Personally Impersonal

At the last few events that I’ve been to, I’ve completely embraced my extroversion and been mindful of how I react to it. Interestingly, I’ve found a distinct difference in my reactions to rejection. I’m referring specifically to rejection from sexuality-apparent-gender-compatible people (I can’t find a word to describe this, but in my case as a heterosexual cis male, that means people who appear female to my eyes).

When I am ignored indirectly, as in a crowded train, supermarket or city center, I literally don’t care. This is the default state in a city. It is tiring and impossible to acknowledge everybody that you walk past. They may as well be mannequins to dodge around for all the feeling they evoke in me.

When I am rejected directly and personally, as in we’ve been talking and I ask for her phone number and am refused, then I am completely okay with that. It doesn’t feel good, but neither does it feel all that bad. I feel a mild disappointment that her informed choice does not align with my choice. It doesn’t feel personal at all, despite that it is in fact a rejection of me, personally, specifically.

When I am rejected directly and impersonally, as in we make and contact and she deliberately looks away, refusing after that to even look in my general direction, then I feel utterly rejected. I am not just rejected, but my very presence is rejected. It is a whole rejection of not only my inner being but also my superficial exterior. Not even the book’s cover is worthy of a glance. It feels that bad; that my existence is not even worthy of acknowledgement.

many black ducklings turned away from a single yellow duckling, who is trying to reach them

Intellectually, I understand it to have nothing to do with my person. Even more, I understand it to have nothing to do with my exterior – with one exception – that I appear male. I also understand that this is most likely to be a self-defence mechanism to prevent unwanted attention, constant flirtation and strings of chat-ups.
So I let the feeling go. I let it slip away so that it no longer grips my heart and I can feel the relief of pressure in my chest. Nevertheless, it does feel terrible.

For this and other reasons, I am definitely self-serving when I support feminism. I know that misogyny hurts men as well as women and we could all do with more feminism in our culture to build a more equal and sex-positive environment for us all.


4 Comments Add yours

  1. Aurel says:

    I am feeling exactly the same way. How can we solve this problem? Change our appearance? Change our way of thinking? Asking the person who (we feel) rejected us?


    1. polyhydra says:

      I’ve been thinking about this and I’m not really sure that we can do much in the short term.
      Personal changes will have a very limited effect to the people we immediately interact with of otherwise simply supporting social norms.
      If you want to be authentic, then society needs to change. That will take a lot more work over a long period of time, much like the gay rights, racial equality or feminist movements… that have achieved a lot, but are still struggling.
      I personally think that this is the correct and sustainable way of doing it, but it will take a ton of patience and effort.
      In the mean time, we will have to accept that most people we interact with are not at that position that we would like and deal with our own reactions to that in a positive way that doesn’t alienate them.


  2. Ian says:

    Let’s not forget that some people are narcissistic, sociopathic or, well, broken

    For them rejection can be a game, people can literally fit into categories of useful or useless and for others, admitting feelings of attraction can feel too embarrassing or dirty.

    Rejection is often as much about the mindset of the individual as to any qualities they percieve in you.

    Non of that has anything to do with an active hatred if women (misogyny)


    1. polyhydra says:

      I agree. This was a description of how I feel in different situations and how I perceive our society biasing interactions in a certain way.
      I admit that misogyny was probably not the correct word to use here. I’m not really talking about hatred of women, more patriarchy or even better macho culture, where men (and not women) are expected to do all the approaching and expected to ignore rejections (because women are expected to reject to say yes so that they are not perceived as being too easy) and basically keep hounding until submission.
      When no means no at the same time as meaning yes, no-one can tell what no means.


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