth worth clinging to and demanding as exclusive. 

There were other truths, of course. I couldn't separate feelings about women in general from feelings concerning this woman's personality and behavior. I had fallen too deep into the trap of categorical thought. I found myself saying things like, My ex used to do that.... Why do women act that way... Women do this... Women do that.... I had internalized some cheap bullshit slogans that belied and ignored something else important. 

Once embraced, that way of thinking doesn't take very long before you can find behavior in women to regard with suspicion, even as the deportment is charmingly wicked. Part of the allure of women seems wrapped up in this painful mystery. Some seek to dispel it as a subject of inquiry, though not to dismantle it. One can not demand equality while clinging to unequal advantage, not in love anyway. Perhaps there really is no such thing as equality in love, any attempt at asserting it or citing its absence from either side is sure to doom the affair. The sudden application of self-respect is correctly seen as an affront. Once the accusation of inequality has been lofted within a romance there remains only evidence and counter evidence to tussle with. Love shifts from looking at things together to looking at togetherness as a thing. 

I tried to ignore these observations but the behavior kept returning, so much so that I started to blame myself for even noticing it. Though, there was a persistent sentence that kept occurring to me: Would it be okay for me to say the same thing to her? The answer was almost always a No. 

How could this be, and what can be done? I have instituted a personal guide: avoid people who are incapable of accepting apologies, they are usually inexperienced at providing them in any meaningful way. Victims almost always fail at moral self-evaluation. I write this with no individual in mind. I see it nearly everywhere I look. Check the self-righteousness of Facebook every now and then, if you want a taste of this type of sloganeering - the exalting one's self-held values without evidence, with strict unquestioned pretense. The resounding jingoism of liberalism. 

You can't even agree enough with the self-righteous there, because your agreement will eventually show signs of its own unworthiness. It doesn't take very long, just try it.  It is enervating to try to match another's public indignations. It's best just to "Like" them without comment. It's the genius of agreement without the complication of discourse.  No word, just a little blue thumb pointing upwards, holding up the great dam in the sky. It is precisely what a slogan deserves, ironic in its utter meaninglessness, perfect as an unchallenged response in the form of agreement. It's a way of saying, I applaud the surface of your intended meaning in the smallest way possible. 

Women have cried double-standard! for so long and so loudly that one can only take them seriously, and at their word. There is much truth to be found in the claim, no question about it. There are glaring and hideous double-standards, many that we all accept and many of which subject women to unfair treatment as accepted practice. Yet, they have become so comfortable in making the claim that they have lost the ability to recognize any violation of it that is not directed at them. In that way, it has become a single-standard through its own duplicity.

I dare you - accuse anyone of maintaining double-standards. I dare you. 

It's easy to treat people equal to their treatment of you. The results are disastrous, though. To mock someone's values by openly emulating them is as simple as pie, and sometimes just as delicious and fattening. My boy does it without even knowing what he's doing. He is a genuine eye opener in this regard. Everybody can improve, and no one can claim to be above innocent imitation. 

Part of the pleasure of falling in love, for me, has been the private mutual acceptance of gender and relationship roles within the context of love. I think that most men like to be men and most women like to be women, and yet these definitions hardly result in what could be considered equality. They both require some validation of one another's imagination, the affirmation and acceptance of our silly attitudes and beliefs as they shift around us. 

Without that, then what? More cross-examination of how things are, and how things should be.

Living with a feminist must be as tiring as living with a sexist. Everything becomes an analysis or abstraction, a cursed valuation of the dynamic of another's love, of who they really are as a person, a dissecting of the very thing that is meant to be preserved. Too much thought leaves everything smelling of formaldehyde. Sex is dependent upon the mutual suspending of belief. The mutual return is what signifies and creates trust. "Getting there" is easy, and two fools can find a way.

You can always cite non-conformity in gender roles later as needed, like when arguing about something, or when all of your friends are looking. Some unmet and never agreed upon expectation will sneak up out of the rhetoric of love to bite each lover awkwardly, at different and unexpected times. The feeling of love is a fantastic 90-day convenience. 

People tend to get the love that they deserve. I did, and it still stings a bit. 

I have grown tired of bargaining for it, though. It doesn't work that well. Alliances are easily formed, tough to maintain. Treaties are replaced by newer treaties, each an imagined improvement upon the last. 

I just wish some anonymous woman would reach out to me now and let me know that my new dining room table will one day soon need to go.