Jewels, I meant to respond to your first piece and then I realized I didn’t have anything intelligent to say. But reading this conversation I feel like now I might, we’ll see.
I want to throw something out there and hopefully I don’t come off as a misogynist. If you were male most of these shifts would never have happened to you. I am basically, an average to above average looking guy.
My profile photo is deliberately less than totally clear, you’ll have to take my word for it.
For as gross, threatening, and most of the time not acceptable as it is, male attraction is at least blatant. Men like me who never quarterbacked the football team, and don’t roll in the kind of attention getting circles successful guys do simply don’t get noticed. Don’t get me wrong, we find women who are attracted to us, we have sex, we get married. But the kind of raw-on-the street or in-a-bar attraction you write about simply does not occur. It didn’t happen to me when I was in the best shape of my life and it doesn’t happen now.
Because I am just another guy. I used to care about what I wore day-to-day to my day job. But I realized pretty quickly, that no one actually cared.
(Let me put in the prerequisite disclaimer here, being a straight white male is an extremely privileged position, I don’t mean to discount that.)
Women simply don’t express outward attraction the way men do on daily basis. It can make many men feel just as unseen as women do in that regard.
There’s another issue here. That of permission. Once we move beyond the basic superficial act of being seen, there’s the much more important act of really getting to know a person and see them as fully formed humans, not just a collection of physical features.
It strikes me that we only want some people in our lives to really see us. Most people play roles in our lives. What we present to them is commiserate with that role. Our fellow parents on the PTA board see a different version of ourselves than do our co-workers than do our spouses. This versioning we do of ourselves is a method of granting permission to others. I permit you to see this much of me.
All of that said, I get what you’re craving, because I crave it to. I don’t want to just be a dad, or just be a professional, or just be anything. I want to be my whole self.
So why doesn’t our culture allow that?