My doorbell doesn’t work for cishet guys. (“Cis” are people whose gender is the same as that with which they were identified at birth. “Het” is short for heterosexual. Neither are a slur, though both can be used as such.) It wasn’t my intention to prevent their access to my humble abode: it’s the unintentional fallout of a practical issue. The doorbell, for logistic reasons, is located in a relatively awkward place. Unless it is pressed properly, it doesn’t work. It isn’t faulty, as demonstrated by the fact that all manner of people use it successfully on a daily basis. Not cishet guys, though; the vast majority of them just can’t hack it. This has been proven by three years of daily experimentation on unwitting human subjects.
There is an exception to this rule. One delivery person who presents as female is also routinely incapable of using the doorbell. She can use the phone, though, to yell at me that she’s outside.
When this pattern emerged, I was moderately baffled by it, until I noticed another pattern: the people who can’t work the doorbell are also the people who get angry at it, and at me, because “it doesn’t work.” When I prove that it does in fact work, by pressing upon it with my dainty finger and making it work, they get angrier. I’ve gone through this process several times with some of them; they still can’t use the doorbell, they’re still convinced that the problem is with it, not with them, and every time their anger increases.
The split seems to be between people who wonder whether they are pressing the doorbell right, so take care in how they are doing it and perhaps even try again if they’re not sure, and people who believe that they are obviously doing it right. For the latter, if their first attempt doesn’t work, then the problem is with the doorbell, not with them. Their immediate response is to get angry at the thing that’s thwarting them, rather than try to make it work, and at the people who are responsible for the thing being in their way. When they are shown conclusively that the thing isn’t faulty, being proven wrong makes them furious.
It so happens that this attitude is most commonly displayed by cishet guys. Whether that’s nature, nurture, or coincidence, is beyond my scant abilities to determine.
There are a number of media products I don’t like. Some of these products are, on the surface, designed precisely for people like me, “Jessica Jones” being a prime example. I’ve lost count of the number of people who insisted that I should watch it because I would love it. I tried it, got a couple of episodes in, and noped so far and fast out of it that you couldn’t see me for dust.
I wasn’t offended or hurt by the fact that I didn’t like it. I came to the conclusion that I was not in fact its intended audience. For me, the idea of a PTSD sufferer hunted down by a superhuman psychopath is NOT entertainment. So are many other ideas, underlying many other programs, movies, book, music videos, etc. In all honesty, the vast majority of media is of no interest to me. I don’t enjoy it, so I don’t consume it.
That also doesn’t offend or hurt me, because I don’t expect everything to be made so I will like it. When I don’t like something, I remain aware of the fact that people who like that kind of thing will find that the kind of thing they like. That doesn’t offend or hurt me, either. Thusly I managed to survive the Star Wars prequels with minimum damage to my psyche. I reeeeeeaaaally liked “Rogue One,” but I only enjoyed “The Last Jedi” because porgs and spaceships and explosions. I didn’t watch the latest “Mad Max” because the premise didn’t interest me in the least, yet I enjoyed the fact that many of my friends enjoyed it. I hated the new “Ghostbusters,” but I hated the old “Ghostbusters,” too. Some of my friends liked them, some hated them. We all pulled through.
I know a ton of people who can’t tolerate anything they do not love. I don’t mean that they won’t sit through a movie they hate, or go to a club playing music they dislike: they literally cannot tolerate the existence of any media not to their taste. They find it offensive, and they are angered by its creation and its enjoyment. They take great pains to interject themselves in conversations where people are rejoicing in A Thing and list the many, many ways in which said thing is shitty. If people do not agree with them, they get even angrier, and proceed to explain why the fans of the Bad Thing are Bad People. They apparently operate under the belief that their taste is, or should be, universal; that they are the arbiters of what is Good and Bad; and that anyone who doesn’t agree with them should be put right. I do not understand how they came to develop that conviction.
There is a self-defence instructor who has a habit of interjecting himself in public debates on certain subjects (most notably rape culture) and demand that people provide not only a universal definition for the term, but solid scientific proof that it is A Thing before he will engage in the conversation. I find the behaviour extraordinary – not the term clarification aspect of it, because 90% of flame wars could be averted if people only bothered to check that they’re actually talking about the same thing, but the fact that he effectively demands a fee for his participation in a conversation. It apparently doesn’t occur to him that the conversation can take place without him; that people may feel indifferent about his absence, or even rejoice in it.
I have never felt indispensable to a conversation. He obviously does. I wonder about the personal experiences that led him to develop that belief.
My life must be wildly different from his. I am used to having to fight for the right to participate in a conversation; to prove not only the validity of my points, but my personal worth before I am allowed to take part. Oftentimes, if I disagree with other participants, I have to prove my personal worth all over again before my arguments are examined. This has changed quite a bit online since my name change, as I mentioned in a previous blog, but the issue resurfaces every time people discover the nature of my crotch giblets.
A self-defence instructor popped on my page a couple of weeks ago to suggest that an anti-bullying method he teaches his students may also be useful in abusive situations. A couple of us came up to say that not only the latter was unlikely to be the case, but, even as an anti-bullying method, it was pretty damn chancy. (To be specific: it works very well in situations where the bullying amounts to namecalling that isn’t going to escalate – but then so does any permutation of “not giving a fuck” – and is likely to fail spectacularly in all other situations, potentially with severe repercussions.)
The guy defended his position from a couple of angles, in the process of which he stated that he knows he’s the only one teaching that method. I replied that I found it extraordinary that his equation would be:
(I’m the only one teaching this) + (people keep telling me that I’m wrong) = (clearly I am a brilliant visionary)
His response was that “he doesn’t hear people telling him that he’s wrong.”
It was the most accurate and least self-aware statement anyone has ever made in my presence. The guy genuinely does not hear people telling him that he’s wrong. I don’t know what he hears instead; the chirping of crickets, the waffling of the grown-ups in Peanuts, or a heavenly chorus repeating to him that he’s ahead of his time? I will probably never find out, because I have no interest in talking to him further. He can’t hear my voice, so it’s pointless. I can only hope he doesn’t kill any of his students.
I cannot comprehend how anyone would come to develop that response to disagreements. I don’t know if my self-doubt is born or bred, but it’s there, and having people I respect telling me to check myself causes me to fucking bolt to do as they say, particularly when the welfare of third parties is at stake. More than that, I don’t understand how he gets to have that kind of conversation in a public forum without third parties jumping down his throat. I have never, ever had a public disagreement without one or more people (usually men but occasionally older women) feeling the urge to educate me about how disagreements should be handled, or avoided. I am still routinely hearing about a fallout I had with a guy about 3 years ago, in which apparently I was at fault, even though I explained numerous times that the public fallout was but a minor component of a far more serious private fallout.
Maybe that dude gets the same telling-offs, but he can’t hear them either. Maybe having a vagina is a free ticket to a life-long free education at the hands of the public; a well-meaning but relentless process that those in possession of a penis miss out on. Dunno.