guest post

Guest Post: Messages to Ace Exclusionists – Anonymous Submission to the September 2017 Carnival of Aces

[I received the following submission via email]

Exclusionists, I promise you I’m not under the impression that I can tell you anything. (At least not so long as it isn’t that I, as an ace, support your exclusionism, which I am not saying, because I’m not one of the “good ones”, as it were.) But there are some things I wish you would consider, on your own, if you have the time, and with no accountability implied.

(And by “you” below, I don’t necessarily mean “you” individually? I know no one person does all of it.)

•Exclusionists seem to get angry at every manifestation of ace identity or community. You get angry at the flag and its colors. You get angry at rings. You get angry at the goofy puns, get angry when we talk seriously about trauma. You get angry at our online spaces, get angry when we show up in public. You get angry at asexuality in fandom and angry at it in canon media and angry when it’s acknowledged by non-fictional people where anyone can see or hear it. 

I’m not saying your anger isn’t a real feeling or that you’re somehow feeling it on purpose, but emotions are inflamed to the point where you take any and all evidence of our existence, unless it’s an explicit statement that we understand why you don’t want us around, and no matter if it’s in no way directed at you, as a punishable offense or disrespect or a threat. (Because why don’t we FUCKING STAY DOWN?) “I am” has become an offensive statement. And I wish that worried you.

•Despite all of this anger despising us has a recreational element. Social circles are built around it. It’s something you opt to discuss and make graphics and jokes about in your free time. It’s fun. And I wish that worried you.

•It’s true that the community needs a lot of help in a world that’s hostile in a thousand ways from a thousand directions. There are a multitude of ways to offer that help, too. Faced with all the wide array of community needs (and of course I’m not scolding anybody for not building a second Lambda Legal on tumblr after they finish their AP Chem homework – that’s ridiculous – and of course I’m not blaming anyone for limiting their activity to online spheres when their irl environment isn’t safe – that’s evil) you looked at the roles you could fill and decided to be the patrolmen in mirror shades asking everyone for their identification.. And I wish that worried you.

•You and yours lift and repurpose hateful arguments from all over the place that have been used against every other community group, including gays and lesbians, despite the fact that those arguments bring underlying assumptions with them:

  • “You’re endangering children!”
  • “Accepting you means we’d have to accept pedophiles!” 
  • “You ARE just pedophiles!” 
  • “You have a disease.” 
  • “That’s not human.” 
  • “You’ll grow out of it.” 
  • “That’s not real.” 
  • “You want to be oppressed.” 
  • “If you knew better than to attract attention you’d be fine. Whatever happened to you, you brought it on yourself.” 
  • “You’re innately abusive and selfish and can’t be trusted as partners.” 
  • “You’re innately homophobic.”
  • “Your presence is a danger to us by definition.” 
  • “If you’re not gay, you’re straight.”
  • “You’re not not-straight enough to be here.”
  • “Use of your own terminology is wrong. Use of existing terminology is also wrong.”
  • “The community is already defined; more groups can’t just join.”
  • “Not indulging someone’s sexual interest in you is hurting them.”

The baggage on these is substantial.

  • “It’s healthier for kids if knowledge of certain identities is kept from them.”
  • “Victimization and consent aren’t the deciding factors in whether your sexual conduct/identity/preferences are morally acceptable or not; we as a community are incapable of making decisions on this basis.”
  • “Pedophilia is a label that can be casually applied to anyone whose orientation I dislike..”
  • “Sexual orientation ought to be subject to medical intervention.”
  • “Sexual orientation is sufficient grounds to deny someone’s humanity.”
  • “What matters isn’t your present reality, it’s that something must have changed you into this and something else might change you back.”
  • “People can’t be trusted to recognize their identities on their own.”
  • “Opressed status is a cynical prize whose function is to get things out of other people.”
  • “Your abuse is your own fault.”
  • “Sexual orientation correlates to moral degeneracy.”
  • “Behavior doesn’t make the bigot.”
  • “The range of sexual orientations is properly understood as one goal with multiple failure states. Such failure is moral in nature.”
  • “Silence and isolation are fair demands to make of marginalized people.”
  • “Community is best understood as having impermeable and immobile borders and community membership must be inherited.”
  • “Sex can be owed.”

I know that you didn’t build these weapons from scratch – preexisting human nastiness left them lying around. Pericisheteronormativity left them lying around. And then radfem rhetoric came along, made some aftermarket modifications, and left them lying around. But you and yours have really gotten into picking them up and swinging. I wish this worried you.

•Splash damage is getting everywhere. Under SGA logic, bi/m-spec issues are understood as identical to gay and lesbian issues, when that’s not true. Enbies get their identities forcibly collapsed into definitions that don’t fit. Ageism and ableism are flat-out necessary, if you’re going to seize on the idea that liking the option of some community social spaces that aren’t clubs and bars is homophobic. 

You say you don’t like TERFs, but they love your stuff. 

Why did you glom so hard onto the claim that intersex people as a group don’t want to be included in the community, when that’s not true either?

I wish this worried you.

I don’t want to cheapen the bonds you have and the love you feel for the people you do consider a part of the community; they can’t have been easily come by. And I don’t want to dismiss the visceral comfort that comes with finally making it to a place of safety and slamming the door behind you. 

But I wish you could acknowledge, without its being a source of pain, that all groups whose identities represent benign violations of the dominant narrative about sex and gender and love have common cause, and that more light will come from resisting that narrative than resisting each other. That consent is the best measure of benignity. That we can have our own spaces within a much larger one.

That, to borrow physics for a needlessly poetic moment, the end of the rainbow is always farther away than it looks.

Guest Post! An open letter to men who date women

[Hey, remember how I used to talk about feminism? Maybe one day I’ll get back into that. In the meantime, though, here is a guest post by Spice, who I’m hoping might actually be a recurring guest blogger here! Because, y’know, I am a lazy blogger and I like it when other people do the writing for me.]

An Open Letter:

I am a woman. I am also a feminist. A feminist who happens to find herself mostly attracted to straight cis men. And, this is cool. Cis men can be awesome! Especially when they are also feminists.

And yet. And yet, while we live in a society that is finally starting, in bits and pieces, to unpack sexism, and while I date men who are either feminists or want to be, and while these men tend to be intelligent, sensitive people with good intuitions, relationships are still a confusing thing to navigate.

Because there are mixed messages. How are we dividing relationship responsibilities? Is it heteronormative? If it is, is that okay? And what often happens is that guys – particularly those with feminist sensibilities – worry about doing anything that is sexist. And this is understandable. And great! And also, at times, deeply frustrating. Sorting what is ok from what isn’t is already pretty hard when you know what it’s like to be a woman. I also think that what’s ok and what isn’t varies from relationship to relationship, and person to person. And so one thing I really want to say is that we should probably just get more used to talking this shit out, instead of avoiding things or guessing or making assumptions or whatever.

But, I also want to put something out there, something that is based on my own lived experience. And while this probably won’t represent women *everywhere* (because women are not a monolith) I have had enough positive feedback from women regarding what I’m about to write about that I am pretty confident that this will be pretty useful for at least some of us.

In my first relationship I ever had, I had an argument with my boyfriend about the fact that he never told me he thought I was beautiful. “Of course I think that. But I shouldn’t have to say it. I wouldn’t be dating you if I didn’t think so,” he claimed. He also didn’t feel comfortable saying those things, he said. It wasn’t his style.

I have such compassion for my younger self, because looking back, I knew he was wrong, but I couldn’t for the life of me articulate to him what was wrong with what he was saying. But since then, I’ve come across similar tendencies in my own partners and in those of my friends, and so this is my attempt to write a public service announcement.

“But!” You might be thinking. “But reducing women to their looks is bad right? We don’t want to value people just because they are attractive. I don’t want to offend my girlfriend or feminism.”

And yeah. I get it. I get where this impulse is coming from. And look. Sexism is a thing. Women’s value being reduced to their appearance is a thing. And, there are some seriously fucked up beliefs that help to form it. And these are beliefs that I, and you, and many other people have consciously tried to undo. And consciously unpacking them is one way of attacking them, and goes some way to undoing the problem, but it can’t possibly fix it entirely. And this is in part because pretty much since we were born, we have been sent fucked up messages. As a woman, I have been sent messages about what being a woman means, how one’s appearance forms a huge part of that, and how I should be doing it. I am sent these messages all the time, every day. These messages are ubiquitous and pervasive and come from so, so many directions: advertising, movies, television shows, billboards, window displays, cosmetics stores, magazines, clothing stores, the way women talk about themselves, the woman behind me in the coffee shop right now moralizing about her work out habits, my friends on facebook talking about how they hate their bodies, how women police other women…. just so, so many aesthetic things that permeate everything.

Because capitalism is actively invested in maintaining a lot of sexist beliefs. It’s how it makes a LOT of its money. As long as women keep feeling badly about themselves, then women will keep buying things to try to fill in their perceived inadequacies. Now, in general, ads often abuse ideas about ‘dreams’ and ‘happiness’, so like, ‘hey buy this and you will actually feel happy!’ etc. They try to give you a sense of some lack in your life that needs to be filled.

But saying that someone doesn’t *have* something is very different, I think, from being the target of ‘hey, you should *be* this, but you aren’t are you? Well, this product will help solve your failings!’ – because the latter thing is attacking not just how we feel, but who we *are*, and insinuating that there’s this ideal that we’re not living up to, and who we are will always, no matter what, be tied to how we match up (or don’t match up, realistically speaking) to that ideal. And once that gets instilled in women – and it does – then that is an easy thing to prey upon, and to manipulate. And so I spend most days putting a lot of energy into fighting it. Into thinking: no, no I don’t believe this. I will not allow my sense of self to be reduced to this, because this is bullshit. At least, I do that when I realize that I’m thinking about it, which sometimes (often?) I don’t.

And I think I do a pretty good job, quite frankly. And my self-esteem is also related to other things, like the fact that I’m funny and interesting, that I am good at teaching and that my own work is going well, and I sometimes write things people think are interesting and fun to read. My friends and family reinforce positive reflections of myself to me. I think of myself as a confident person.

And that is an achievement. It isn’t easy or straightforward to get that. But general confidence is not the same thing as confidence within a relationship. You can be extremely confident but that doesn’t mean that everyone is going to find you attractive, or like you. And needing that security within the context of a romantic/sexual relationship isn’t weak, or needy. It actually makes a whole lot of sense.

Certainly, acquiring a general sense of self-confidence as a woman is elusive. I’ve spent *my entire life* hearing/seeing/being told that the most important thing I can contribute to the world is being attractive and that I should place a huge part of my self-worth on that. And that being attractive is really important because it will make men want to sleep with you and by the way if men don’t want to sleep with you all the time you must be doing something wrong because that’s basically how men are wired, etc. (Even though… apparently you also have to work really hard at making them want to sleep with you by wearing makeup and the right clothes and and and?) And one major way to gauge your value, we are told, is via male desire. The importance of this cannot be overstated, because it has gone towards who I have built myself to be as a person, for better or worse. I can’t just decide to go back in and extract those pieces of myself because now I realize how fucked up those beliefs are. It doesn’t work like that. None of us is bigger than our culture.

And then I start having real relationships with real people (amazing!) and then I realize that these things are not true: my entire value is not based on my attractiveness, that my attractiveness is not entirely based on my physical appearance, and that men don’t want to have sex all the time. And sometimes I will want to have sex more than my partners do. And it’s confusing and I have to recalibrate how I’m judging my sense of self and desirability in a relationship and that is more work.

(And this is a great example of why sexism hurts men too, because all of a sudden a bunch of women are like, what do you mean you don’t want to have sex all the time, what’s wrong with me that you don’t? And the men are all confused, like, of course there’s nothing wrong with you, what is happening? And then the men are upset and confused and sad because women have these weird expectations and why would they have those expectations if they weren’t reasonable?)

And I know that many of these messages are wildly inaccurate. And so there is a programme in my brain devoted to fending off this tide of bullshit, and that is just so damn wearying. And I manage to keep my shit together, but then sometimes things leak out of the cracks in the dam that I build up against it. I’m *already* doing the work of constantly reminding myself of the fact that of course I’m attractive even though I don’t live up to (and couldn’t possibly live up to) all of these standards. And then, then to hear men express frustration with the fact that there’s so much pressure on them to reinforce women’s self esteem because sometimes we would like to be told that we’re beautiful? That somehow that is onerous? That we should just know that we’re attractive because otherwise they wouldn’t be dating us?

Are you kidding me? No. Just no. All of the No’s to that.

Despite the pervasive cultural voices telling me that I’m not good enough, and my own internalization of that, I’m supposed to just brush all that aside like it doesn’t matter very much and somehow choose to feel confident anyways? No. I need more than that. I deserve more than that. I cannot possibly reinforce this all for myself, I have no idea how I would do that. I have no idea how anyone would do that. And no one should have to.
Because our sense of ourselves is not divorced from our surroundings. It’s not as simple as just deciding to see myself in a certain way from inside a vacuum. And I take myself to be a pretty confident person, but I’m not a superhero. I cannot bootstrap myself up. I am a human being, who needs to hear that she is beautiful and desirable and admired and loved from the people around me. And again there is a distinction between how I feel about myself generally, and how I feel within the context of a relationship. You can be confident and still need positive feedback from your partner. I don’t think those two things are mutually exclusive. In fact it’s pretty damn normal. Confidence doesn’t come from nowhere.

So, compliment your girlfriend if she wants you to. Don’t make her deduce that you desire her. Don’t cop out by saying it’s ‘not your style.’ Don’t make her feel like it’s out of line with ‘feminism’ for her to want that. Or that you feel ‘weird’ or ‘awkward’. This isn’t hard, it basically means taking the things you think anyway and saying them out loud. And isn’t the point to make each other feel loved and desired and safe and comfortable? We’re on the same team here, so let’s do what we can to help each other feel happy and loved.

Guest Post! Sex vs. Rape vs. Power

[Today’s guest post brought to you by Problematic Shit (some) Feminists Say That Actually Make It Harder For Rape Survivors to Process Their Experiences, and For Us Even To Have Productive Conversation About Rape! Everybody welcome Frances Rae (@LetsHearItForMe), who was kind enough to write down some stuff when I asked them to because of a conversation we were having.]

There are a couple of phrases I’ve heard used in conversations about consent and rape, often by well-meaning people who usually identify as feminists and who are usually trying to examine and challenge rape culture:

“Rape is not sex,”
“Rape is about power, not sex.”

It's unclear to me how "Rape is about power" follows from "It's never the victim's fault." I understand how, if it were true that rape is about power, the rape conversation would be simpler. But I fail to see evidence that it's true.

It’s unclear to me how “Rape is about power” follows from “It’s never the victim’s fault.” I understand how, if it were true that rape is about power, the rape conversation would be simpler. But I fail to see evidence that it’s true.

They are concise, tidy mantras whose political function I understand as wanting to completely, absolutely distinguish between consensual and non-consensual sex acts and emphasize the (not necessarily physical) violence involved in removing someone’s choice. Those can be important things to differentiate, and the motivation behind saying these things is aptly based in promoting consent as critical. But these phrases can feel like they’re doing more than that, and I think they are actually damaging to the ideas they’re ostensibly trying to support. They also assume that there is no need to investigate the motivations or perceptions behind how rape occurs because they assume that the only possible reason for rape is a conscious intent of malice by A Bad Person.

“Rape is not sex.”

To begin with, “Rape is not sex” can be easily construed as “Rape never looks like sex.” If this were true, then it would follow that we would always immediately recognize rape and be able to differentiate it from consensual sex. But if rape and sex are so radically different as to always be obvious, it puts more responsibility on survivors to both identify and halt activities that are nonconsensual, which in turn leads to placing blame on them after it occurs. This also opens the door to let rapists off the (ethical and, often, legal) hook both by discrediting survivors’ accounts and attributing guilt to both parties.

Imagine, for example, that you’re in a long-term relationship. Often you do want to have sex with your partner, and you fully consent and enjoy yourself. Other times, you feel pressured, or aren’t in the mood, or change your mind partway through, and maybe aren’t comfortable saying so, but your partner proceeds. For the most part it otherwise looks like the rest of the sex you have anyway. Imagine this happens once, or a few times, or every time. You know you didn’t want to, but it didn’t occur to you until much later that what happened was not okay. Is it your fault for not knowing, then, since you should always be able to tell the difference between rape and sex? What if the times you consent and the times you don’t look so similar as to be almost indistinguishable?

The idea that rape never looks like sex can be detrimental to many people’s experiences of how both consensual sex and rape occur. It also follows from this that there are plenty of people out there who are completely oblivious to the fact that they’ve raped someone. From a young age, we are taught that one person will be the gatekeeper while the other will be the pursuer of sex: that if someone is pursuing you, you are supposed to say no (because if you don’t, it carries a heavy character judgement) whether you want sex or not, and that if you are the one doing the pursuing, it is your job to turn that inevitable “no” into a “yes”- or, at least, an opportunity. Usually these roles are assigned to women and men respectively, but that dynamic can certainly apply to relationships or interactions of any gender. As a result, coercion can end up seeming like an inevitable part of any sexual relationship. If you believe that someone is going to say no whether they mean it or not, what impact does that have on how seriously you will take a “no”? If you believe that you’re supposed to say “no” whether you mean it or not, how do you know whether you’ve been raped? What if both parties just plain don’t know of any other way for sex to happen?

“Rape is about power, not sex.”

The idea that rape is about power and not sex erases this very problem of how to communicate about consent in a variety of contexts. In the first place, we have to decide whether we even care what rape is “about” for the rapist, which I know is a contentious issue for a lot of people. It’s easy to say we shouldn’t care what rapists are thinking, and it is understandable, even, to not want to care. But I think if we want to reject all notions of victim-blaming and truly believe that the only person responsible for rape is the rapist, it is probably a good idea to look at how this can occur from that perspective. I’ve often heard (and agree) that we should be teaching “don’t rape” rather than “don’t get raped”, and I think that in order to do that, it is valuable to examine how sex and consent are understood by the pursuers. If someone just wants sex and doesn’t know how to go about that in ways that are respectful and consensual, it doesn’t necessarily mean their desire is about power. I’m not saying this makes them any less culpable- but how can you tell someone not to rape if they don’t know that what they’re doing is rape?

Now, this isn’t to say I think we should sympathize with rapists. When I say this is something “we” need to investigate, I am talking about the pursuers. There are campaigns like Men Can Stop Rape that do a lot of good and important work to broaden our awareness of what constitutes consent and illustrate some situations that are beyond the stereotypical stranger-in-an-alley depiction of rape. I do think it is problematic, however, to dichotomize and attribute segregated statuses to particular bodies or identities. While there are statistical differences in vulnerability, at the individual level no one is exempt from either side of sexual coercion.

Basically, all I want to acknowledge here is the following:

  • It can be difficult to differentiate between rape and sex, and saying they’re different things is not really constructive.
  • Sometimes rape is about not having an understanding of consent, even despite wanting to or believing they do.
  • Everyone should be mindful of the ways they go about pursuing sex in any context.
  • There needs to be more discussion (generally, everywhere, all the time, for everybody) about what consent entails.

So, those are my controversial opinions of the day on how the things we say about rape are wrong and why we should stop saying them. Please feel free to leave a comment telling me what a doofus I am. Goodbye, internet!

Frances Rae is a queer gender-bored non-monogamous parent to a hilarious four-year-old and partner to a handful of generally amazing humans. They are passionate about queerness, mental illness, and talking about poop. Frances spends their time doing crafts, walking into door frames, and accidentally covering Toronto in glitter. They have a degree in psychology & sexuality studies, and their favourite colour is everything. Follow them on twitter @LetsHearItForMe

Guest Post! Stranger on the train

So I’m standing in the subway yesterday, listening to music, reading a friend’s blog post about moral relativism. I’m engrossed because it’s an interesting topic, and I like to hear his opinions, and I’m weaving threads of thought together in my head and making note of things I want to comment on, whether on the blog or when we go out for beers next time. The subway goes over the Bloor bridge, the one place that gets reception, and I quickly hit the comments link to see what other people have written and how it fits into what I’m thinking.

I’m watching the little loading circle, hoping the page will load before we go into the tunnel again, trying to remember whether moral relativism refers only to temporally disparate cultures or if it’s applicable cross-culturally in the same time period, when I notice the guy next to me trying to get my attention.

I pull one of my earbuds out. “Sorry?”

He mumbles something again, but my music is too loud in the other ear and I can’t make out a single word he’s saying. I pull out the other earbud, apologize again, and ask him to repeat himself.

“how are you today,” he says.


I see. You want to make conversation. Not even about anything specific or interesting; you just want words to come out of our mouths and be directed toward each other. I immediately fill with righteous rage; I was having such interesting thoughts, I was listening to good music, and he pulled me out of my rich internal world for… what? So he can ask me uninteresting questions?

The rage washes over me quickly, and I know to ignore it until it passes. I had a similar encounter with someone a few weeks ago and I regretted how I dealt with it, and decided that I would handle it differently next time. The time a few weeks ago, I was sitting on a bench, listening to music, reading a book, when the guy sitting next to me asked me for the time and immediately followed it with “where are you from?” and after a few more questions asked for my phone number. I had acted curt and cold toward him, and while I don’t think that was wrong of me at all (if someone’s listening to music and reading a book, it’s a pretty clear sign that they don’t want to be interacting with the outside world at the moment, and you should probably leave them alone unless you have a good reason to pull them out. And a good reason is not “I want to talk to them.”) I still think there was probably a more effective way to talk to him (or rather, to get him to stop talking to me, and to not do the same to other women in the future) and I would like to find that way.

So anyway, back to the subway. I’m reminding myself of the guy from a few weeks ago, and that I wanted to handle it differently, and that this is an opportunity to do so with this new guy. Is my rage helpful at the moment? Maybe, if I can think of exactly the right thing to say, and exactly the right intonation to say it with, to make it clear to him that there are certain social cues which indicate that a person doesn’t want to be bothered, and that I was exhibiting several of those, and that I am uninterested in speaking with someone whose first order of business is to disregard and disrespect the reasonably clear cues I was presenting. Can I think of the exact right thing to say and the exact right way to say it in this moment? Not really. So, can I use this rage for something useful? Probably not. I could display it anyway, and hope that his reaction is “gosh, I should probably not bother someone who is so clearly doing something else,” but the more likely reaction would be “what a bitch. I can’t catch a break.” I’m making a lot of assumptions about him, but I’m okay with those assumptions.

Is my rage about him, anyway? Well, kind of. He did something which I fucking hate strangers doing. I have every right to be annoyed. But if he were the only person to ever do that to me, I probably wouldn’t be anything more than annoyed. My visceral reaction to his disrespect isn’t really about him, but about all the times this has happened before. Would it even make sense to vent that rage at him, when he is simply the latest in a string of similar experiences I’ve had all my life? Is it him that I’m angry at, or the biker dude who hit on me when I went to the store for cookies when I was 14? Or the man who rubbed my thigh on the bus when I was 16? Or the man who sexually abused me when I was 6?

The rage isn’t really about this guy after all. It’s about me and the experiences I’ve had and the way that this is supposed to just be an expected and normal part of life. This guy’s sin is that he disregarded my social cues because they were inconvenient for him. A shitty thing to do, but I can’t ask him to answer for the sins of all the predatory men I’ve encountered before him.

These thoughts pass through my head in less than a second, and the rage washes over me and gets replaced by idle amusement. I don’t know how to properly get across what I want to get across to him, but I can at least collect data for the next time this happens.

So I tell him how I am today. No, I’m not coming home from work, I’m going to a friend’s place. I work in software. Yes, I’m pretty good at it. No, I haven’t seen any good movies lately. No, I don’t watch sports. No, I didn’t grow up in Canada. I came here when I was nine. No, I would not like to see you again. Have a good day.

It’d be great if I could say that I now know exactly what to say to simultaneously get someone to stop talking to me and get them to understand why. It’s not the “getting them to stop” that’s a problem. I have absolutely no issue with telling a stranger to leave me alone. I’ve done it several times in the past, to great success (it seems people are thrown off when someone blatantly tells them “please leave now,” so they end up doing so). It’s the fact that getting him out of my hair does nothing for the bigger issue. It just pushes him off to be someone else’s problem. I have very little interest in doing that.

I wonder what his thought process was. He clearly knew the right questions to ask to get to know someone better – he was just missing the vital first ingredient, that the person you’re talking to has to want to talk to you as well, and that this is as much about their own current internal state as it is about making yourself seem like someone worth talking to. Did he read books about how to talk to girls? Get shitty advice from his friends? Does he have social anxiety and doesn’t understand how to properly relate to people? Is he lonely? Why me, as opposed to someone else on the train? Was it just my turn, or was there something specific about me that made him want to talk to me? I need to get some sort of handle on the answers to those questions before I can know how to get through to him. I need to find some way to piece together the similarities between the men (I would say “people”, but it’s really just been men) who have bothered me in this way, without lumping them all together and making the next poor guy pay for everyone else’s sins. And I say “poor guy” without any hint of sarcasm. I can’t imagine that anyone who is that poor at picking up social cues can live a happy and fulfilling life. That guy certainly didn’t seem happy or fulfilled. Is it directly his fault, or is he a product of shitty life lessons? It’s not really him I’m mad at; it’s the fact that he’s a product of our culture.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the most effective ways to communicate with people. I suppose it would be more accurate to say that I’ve spent my whole life thinking about it, but that sounds pretentious. But I’m fascinated by people’s thought processes, and by figuring out how to wedge new ideas into their thought processes. As far as I can tell, the only way to do that is to truly try to understand the way that person’s mind works. You can throw facts at someone all day long and get nowhere if you haven’t figured out how to actually get those facts to stick with them. If I actually care about getting through to people, then I need to do it on their own terms, not my own.

I’m not particularly keen on interacting with someone like him again. But it’s going to happen, so I ought to at least try to make it into a productive interaction.