You Are What You Speak

Everyone knows you are what you eat. I’d argue, you are also what you speak. It is a fine measure of character when someone speaks with purpose, logic and reason. The following are three recent social encounters, where a person’s words had unfortunate destructive power, thereby thwarting their own ultimate goals.

Exhibit A:

Dude on a dating app asked whether I’m “gay or just have an eclectic group of friends.”

This is a terrible question – it shouldn’t take explaining. If you don’t get it, we just aren’t compatible. I canceled our first meeting.

Exhibit B:

Couple months ago, an acquaintance posted on Facebook about how he thinks “mom boobs” are disgusting. Most of the comments that followed his initial statement were just as bad or worse. I chimed in, noting how offensive it was.

He quipped back, “Your hopes for me were too high.”

Wow, this was the same guy who wanted me to shoot a music video for his band. Made a mental note: That would never fucking happen. We didn’t speak again. Until…

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My friend Erica and I decided to check out a new spot in the neighborhood, called Thai Me Up. It’s actually a food cart, but you can eat in the front room of the house behind the cart, if you want. While we were waiting for our order, I checked us in on Facebook, because the name of the place was funny.

By the time we were done eating, there was a comment on my post from the dude:

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Of course he quickly removed the comment (and with it, my response), then he “unfriended” me on Facebook. I only regret he beat me to it.

I replaced the missing comments with this one: “Don’t bother going. It’s co-owned by a body-shaming misogynist. Too bad, because the people who were working there seemed like nice folks.”

In a way, I’m glad this happened because within a day I had two friends separately thanking me for calling him out, because he’d been a creepy, disrespectful monster to each of them, on multiple occasions in the last year.

Brings to mind a famous quote from Maya Angelou: “When people show you who they are, believe them.”

Exhibit C:

A guy from a dating app asked for my number. Since it felt like it would be insulting to withhold the number, I gave it to him. Within minutes, I had an unsolicited dick pic.

“Oh good lord.”

“Ur turn,” said the dude.

“I’m not into pic games, especially before meeting in real life.”

“?????”

Guess something about this mild rejection didn’t compute. The next day, he texted again about returning the trade, “Still your turn.”

“Still not into pic games.”

He sent another pic, this one of his face, looking annoyed. I said something about how he was cute.

“Thank you. You are as well. Can we trade pics?”

“I’m about to shower. I’d much rather show you in person.”

“Um yes, but one shower shot wouldn’t hurt.”

He’d become a broken record and now I was done with it. My strategy was to ignore him.

But then he sent another message: “Starting to think you’re…”

“Not playing pic games. Just trade pics with someone who’s into that! I’m busy getting ready for a conference.”

Welp. THAT did the trick!

“You’re a manly bitch, typical NW bred poser. Wonder why everyone loathes Oregonians outside of Oregon? Your deep voice keeps you in the spotlight. 36… and counting. Enjoy!”

Considered debunking his points, before opting to save my breath (and blocked him instead). Like, what does my age have to do with counting? I already have a kid, not trying to make another one. Nor do I plan to get married. Especially not to someone like him! Besides, if he thinks I’m “sexy as hell” but also thinks I’m manly with a deep voice, maybe it’s time for him to start dating men.

Next time a guy asks for my number, I’ll tell him right out of the gates, “Not into pic games.” Patters suggest, when a guy is that quick to show off his schlong, there’s a strong chance it’s the best thing he’s got going for him. I’m just glad this guy revealed himself (no pun intended) before I bothered meeting him in person.

Except – perhaps – for Exhibit A (who’s offense seems insignificant, compared to the two that follow), what the hell is wrong with these people? The answer is Toxic Masculinity, and the best treatment appears to be a subtle blend of social condemnation, education and therapy. If this seems too gender-specific, it’s because it is. Cis-Hetero Men are the only people who’ve ever sent me unsolicited nudes. (It may be on the mild side, but sending unwelcome pictures of your junk is disrespectful.) For that matter, CHM are also the only ones who’ve ever threatened to do me harm, or to ruin or take my life. It is on a varying scale of resentment toward women, that these behaviors exist.

So for all the CHM who are angry* at women: This why you don’t send unsolicited dick pics. This is why you don’t rant online about how gross you think “mom boobs” are (especially when you’re a local business owner). This is also why you don’t question someone’s sexuality, based on their “eclectic” group of friends. Yes, Americans have a right to free speech. But that doesn’t make us free from consequences. Words may be abstract, but they have real-world outcomes in actual, physical space.

Toxic Masculinity isn’t a life sentence. And I’m no angel either! I’ve made mistakes and offended people that I care about. People learn and change, though I doubt it happens without a few heavy doses of the aforementioned things (social-condemnation, education, therapy) along with some authentic, well-chosen words.

*Not saying all CHM are angry! There are lots of cis-hetero men whom I adore, but since they’re not part of this problem, there’s no need to discuss them here.

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