I’m not brave. I mean, it’s pretty obvious. I was that weird, quiet girl hiding behind a book growing up and I’m still that weird, quiet woman. Nothing has really changed. Maybe I’m better at hiding my inner weirdo, but she’s still totally there.
Anyway, there’s this popular little bit of self-help/stoic advice. What’s the worst that could happen and how bad could it really be? For a lot of men, the answer is, I lose my business and things are hard and weird for a while. But for women, the answer is: some man kills me or stalks me or sends me rape and death threats.
And it’s not like this is clear out of left field. It’s not like this is something that hasn’t happened. Women are killed and raped by men all the time.
And the last thing I’d like to do is bring this sort of craziness down on my family.
I know this is very unlikely. But this is one more stumbling block in my way. I can’t not think about this. But I can think about it and work through it and have some contingency plans.
Anyway, this is the thought I’ve been playing with lately. I’m working through my feelings about it and how to deal with it. And I think once I’ve either decided the risk is low enough, I’ll move forward.
I wonder how many of these stumbling blocks are of my own creation? I suppose I’ll find out as I cross them off.
Both cartoons my kid has been watching recently and I roll my eyes every single time.
David, from Lilo and Stitch. Nani, the older sister, says, “David, I told you. It’s too complicated. I can’t date you.” While her life is quite complicated, it sounds like she’s been putting him off for a long time. But of course, he is always there. I can just hear the, “But he’s just trying to help,” and the response to that is, “He’s only trying to get her to date him still.” Later in the film, “Oh, David. I am going to owe you big time for this!” and his response is, “Why don’t you just date me and we’ll call it even?” Despite how many times she says no, he is still there and in the end, all the photos show them all together as a happy family.
There may be some backstory there, they were dating before and they took a break so Nani could settle with Lilo, but it doesn’t seem like it. It seems like David has always been that cockleburr in your sock and Nani finally just accepted the eventuality of it.
If she should want to break up? What would the nightmare of that look like? She’s got a small kid to care for. If he can’t respect her boundaries now, why would he then?
And the other example for today is Tombo from Kiki’s Delivery Service. I don’t know how much clearer it could be that she wants nothing to do with him. Every time I watch Kiki, every time Tombo shows up, all I can think is Fuck that guy. And Osono doesn’t help matters either, sending Kiki out to make a delivery to him. I mean… she’s in a very vulnerable position, a young girl alone in a big city. And he just keeps badgering her and being creepy and not taking No for an answer. It icks me out big time.
At least he’s the only one in Miyazaki I can think of off the top of my head.
And I don’t even want to begin going into the Persistent Man with romance novels. That’s a pretty common, gross adventure. I’ll have to start charting those too. As much fun as that will be, lololol.
A mighty, mighty migraine hit Thursday morning with zero warning. I am finally eating and not barfing again, but my brain likes to go on little adventures when I’m not quite using it.
This morning, as I was laying in bed, trying to let my brain calm down and trying to recover from an arduous nail appointment (usually one of my most favorite me time adventures in the world), I started thinking about Persistent Men.
He follows her to work. He badgers her into spending time with him and in the end, she goes with him. Although, the other guy, Henri, had a weird power imbalance with her too. Taking her in during the war when she was still “a child” then falling in love with her? Hrm.
Anyway. This idea that if a man is persistent enough, he will wear her down just creeps me out so much. In An American in Paris, he wins her over through his persistence. Offhand, I can’t think of more (migraine brain, did I mention?) but I know I’ve seen it.
And regardless of what the woman says. Regardless how she initially feels, if she just gives him a fair shake, she’ll discover that he’s actually a nice guy. The man of her dreams in fact!
Where is her agency? She tries to maintain her boundaries, she tries to do what she can to keep herself safe, but instead, it’s all, “Oh, well, she never really knew her mind to begin with, so once he was able to talk some sense into her, she went with him.”
Yuck. Just yuck.
I mean, sure, romance, ripped bodices, whatever. I can understand the appeal, I suppose, of being wanted so much. To be washed away on the tides of pleasure and have it not be ~your fault~. To be able to maintain virginal purity while still being able to explore passion. But this goes right back into the discussion about consent. And it also assumes that rape isn’t about maintaining power structures.
But, back to the Persistent Man. Suppose she does finally go out with him. How many times does she have to go out with him before she can say, “Ok, that’s enough?” Now does she “owe him” for him magnanimity of taking her out to dinner? Does she owe him kisses? Sex? Blow jobs? What? And if she says no, then she becomes a cocktease and led him on. And then the cry, “Well, if she didn’t want to go out with him, she should have just said so!”
In any case, this idea of the Persistent Man started playing around in my head and I wanted to explore it a little. I’m sure I’ll expand on it at a later time. My poor brain is so tired from just starting to plot this all out. And I’ll start keeping track of the Persistent Man now as I find them in media.
I was shaving my legs earlier today, (how funny to be thinking about gender norms and expectations while engaging in such gender normative behavior!) and for some reason, Catherine Anderson’s book, My Sunshine popped into my head.
The heroine, an erstwhile biologist, experienced massive brain trauma while cliff diving and now has aphasia. She falls in love with one of the hunky veterinarians (the sensitive one, of course. His twin is the asshole veterinarian) but they can’t be together because of her various challenges. All she has to fall back on are her supremely gender normative feminine abilities. She bakes! “She made cookies and tarts to take to the clinic.” She decorates! “She had a knack for taking odds and ends, assembling them into groups, and making them look good.” She nags him to eat when he forgets! She takes care of his heart and soul! And let us not forget her “…Snug blue jeans cupped a delightfully well rounded posterior and showcased a pair of shapely legs that begged for a much longer look.” DAT ASS. Continue reading Femininity and Being Saved→
Because when's the last time you trembled from delight?