Twilight: Depression and Dances

Twilight Recap: Bella has fully recovered from the incident in the parking lot, but she is discouraged by her repeated dreams of the unreachable Edward Cullen and his overt unwillingness to speak to her despite her attempts to be polite to him in class.

Twilight, Chapter 4: Invitations

   Despite my outright lies, the tenor of my e-mails alerted Renée to my depression, and she called a few times, worried. I tried to convince her it was just the weather that had me down.

Last week it was pointed out in the comments that Bella's frequent mental dismissal of herself while still feeling superior to others was not, in fact, inconsistent with depression. And now that that's been pointed out, it's impossible for me to not see this week's segment in the same light -- indeed, Bella even calls out in the first sentence here that she is depressed and her mother realizes it.

No one should have to "justify" being depressed. Depression is, in fact, something that many people suffer regardless of any outside cause. However, if we were looking for causes for Bella to be depressed, I'd say she actually has a few pretty good reasons to be depressed -- or perhaps it would be better phrasing to say that I have a hard time identifying any support structures to help her out of her depression. So today's post is going to be pretty sympathetic.

Let me count the ways. Bella's mother is a functional child who has monopolized Bella's own childhood into taking care of her, and who now doesn't need Bella anymore with the appearance of Baseball Phil. Bella's father is a provider who has given child support, paid for extensive summer visits, arranged for a car, and paid for a hospital visit for Bella, but who deliberately works over the weekend or goes on long "fishing trips" to the reservation to avoid having to converse with his daughter. Parental support for conquering depression: zero.

In the meantime, Bella is exceedingly popular at school, but her popularity is apparently due entirely to her good looks and her novelty as the new city girl in town. Whether this is actually true for her girl friends like Jessica is debatable, but I recognize that depression could make Bella feel this way. As for her ever-increasing entourage of boy admirers, it seems reasonable to assume that Bella doesn't feel like she can engage in an open dialog of her emotions, not if the boys in question are trying to go the Stealth Nice Guy route into a de facto romantic relationship with her. Peer support for recognizing and combating depression: zero.

Add to all this that Bella has just experienced a majorly traumatic life event. She very nearly died that day in the parking lot. In the shock of the situation, she leaped into defensive anger, and then in the days to follow, she sunk into a awed gratitude -- but it's extremely likely that there's more than just gratitude going through her mind right now. In the wake of a major non-accident, it's very normal to feel subdued. There can be a lot of feelings to deal with in the wake of almost died and it can be hard to grapple with those feelings when, you know, nothing "really" happened. But the fact that you didn't die and you're safe doesn't mean that day was a normal day like any other and it doesn't mean that Bella wouldn't be grappling with a lot of conflicting emotions in the wake of it.

And, of course, the accident has made her a celebrity in an environment where she just wanted to blend in and be left alone, which reinforces her fears that her "friends" are only interested in her drama, as well as the notion that her mortality is a source of interesting stories.

Then there's the problem of Edward. Prior to the accident, he was actually somewhat warm (if intrusive) to Bella in their Biology class. Bella has made it clear that she's intensely attracted to Edward and the morning of the accident she was looking forward to seeing him and hoping that some kind of unlikely romance might bloom. Instead, he ended up saving her life, which should have brought them closer together (if romance novels have taught me anything) but instead has mysteriously resulted in him absolutely shunning her.

So. Not only did the near-accident bring her to abrupt terms with her mortality, further highlight her fears that her friends don't care about her as a person, and exacerbate her relationship with her parents, it also ruined her hopes of a romance with the one boy she was interested in. And meanwhile, Forks is a never-ending parade of cloudy days and rainy nights. Knowing my own history with depression and S.A.D., I'd be kind of where Bella is now, too.

   Mike, at least, was pleased by the obvious coolness between me and my lab partner. I could see he'd been worried that Edward's daring rescue might have impressed me, and he was relieved that it seemed to have the opposite effect. He grew more confident, sitting on the edge of my table to talk before Biology class started, ignoring Edward as completely as he ignored us. 
   [...]
   The rain continued heavily, though, and the weeks passed.
   [...]
   Jessica made me aware of another event looming on the horizon -- she called the first Tuesday of March to ask my permission to invite Mike to the girls' choice spring dance in two weeks.
   "Are you sure you don't mind . . . you weren't planning to ask him?" she persisted when I told her I didn't mind in the least.
   "No, Jess, I'm not going," I assured her. Dancing was glaringly outside my range of abilities.
    "It will be really fun." Her attempt to convince me was halfhearted. I suspected that Jessica enjoyed my inexplicable popularity more than my actual company.

A part of me wants to make a throw-away joke here about not being able to imagine at all why Jessica might not enjoy Bella's company, but instead I'll put on my Serious Business cap and point out that this is an unfortunate side-effect of depression: depressed people are often not "fun" to be around and thus they are shunned and isolated. It becomes a vicious cycle of depression and loneliness and a lack of external support structures to help overcome depression.

So while I don't blame Jessica for not being dazzled by Bella's morose personality, it makes me sad that no one -- not her parents, not her teachers, not her friends, not her school counselors -- feels the need to step in and offer some serious, honest-to-goodness help to Bella as she struggles with her depression.

   The next day, I was surprised that Jessica wasn't her usual gushing self in Trig and Spanish. She was silent as she walked by my side between classes, and I was afraid to ask her why. If Mike had turned her down, I was the last person she would want to tell.
   My fears were strengthened during lunch when Jessica sat as far from Mike as possible, chatting animatedly with Eric. Mike was unusually quiet.
   Mike was still quiet as he walked me to class, the uncomfortable look on his face a bad sign. But he didn't broach the subject until I was in my seat and he was perched on my desk. As always, I was electrically aware of Edward sitting close enough to touch, as distant as if he were merely an invention of my imagination.
   "So," Mike said, looking at the floor, "Jessica asked me to the spring dance."
   "That's great." I made my voice bright and enthusiastic. "You'll have a lot of fun with Jessica."

The other positive thing I can say here is that I'm glad that Bella is actively working to get rid of Mike: she doesn't want him, Jessica does, and so she reassures Jessica clearly and candidly that Bella doesn't consider herself to have any kind of claim on Mike. It's not that I dislike Mike, but if Bella really isn't interested in him and he can't or won't to take her social cues, and she doesn't feel comfortable telling him more overtly that she is Not Interested, then this seems like a good next-best step.

I also like that Bella is being, in her own way, very sensitive towards Jessica. She tells Jessica that she "doesn't mind in the least" if Jessica asks Mike, which is a candid endorsement of Jessica's suit and not a grudging passive-aggressive offer -- Bella is making it very clear to Jessica that this isn't going to damage their friendship and that Bella isn't going to be bad-mouthing Jessica around school the next day. And then, Bella actually notices that Jessica is subdued and thinks long and hard about asking her about it -- she decides that Jessica would probably prefer not to share with Bella, and whether wrong or right, this shows that Bella is actually considering things from another person's point of view. You know, like a real friend would do. I think that's awesome.

The fact also, that Bella can speak up and reassure Mike that he'll "have a lot of fun with Jessica" in a bright, enthusiastic voice is also a great thing from my perspective. Bella's enthusiasm should leave absolutely no room to question whether or not the news disappoints her, and it goes a long way towards confirming my beliefs that Bella has been sending off strong Not Interested signals and Mike has simply been ignoring them. This passage, for me, puts Bella in a very sympathetic "wow, that could have been me in high school" light, and I like to call those out when we see them.

   "Well . . ." He floundered as he examined my smile, clearly not happy with my response. "I told her I had to think about it."
   "Why would you do that?" I let disapproval color my tone, though I was relieved he hadn't given her an absolute no.
    His face was bright red as he looked down again. Pity shook my resolve.

But... I don't really like this.

First of all, it doesn't really feel like Bella. I can imagine that her resolve might be shaken, but in my mind her resolve would be challenged most by the uncomfortableness of the situation: if Mike can't pick up from the obvious cues that Bella is sending out that she is Not Interested, then more direct action will have to be taken, and direct negative action seems fairly anathema to Bella's character.

Pity, on the other hand, is not something I associate with Bella, and I don't mean that in a negative way. She's passive, yes, and she often doesn't like to voice her feelings beyond slamming the odd car door here and there, and she likes to appear to go along with the rules in order to keep the peace, but she's not usually motivated by pity. The only really piteous thing I can think of her doing so far is giving Renee and Baseball Phil marital space, and I wouldn't even really characterize that as pity. Sensitive, yes. Piteous, no.

It's probably a mistake to harp too much on Bella's pity here, as well as the guilt that she's about to experience in turning down Mike. But if we take it as truth, we have to add a new layer to Bella's personality. I've already argued that Bella is laboring under the expectations of being a Good Girl, and I almost have to wonder if this pity is imposed on her by an internal voice that This is how you are supposed to feel. She should be relieved at being almost rid of Mike... and all personality indicators thus far leads me to believe that she would feel that relief... but she doesn't. She feels pity and guilt.

Why? Is it a simple function of the society that surrounds us, that Good Girls don't turn disappoint other people's expectations? But if that were so, where was that inner societal sensor several years ago when Bella was patiently explaining to Charlie that if he wanted to see her for the summer, he was going to have to buy a plan ticket to California? Is it some kind of guilt based on her interpretation of her parent's relationship, where Bella feels she's following in Renee's footsteps if she breaks a man's heart? But if that's the case, why does Bella seem so scornful of Charlie's residual love for Renee? (Or am I interpreting that apparent scorn incorrectly?) There's so many layers here, but I can't seem to reconcile them.

   "I was wondering if . . . well, if you might be planning to ask me."
   I paused for a moment, hating the wave of guilt that swept through me. But I saw, from the corner of my eye, Edward's head tilt reflexively in my direction.
   "Mike, I think you should tell her yes," I said.
   "Did you already ask someone?" Did Edward notice how Mike's eyes flickered in his direction?

And now I take back what I said about not disliking Mike. I don't like Mike. It could not be more clear that Bella is Not Interested, but he's pushing this issue like Bella owes him some kind of explanation. It's rude and utterly unfair to Bella; Bella is being clear and straightforward while trying not to be insulting or cruel.

Of particular annoyance to me is Mike's demand to know if Bella has asked someone else: news flash, Mike, it's none of your business. The important thing you need to know is that Bella doesn't want to go to the dance with you; it doesn't matter if she's chosen another boy from school to take with her or if she's a lesbian or if she's not interested in the whole lot of you. Not. Your. Business.

Since Bella has not had any kind of relationship with Mike except "sitting at the same cafeteria table together in a group" and "letting him carry her books because it's too awkward to make a scene", she doesn't owe him an explanation and the only appropriate answer here is, "Thank you, I'm sorry for any misunderstanding, I hope we can all still be friends." Or something. My point here is that I'm sad that "demanding stalker boy" is apparently the template that every boy from Forks is cast from. *sigh*

   "No," I assured him. "I'm not going to the dance at all."
   "Why not?" Mike demanded.
   I didn't want to get into the safety hazards that dancing presented, so I quickly made new plans.
   "I'm going to Seattle that Saturday," I explained. I needed to get out of town anyway -- it was suddenly the perfect time to go.

And while normally I would be frustrated with Bella for pulling this excuse out of the air and thereby not being done with Mike 100% once and for all because he can still fantasize that maybe they can get together after the dance, I'm going to give her a pass on the passive-aggressive behavior for once because I feel like Mike is being intensely aggressive here with all his demanding.

Sure, Bella could say "Mike, I'm just not that into you, I'm sorry," but I'm also aware that she's in a precarious position as the new girl turning down the wealthy, attractive, popular boy and there's a lot of potential for danger here. I mean, I'd like to assume that Mr. Banner would step in if Mike got out of line, but considering he doesn't notice Edward "Killing-Me-Softly-With-His-Eyes" Cullen, I'm not hopeful that the Forks teaching personnel have any formal training in violence prevention.

   "Can't you go some other weekend?"
   "Sorry, no," I said. "So you shouldn't make Jess wait any longer -- it's rude."

...almost as rude as making me have this conversation.

And now, credit where credit is due: "Sorry, no," in this context is pretty full of win for me. Yay for Bella for being direct even though it's not easy for her to do so.

   "Yeah, you're right," he mumbled, and turned, dejected, to walk back to his seat. I closed my eyes and pressed my fingers to my temples, trying to push the guilt and sympathy out of my head. Mr. Banner began talking. I sighed and opened my eyes.
   And Edward was staring at me curiously, that same, familiar edge of frustration even more distinct now in his black eyes.

I realize that Edward is supposed to be frustrated here because he's straining to read Bella's mind and all he's getting is a blank where he usually expects thoughts to be, but all I can think in context of this sentence is that Edward is frustrated because if Bella doesn't want to be with the angry, demanding, controlling, attractive jerk in her Biology class, then what chance does Edward have?

223 comments:

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Nathaniel said...

"There's so many layers here, but I can't seem to reconcile them. "

My personal vote is for personality incoherence. But that's just me.

"if Mike can't pick up from the obvious cues that Bella is sending out that she is Not Interested, then more direct action will have to be taken, and direct negative action seems fairly anathema to Bella's character."

I wonder whether all the effed up attitudes about men and relationships come from the author's personal experience. Have all the men in her life been so off puttingly aggressive in their attempts to win affection?

brjun said...

Have all the men in her life been so off puttingly aggressive in their attempts to win affection?

Edward freaks me out a little, it is true!

But, I don't think that we can put Mike into that category just yet. High School dating is super awkward! The few experiences that I had were super awkward, anyway, and the phenomenon of 'boys who just cannot take a hint' was ... probably exacerbated by my inability to be blunt about it. That's not to say that Mike is reasonable, but this conversation rings close enough to the truth that I don't think that it is that abnormal.

Twilight is about things being taken to 100%. Edward is 100% dreamy, ostensibly. Mike is ... 100% the obnoxious clingy nerd who won't get it when you try to tell them to go away. In real life, unwanted suitors are usually not that bad -- but if you are a Good Girl, I bet you worry that they might be and will ask awkward questions and not let you off the hook until you have to go to Seattle to get away from them.

I don't think that Meyer had to have encountered someone as aggressive as Mike in High School. It just seems like fairly typical teenage behavior taken to ridiculous extremes.

Edward is frustrated because if Bella doesn't want to be with the angry, demanding, controlling, attractive jerk in her Biology class, then what chance does Edward have?

That made me laugh out loud!

Kit Whitfield said...

I wonder whether all the effed up attitudes about men and relationships come from the author's personal experience. Have all the men in her life been so off puttingly aggressive in their attempts to win affection?

As Bella should say to Mike: that's none of our business.

Ana Mardoll said...

I agree. I think any questions about Meyer's experiences, while coming from a good place, are probably focusing on a single tree and missing a forest, by which I mean perhaps the real question is "why is our society not universally denouncing this behavior?"

If this scene played out in Real Life, would Mike's friends gently take him aside later and explain, Dude Not Cool? If that seems unlikely, then the question that interests me is why our society tolerates this behavior or excuses it as cluelessness.

Tl;dr: Twilight is a product of our society far more than it is of any one author. What does it say about our society? Today it's saying to me that our society supports Mike's "right" to harass Bella because he's carried some books for her.

jill heather said...

There's a difference between not denouncing and actively promoting, too, and I think the Twilight books actively promote it. (From Edward, not Mike.) So it's okay to be a pushy aggressive asshole, as long as you are the True Love.

Ana Mardoll said...

That's true, Jill, and you're right that I phrased that badly. I was trying to coney that the focus should be on society and why the books are popular (something we can and should ask) as opposed to being on Meyer and why she wrote them this way (something we can't know), but I picked my words poorly. Thank you. :)

DavidCheatham said...

Heh, with the role reversal of women asking men out, we've gone from the 'Women must justify why they rejected someone offer of a date ' to almost satirical 'Women must justify why they didn't ask someone out'.

Mike, the fact that girls were supposed to ask out boys was a way to avoid the awkwardness of you asking your friend out and getting rejected. It was a way for high school boys to know who was interested in them _without_ asking, which let me tell you, is a gift from heaven for the average teenager. Hey, look, that girl you might be interested in doesn't appear interested back, and you learned that without an 'official rejection'. Meanwhile, that other girl did ask you out, and perhaps you should get with her before she gets too annoyed at your delay.

But you had to try really really hard to get rejected anyway. 'Lucky' for you, Bella avoids confrontation of any sort. (In quotes because, in the long term, Mike, you'd probably be better off being outright rejected. Although I don't know the future.)

Nathaniel said...

My apologies. I do not mean any offense from my speculations.

Dav said...

The last line is win.

Side note: every time I read about Mr. Banner, I have a startling mental image of the Hulk as Bella's biology teacher.

Ana Mardoll said...

@Nathaniel, no harm done. It's a mistake *I* make all the time. It's just so easy to focus on that Meyer tree over the whole societal forest. :)

And thank you for being so polite. I swear, ya'll are all the nicest people in the whole world. :)

Ana Mardoll said...

Also,

@DavidCheatham, I certainly thought that was the point of a "girls choice" dance. And you highlight an interesting point: Mike has been avoiding asking Bella out all this time, presumably because he fears confrontation and rejection... but apparently he doesn't fear it ENOUGH to not be harassing to her here. Interesting juxtaposition!

Rainicorn said...

I do have a fair amount of sympathy for Bella in this situation. When I was about sixteen, I became friends with a boy who I enjoyed talking with a lot - we were both kind of nerdy and awkward - and when he asked me out I found it incredibly embarrassing. Like Bella, I didn't have much experience with boys being interested in me, and we had a very awkward couple of weeks where he kept trying to ask me out and I kept trying to say no without using the n-word. Looking back, I'm not sure if he was being aggressively persistent or if I was not being clear enough (I suspect a little of column A, a little of column B).

(Of course, I had a whole other level of concern going on, which was: why don't I want to date this perfectly nice boy with whom I get on very well? It took the rest of the school year and a couple more similarly awkward encounters before I realized I would never want to date perfectly nice boys with whom I get on very well. Ah, being young and closeted...)

depizan said...

Pity might not be quite the right emotion, but I can relate to Bella's discomfort at having to tell Mike she's not interested in him. I find that kind of thing really difficult, because I don't like causing pain to other people. (And because I can barely manage the social dance of becoming friends with someone. Sorting out that someone's interested in more than that and turning them down is extremely stressful.)

This is one of the better parts of the book, though. Bella's actions and emotions seem to be on the same page and she's treating people as people.

Nathaniel said...

Similar to my question before, but more general: Are intensely religious and conservative parts of the country more likely to have boys who behave like Mike?

Ana Mardoll said...

Similar to my question before, but more general: Are intensely religious and conservative parts of the country more likely to have boys who behave like Mike?

It's a good question, whether conservative attitudes and conservative religious attitudes (which I will parse here because we do have a lot of liberal Christians and liberal Wiccans and liberal religious folks in general on the board, and it's clear from your context what you meant :)) contribute to the tolerance of this sort of behavior.

I'm tempted to hazard a yes, based on my own anecdata, but I'd be interested in hearing other peoples' take.

In my own experience, I vividly recall people in my church explaining God's "chosen husband" as someone who basically pitches up into your life one day and will not go away. "I believe that God wants us to be together" was a statement that was taken seriously, although not to the point of abandoning all common sense. Still, there was a touching measure of trust there: if someone honestly believed he was meant for you, you were supposed to go do some soul searching and see if you weren't being told the same thing.

I will say, in fairness, that this probably went both ways regardless of gender. But I do think that the inappropriate pushiness of "this relationship is meant to be and it's *going* to happen so just let me get on with carrying your books or bringing you cupcakes and after a few months of this we'll be together by default" was something that was somehow... not condoned, but accepted. Normalized.

Whether this was more likely to happen in my conservative religious culture, however, I can't say.

Ana Mardoll said...

I will also add that in college I ran across the "I saw her first" mentality when I dated a young man who had to ask his roommate (who was the brother of a shared friend) for permission to date me first. Because the roommate had known me marginally longer than the other young man.

I do understand the concept of not letting a romantic relationship damage a friendship. However, this was particularly infuriating to me because the two men in question were not close friends, and I was NOT interested in the roommate and never would be. His "permission" for the young man to date me was, well, insulting. It was framed not as a friendship thing (i.e., "we can still be cool even if you date the girl I like") but rather as an ownership thing (i.e., "I saw her first, but we're friends so you can have her").

The whole thing left a very bad taste in my mouth and reminds me a bit of what Mike is doing here when he shoots a look at Edward. Yes, Mike, you saw her first; no, it doesn't give you "dibs".

hapax said...

TW: NEGLECT, MENTAL ILLNESS, SUICIDE

If you find the lack of support for a clearly depressed teenager infuriating in this book, I recommend having sedatives on hand when you get to NEW MOON. Seriously. The teacher, parent, friends, random acquaintance FAIL in that book (especially in the infamous "blank page" section) probably would be considered legally actionable child abuse.

Now that I think about it, it would be perfectly possible to make sense of the first three books in the series* as the memoir of an increasingly depressed (or more likely bipolar) teen becoming more and more disassociated from reality, retreating into her fantasies, until she eventually commits suicide.

And now I've depressed myself. It's sort of like the Fed Ex arrow; now that I've seen it, I can't un-see it. :-(

*Excluding BREAKING DAWN. Nothing can really makes sense of BREAKING DAWN.

Ana Mardoll said...

@hapax, I'm both looking forward to and dreading New Moon. I think Charlie at least urges Bella to get professional care? Of course, if she's still a minor, I don't understand why the choice is left 100% to her... :(

Silver Adept said...

Strangely, in this particular section, Bella actually behaves like a normal teenager, or even, daresay, an adult.

With Mike, I think it's because Jessica asked him out that he's even asking Bella at this point. Having managed to avoid the Bad End of Absolute Rejection, now he finally has the confidence to ask if he's gotten a possibility at the Good End. Because if not Bella, then he'll accept Jessica's offer and feel pretty good about himself.

Mike had better hope that Jessica and Bella don't talk to each other as BFFs, or Jessica might turn around and withdraw her offer after she learns that she was second fiddle to someone else.

To turn to the questions raised in the comments: conservative and conservative religious societies can turn out a lot of people like Mike - but then again, so can more liberal societies, depending on where you sit on the social order in high school. While it's unlikely that anyone is being taught that they are God's Gift To Women and should just be able to get anyone they want, well, there may be some influences going on in those societies that subtly elevate men above women in terms of importance and power. The Men Do Things, The Women Cook For Them, or a bit of an emphasis on "Wives be submissive to your husbands" without the corresponding "Husbands, take care of your wives." Perhaps The Men go watch football together while The Women make them snacks and tidy up the house. Something like that. Casual sexism that comes from "Traditional family values" or "Good Christian Living", however they want to characterize it.

If Mike has been raised in that family, he might be having some issues of his own where he's not being Manly Enough for the value system that he's being raised in, he resents the top of the social heap, with all those jerk jocks getting women fawning all over them, and so he's decided he's going to Show Them All by being such a nice guy to the new girl, who doesn't know how much of a nerd he's characterized as, that she'll fall for him and he'll have his own trophy to display.

As anyone who's dealt with a Nice Guy like that knows, that particular tactic does not produce the fruitful results that the Nice Guy is hoping for.

@Rainicorn: As someone on the other side of that kind of idea, I will say that I wrecked a friendship by telling that friend that she was pretty and that I would like to date her. In her defense, she had sworn off men for a bit at the time I mentioned it, and so even with the caveat of "I realize you're not interested in anyone right now, but if you ever are again, I would enjoy dating you."...well, I never said that WIS was my strong stat. (Sometimes I worry that it's my dump stat.)

So, I have a little sympathy for Mike in not being forward about his interests. I might, in fact, have sympathy for him believing that Nice Guyism is the way forward, because high school is hell and nothing like the Real World, but my empathy runs out for him if he continues to try and be the Nice Guy after Bella has said no and chases Edward. At some point, one must resign to being a friend, or to moving on. Setting yourself up as the person to pick up the pieces when your love falls apart is unhealthy for everyone involved - because when she takes your advice and finds someone else, It's Not Going To Be You, despite what the movies want you to believe.

...and I think I'll stop there. I might be repeating myself.

Ana Mardoll said...

Mike is ... 100% the obnoxious clingy nerd who won't get it when you try to tell them to go away

he resents the top of the social heap, with all those jerk jocks getting women fawning all over them


I should pop up here and note that Mike is the attractive one (even Bella says so!) with the relatively well-to-do parents and he's good enough at sports to cover for Bella in gym.

Eric is the nerdy "chess club type". Tyler has been given no personality at all, to the point where his role was essentially cut from the movie. (And used as an opportunity to throw a Token Black Guy into the film, IIRC. *sigh*)

DavidCheatham said...

I will also add that in college I ran across the "I saw her first" mentality when I dated a young man who had to ask his roommate (who was the brother of a shared friend) for permission to date me first. Because the roommate had known me literally an hour longer than the other young man.

From what I understand, that's not how it's supposed to work. I do not have an official copy of the 'bro code', but there are two somewhat unrelated rules:

Firstly, you ask before dating a friend's ex. This applies to all genders and sexual orientations, and is for two reasons. 1) the friend might still have feelings, and resent you for 'ruining their chance' to get back together, and 2) the friend might actively dislike or, worse, still like the ex, making joint social gatherings that include both of them very very awkward.

I think most people accept this rule as reasonable...if people you date have weird interactions with your friends, that's moderately annoying to all concerned. That is not to say the ex can actually deny you 'the right' to date someone, but it's a very good idea to at least try to get permission, if only to find out if the two actually are sociable at this point.

The other rule is a man-only rule, closer to what you talk about. The rule is: If you are actively planning to ask someone out, you can call 'dibs' for a limited amount of time. And the planner has to announce he's going to ask her out, or in some way indicate it. ('Limited time' is somewhat vague there.) And this rule doesn't have anything to do with the woman being friends with anyone.

I've heard of women getting upset when learning of this rule, but it's to stop two men from realizing they both wish to ask a woman out, and racing up to her and trying to be first to ask her out, which I think we all know would be very annoying and a little scary to said woman. (Men are not totally insensitive to women.) Whoever first indicates they wish to ask her out gets to go first, unless they chicken out or take too long.

Please note I know of this second rule only secondhand, I've never actually seen it in action. But that is how it was explained to me.

But I don't know of any rule where you have to ask someone permission just because he knows a woman. That's a little idiotic and offensive. Men do not need to give permission for others to date their female friends.

Well, unless they themselves have decided to ask the woman out first, and the other friend knows this, so it falls under the rule above. But 'dibs' is supposed to be 'I will do it as soon as I finish my drink, collect myself, and walk over there' or 'as soon as I see her at the coffee house tomorrow', not a card you can hold for what sounds like at least a week and maybe more.

JohnKnl said...

But I don't know of any rule where you have to ask someone permission just because he knows a woman. That's a little idiotic and offensive. Men do not need to give permission for others to date their female friends.

Yeah, I've never heard of that one either. How does tha even work? Does a man have to track down every other man that the woman has ever met? How would that even work if the women was bisexual? Poor Mike would spend hours hacking into the class roster for each of Bella's classes and wandering around Forks, clearing things with every single person Bella might have spoken to. (And that's assuming that he doesn't also have to 'check in' with people that Bella knew from back home with Renee and Phil.)

Honestly, I don't think that this particular aspect is based in real life. I think it's based in something in Meyer's head -- that is, she knows that Edward is Bella's one true love and that anyone else who wants to be with Bella has to go through him first. She didn't stop to think that the Edward/Bella thing isn't something that would be obvious to Mike or Eric or anyone else in the same way that certain other writers didn't stop to think that PMD Christianity wouldn't be obvious to every single person in the world.

It's just another example of characters reading the back of the book.

Silver Adept said...

Ack. Readers, please replace "resents the top of the social heap" with "wants to flaunt his status at the top of the social heap" , and then follow it with "by charming the pants off the new girl with his Nice Guy moves and then adding her to his trophy list of bedded Forks women". The rest of the post, including the bit about not being Manly Enough, stands unchanged.

Thanks, Ana.

Kit Whitfield said...

I've heard of women getting upset when learning of this rule, but it's to stop two men from realizing they both wish to ask a woman out, and racing up to her and trying to be first to ask her out, which I think we all know would be very annoying and a little scary to said woman.

It does, however, run the risk of her getting committed to the guy she quite-likes because they guy she really-likes was waiting his turn, leading her to assume he wasn't interested. Which seems unfair to her, to say the least.

Ana Mardoll said...

It does, however, run the risk of her getting committed to the guy she quite-likes because they guy she really-likes was waiting his turn, leading her to assume he wasn't interested. Which seems unfair to her, to say the least.

And feeds the "girls only go for assertive guys and not Nice Guys" problem. Seems like the fairest-and-fastest-and-easiest thing to do would be to have the two friends say, "Hey, Mary, Bob and I both really would like to go out with you, and we wanted to let you know in case you were interested in dating one or both of us. We'll be over there now so you don't feel pressured to respond right away."

Kit Whitfield said...

Yep. Frankly, if two guys tried to pull that taking-turns thing on me, I'd rather not go out with either of them.

Nathaniel said...

Such logic rarely enters into the dating sphere.

Will Wildman said...

My experience when two guys both wanted to ask the same girl out was that... we both asked her out. Independently, no discussions or negotiations or whatever - I actually didn't find out that they had dated until a year later. (She wasn't particularly interested in either of us, ultimately.) Is it generally expected that saying yes to a first date means forswearing all other possible dates until and unless things are formally broken off with the first person? Is the idea of 'we're dating but we haven't agreed to exclusively date each other' that abnormal? (Admittedly, I would have had trouble with it in high school, but if high-school-me was socially average, civilisation would die out.)

jill heather said...

The "don't ask out the person your friend is crushing on, especially not without mentioning it to them first" thing isn't for guys only (though for women, it's generally "don't flirt with or hint at", and sometimes "don't accept a date from"), and though any one person can take it too far, I think it's a nice and generous way to act towards your friends.

I think asking why any one book is written in a certain way is interesting. Not to ask "So, what is wrong with Meyer?", but "What was the book trying to do that it chose to promote this set of values?" My memory from the books -- I never read the last one and only listened to the others on public transit, so it wasn't what you call a close read -- is that it didn't appear to be well enough written or thought out that the values it suggested were a deliberate, coherent choice, but rather that they reflected the values of the author (which are common in society at large, and whihc is part of why these books are popular). There's not much more to say about Stephenie Meyer as a person based on this -- she wrote a series that pushes what I consider to be harmful and regressive ideas, but not new ideas, or uncommon ideas.

Ana Mardoll said...

Is it generally expected that saying yes to a first date means forswearing all other possible dates until and unless things are formally broken off with the first person? Is the idea of 'we're dating but we haven't agreed to exclusively date each other' that abnormal?

It was for me as a youth (and, indeed, now), but I'm a monogamist in almost all things, including dating and preferred brand of canned spaghetti product. I always order the same thing from every restaurant we go to (the same thing per restaurant, not the same thing across all restaurants.) This year I actually came to grips with the fact that I can like both "hand tossed" AND "deep dish" pizza crust and actually alternate depending on moods. It was a heady realization.

I think the "rule" makes sense in the context of a really deep friendship and a really intense crush... for instance, I didn't mind in the Spiderman movie when the boys had the conversation because of the way it's presented. However, it's important to remember that while you may be preserving an important friendship (important!) you may also be denying a choice to the Person Of Affection which is also important.

jill heather said...

However, it's important to remember that while you may be preserving an important friendship (important!) you may also be denying a choice to the Person Of Affection which is also important.

The person can ask out someone if they (she) are (is) really interested, and honestly, it's not incumbent on every man to ask out every woman that he is slightly interested in so that she has her choice, just as it's not incumbent on every woman to accept every man.

Amarie said...

Honestly, I read the pity and the guilt as yet another cornerstone of the religious subtext. If I’m not mistaken, one of the main commandments/guidelines/rules of Mormonism is that you must get married and have children. It’s one of the sacred actions that you can do to get salvation and acceptance into heaven.

For this theory, again, I’m going with the assumption that Bella is an idealized self-insert for Stephenie Meyer.

That being said, it kind of makes sense for Mike and Bella’s interaction to be colored with guilt and pity. Overall, this is a violation to the sanctity and spiritual importance of marriage; by turning down Mike, Bella is prolonging the failure of not finding and securing a mate on both sides. By that extension, she is denying them both eternal salvation and acceptance into heaven. Ultimately, it’s ludicrous and unacceptable to the point that it’s sinful. As a result, Bella [rightfully] feels guilty for not allowing both of them the necessary steps (dating) to fulfill that duty. Meanwhile, she feels pity for Mike, a male, because he was denied a chance to become a true man by having a woman whose existence he has the right to reshape and define. Instead, he has to go with his ‘second choice’ (Jessica) and as a man is all powerful in this patriarchal system, a man should never have anything less than what he immediately desires. Meanwhile, a woman should never be denying a man because a woman’s place in the world is *defined* by a man. Bella’s rejection of him violates those rules a thousand times over and because she’s a Good Girl, guilt and pity are inevitable.

Ana Mardoll said...

The person can ask out someone if they (she) are (is) really interested, and honestly, it's not incumbent on every man to ask out every woman that he is slightly interested in so that she has her choice, just as it's not incumbent on every woman to accept every man.

True. In the context of my anecdata, it was made clear to me that the "rule" would have prevented the "non-dibs" party from saying yes when I made my interest clear. But I see now that I didn't clarify that in my post. I agree that if the "rule" is just with regards to the asking and does not affect being asked, then the Person of Affection still has personal choice between the Dibs/Non-Dibs parties.

I want this all drawn up in legalese. :D

Ana Mardoll said...

If I’m not mistaken, one of the main commandments/guidelines/rules of Mormonism is that you must get married and have children.

I cannot speak for mainstream Mormonism, and therefore will not, but I have read quite a few biographies written by women who fled FLDS marriages. In those cases, the "God has told me that we are meant to be together" was frequently used by the men, their families, or the prophets in the community to push the girls into unhappy marriages.

Indeed, this could be seen as a POSITIVE push-back against that in Twilight: Bella feels guilt (she's a good girl! Not trying to break the rules!) but says "no" anyway. She does so because she doesn't want Mike and she does want Edward. In that light, the passage is a celebration of female choice in an oppressive environment.

This is now one of my favorite passages in the series. "Sorry, no" is really quite a good thing all around.

DavidCheatham said...

You'd think so, but in real life, men do not walk up to women and just propose some sort of hypothetical date, and walk away waiting for the women to get back to them. I'm sure when you wrote that you were thinking 'So that women don't have to make excuses for rejecting them.', but what usually comes across is is 'Too lazy or insecure to actually really ask women out, and thinks they will ask him out instead.'.

It might be nice if the world worked that other way, where everyone could just signal 'You are someone I am interested in dating, so if you feel the same way, ask me out.' and it would all work out...but it does not. Women do not actually respond back, ever. The sole exception are events specifically where women ask men out.

It's not just women who have stupid social expectations they must meet WRT dating. There's a whole mythology about 'Women don't date nice guys', which is mostly stupid, somewhat sexist, and I think has been gone over here. But there is at least tiny part of it true: Women don't date guys who can't be courageous enough for two minutes to ask them out.

Now, both men could just fully ask her out at once...but that gets somewhat awkward. (Although, as is pointed out, presumably there's no assumption of exclusivity at this point.)

bekabot said...

"Side note: every time I read about Mr. Banner, I have a startling mental image of the Hulk as Bella's biology teacher."

Bruce Banner is spending a couple of years in Forks on self-imposed furlough. He found the place while on a fishing trip and decided to settle in. He likes it there: everything seems specifically tailored not to tax his patience or his limitations. He teaches high-school Biology because that's a subject he could walk through in his sleep. The weather is beautifully moderate (S.A.D. does not bother Bruce Banner) and the people aren't nosy (oh man are they ever not nosy). The police chief's attentions seem otherwise engaged. And, should any mischance occur and should he turn all big and green, all he has to do is scoot out into the woods and lay low. There's lots of camouflage out there b/c plenty of things in the woods are big and green. (He might have some trouble explaining why he went AWOL to his superiors at work, but a school system which accepts the Cullens' ridiculous excuses should pose no challenge to a physicist and a genius.)

Needless to say, vampires don't worry the Hulk.

Amarie said...

Umm…I don’t know, Ana. This passage still doesn’t read as positive to me for two reasons:

1.)Bella feels guilt and pity in the first place for *someone that she didn’t even like to begin with*. Now, in different contexts, I could understand guilt. For example, I would actually advocate for Bella to feel as such if she told Mike that she’s going to Seattle that weekend…and then turned up at the dance with another guy. Or, she should feel guilty if she told him that she *would* go with him…and then purposely stand him up to make a point. Then, she can feel guilty and I won’t only understand that, but I’ll cheer it on. Mike certainly isn’t in the right in his aggressive pursuit of Bella, but that doesn’t that Bella would have to stoop to such immature and conniving measures; she can and *is* trying to be the better person here.

But the text clearly-albeit passive aggressively-states that Bella doesn’t care for Mike all that much. Furthermore, Mike has given the readers a reason not to like him along with Bella because he’s nine kinds of rude and intrusive. Granted, I’ll admit that she doesn’t have much of a reason to dislike him in the beginning save for her own neuroticism. Yet, as time goes on, we see that she *does* have a valid reason to dislike him and as a result, honestly not care about his feelings anymore than he seems to care about hers. There should be no guilt from Bella; awkwardness and slight discomfort should be the limit, in my view.


2.) The text and the author *advocate* for Bella’s guilt and pity. If you read Midnight Sun (Edward’s version of Twilight), you see that this is the part where Edward says Bella Swan is ‘Good’. I repeat: the fact that she feels guilty about turning down a suitor that she doesn’t even want to be friends with means that she is a Good Person. There is no part in the text-in either Midnight Sun or Twilight-that denote Bella’s human right to [politely] decline a suitor. Especially if that suitor is all but objectifying her. Time and time again, the audience is told through the context that Bella Swan should feel guilty if she doesn’t keep and adhere to the Good Girl’s complaint façade.


Overall, I suppose what I’m trying to say that, for me, it’s not enough that Bella says ‘no’. Because the context clearly states that Bella just Broke The Rules and therefore should Feel Guilty. Now, if she *did* feel guilty and her author set out to change that (i.e, character development and awareness of constricting gender roles), then I wouldn’t have any problem with it. Stephenie Meyer sees that young girls are pressured to always say ‘yes’, shows it in Bella, and accordingly changes the character’s attitude to speak up against the issue. Fine. Perfect. But that’s not what we’re reading here nor is it what we’ll ever read in the entire series.

For me, having a female protagonist say ‘no’ to an unwanted suitor just isn’t enough. I want and need her to say ‘no’ to the guilt, too.

Ana Mardoll said...

Women do not actually respond back, ever.

David, there are a lot of people on this blog with unique and different personalities. You need to work on not making these broad, general, sweeping statement about what women/men do, and when, and how, and with what exceptions. At the very least, please say "in my experience" or something to indicate you don't think this isn't the unvarnished Truth that you are sharing with us, because if you think that you are wrong. Thank you.

chris the cynic said...

Women do not actually respond back, ever.

Even with a total lack of real world experience I'm pretty sure this blanket statement is false. Women are a pretty diverse group and you haven't met the vast majority of them. Even amoung those you have met it is entirely possible and indeed probable that you are not aware of everything they have done, ever.

Ana Mardoll said...

bekabot, that was wonderful. I love it as a fanfic/cross-over idea. :D

Amarie, well, I guess I was reading the text as descriptive ("Bella did feel guilty") instead of prescriptive ("Bella should feel guilty"). I feel guilty about a lot of things that I shouldn't feel guilty about, so the fact that Bella didn't give into the guilt was significant for me. However, if "Midnight Sun" is using this as a Teaching Moment, then... yeah, that's not good. I agree that Bella shouldn't have to feel guilty, and if Edward thinks she should, then that's a major problem.

chris the cynic said...

Needless to say, vampires don't worry the Hulk.

Perhaps, but a (sparkling) vampire Hulk should worry us all.

bekabot said...

"Perhaps, but a (sparkling) vampire Hulk should worry us all."

Ooooohh, green and shiny!! Like the biggest and most ferocious Christmas tree ornament evah!!

But, seriously, the vampires would have to be able to get close enough in to bite him. All Hulk would have to do is whopp down a few big trees with vampires in 'em to give the vampires something to think about other than biting the Hulk. And then, remember the vampires' stony constitution. If you're constructed something like a living statue, and you're facing a strong enough opponent, your consistency is a disadvantage: all he as to do is hit you with enough force and you'll shatter. ("Hulk smash!!") Plus which, the Hulk's physiology is not the same as human physiology: I'm not certain vampire venom would effect it the same way. Maybe the vampires could try to drain the Hulk, but he's darn large and would take a lot of draining (like a big angry green swamp). That having been said, my own opinion (FWIW) is that the Hulk would have more to fear from the vampires' speed than from their numbers or their strength, so that might be an interesting avenue to explore. But Forks is loaded with targets more tempting than Mr. Banner, so why would the vampires want to pick on him, especially if they've got some inkling about his alter ego? Why would they want to risk it?

Kit Whitfield said...

David, did you just tell a woman what women are like? If you're not familiar with the word 'mansplaining', you might want to look it up.

bekabot said...

Don't get me wrong, though. I think the Hulk's/Bruce Banner's getting accidentally turned is a great idea for a story, though I'm not certain how it would happen. Off the record, I'd like to suggest "So I Asked Myself, What Could Go Wrong?" as a title.

chris the cynic said...

My first thought was vampire hulk as emerald, but a giant translucent vampire is even more absurd than most things in Twilight (though not all things, witness school not being canceled on van day, for example.) A quick search for "green stone" makes me think that vampire Hulk should be malachite.

bekabot said...

That's not a bad idea, except that I looked up the malachite lore and found that malachite is supposed to break into pieces when danger is nigh, so there might be some unintended consequences involved with a malachite Hulk. But then (the upside is that) malachite is supposed to be able to act as an early-warning system for exactly the same reason. And then there is a sense in which Bruce Banner does "break into pieces" anyway, so that if the breakage were to be taken as a metaphorical and not as literal, the malachite connection would hold good.

Amarie said...

Oh, no! It’s alright, Ana. I was simply stating that in my eyes, the context of Bella’s ‘no’ is one of the more anti-feminist moments. But, I can certainly see what you’re saying when it comes to feeling guilty about that which you *shouldn’t* feel guilty. Personally, I *am* one of those people that have a hard time saying no, even when I know that it’s in my rights. You and I are just the same in that respect, haha.

But when someone generally has a problem saying ‘no’, I tend to think that they’re very, very sympathetic and, for whatever reason, just hasn’t quite learned how to balance that (I don’t think it’s exactly a *bad* thing to be so sympathetic because, in my experience, it’s usually not that hard to correct, depending on the situations). And/or their environment raised them to be so complacent.

For the first reason, we just haven’t seen much evidence of Bella being so sympathetic to other people’s feelings. If anything, we see her *avoiding* situations where she’ll have to consider and deal with other people’s feelings, more often than not. So, for me, her guilt just doesn’t work in that light. It *does* work in the ‘Good Girls Are Raised To Be Complacent’ light, and that’s where I see the problems.

Aaaaaaaand…here is the link to the manuscript/rough draft of Midnight Sun, if anyone is interested:

http://www.stepheniemeyer.com/pdf/midnightsun_chapter1.pdf



I make *no* joke that even when I was a die-hard-would-have-married-Edward-Cullen-rabid-Twilight-fan…I couldn’t get through most of it.

Also...I don't care how dangerous it is. I don't care how insane I would be. Nor do I care that Betty Ross would kill me....
If I E.V.E.R saw a pretty, sparkling Hulk, that big guy is getting a fan girl's hug. It might only be around his leg or his finger...but by Marvel, he's getting a hug. :D

DavidCheatham said...

Uh, no, I just told a woman how women respond to date requests from men. Which, obviously, men observe exactly as much as women. Presumably, both genders are present in equal ratio at that. (This post will be utterly ignoring homosexual pairings, which operates in a social structure I know nothing about.)

But I am slightly baffled as to why this needs explaining. Yes, men do know better than women the 'best' way to ask women out, and to get them to say yes...because men have actually spend large amounts of time attempting to figure this out and attempting new ways.

Even if we ignore that and assume that women spend a lot of time trying to figure out how they should be asked out (1), men still have a much wider catalog of different women responding to their request. Men have noticed how multiple women respond, whereas women just have themselves and a few stories friends have told them. (And the latter tend to be statistically poor because they're the 'weird' ones that stick in women's minds.)

Thus men can make actual determinations based on experience. Whereas as far as any individual woman knows, what works on her will not work on anyone else. And this is assuming the women are perfect objectivity about themselves, whereas there is a lot of self-delusion in the dating sphere...it's pretty easy for someone, man or woman, to delude themselves about why or why not they choose to date someone.

But men can't delude themselves into thinking they successfully got a date if they were rejected. In the end, men are the scientists of asking women out. (Although it is a science filled halfway with superstition and rules of thumb and, yes, a few sexist assumptions.)

In fact, women explaining how men 'should' behave to get a date is, uh, womansplaining. Men have decades of cultural trial and error at asking women out, and it's a bit presumptuous to come in and say 'No, you're doing it all wrong, we know better than you'. When was the last time you were a man and asked a women out? (2)

I appreciate the help, I understand the context in which it was given, it might, in fact be helpful so please continue to make suggestions, but don't go around criticizing how we do something we've spent quite a lot of time figuring out, and you've decided we're all wrong with absolutely no research.

Watch out, next time I'll mansplain how to pee standing up.

1) Which seems wrong, but I don't know how women think. Women, when was the last time you sat in a bar and looked at man and said 'If he asks me out by casually walking up and asking for my number, I'll give it to him, but if he buy me a drink and asks me out right now, I'll say no.'? Because men do think about that, they do sit there and try to figure out the best sort of approach, the best sort of conversation, etc, etc.

2) That was sarcastic, but if someone actually was a man and asked women out, and is now a woman, I have no problem with her criticizing how men do it. And if any lesbians, our sisters-in-arms in asking women out, have comments about what works for them, please, go ahead. Although the rules somewhat differ from what I understand.

Ana Mardoll said...

David, I'm struggling to find a polite way to respond to your post, and I'm disappointed with myself that I can't seem to, but here goes anyway: Making a broad statement as a man about what women universally do, to a board full of women is ignorant and rude.

Choosing to respond in any way other than "whoops, sorry, shouldn't have phrased myself that way" to the three people who pointed out your fail in the post in question is foolish. Continuing to express yourself as though you -- as an owner of a penis -- have some kind of collective hive mind insight into what all men have observed about all women in all cultures throughout all time is baffling.

I recommend you check your privilege before you alienate posters to the point that they start ignoring your posts. It's costing me quite a few spoons to respond, and I think I'm probably not the only one.

Amarie said...

*reads David's latest post and runs for shelter, waiting for the storm that is Kit Witfield and others to commence...debates on praying for David*

DavidCheatham said...

Erm, okay. I will amend it to: It is more likely for a man to run into the same women later and they both comically get trapped in an elevator together as a 'date', than it is for her to respond to a man's request that she get back in touch with him if she wants to go out with him.

More seriously, of course there are outliers. There are always outliers.

But when asking women out, men have to behave as if the woman is the norm. And this hypothetical is an exceptionally silly thing to try, because if the women doesn't come over, the man doesn't know if she was not interested in him, or just wasn't willing to do that for someone she was interested in. (And it's not like he can go back later and ask without being harassing.)

Ana Mardoll said...

More seriously, of course there are outliers. There are always outliers.

The thing is, David, you are not in a position to say what most women do or what most men do, or what is or is not outlying behavior. You can speak from your experience, but you have to acknowledge that you are speaking from your experience and that other peoples' experience may vary.

I'm beginning to become a little touchy with the tone of your posts, which seem to indicate that you think you own the definition on what is normal behavior for people based on the groups you have put them in. Your experience is not everyone else's experience, and you would do very well to stop posting about what men "have" to do and what is "likely" for women to do.

bekabot said...

"If I E.V.E.R saw a pretty, sparkling Hulk, that big guy is getting a fan girl's hug. It might only be around his leg or his finger...but by Marvel, he's getting a hug. :D"

I wish I could say the same thing...if I saw a sparkly green Hulk while out hiking, I'd probably just pass out. (I've never pretended to be of the stuff of which comic book characters are made.) Then, later on, after I'd come to and noticed the footprints, a couple of thoughts would chase themselves in brief succession through my head: 1) "I know that was no Sasquatch" and 2) "I'm so not going to try and track those; in fact, watch me head the other way." Then I'd scram out of there as fast as I could go. And that would be that...

Antigone10 said...

Couple of things:

1) I don't have any autistic spectrum disorders (that I'm aware of) but I find myself constantly baffled by the social norms and rules that we constantly have to follow. The fact that they are ever-shifting depending on millions of factors, and completely unwritten. Then on top of that, discussion and recognition of the social norms (particularly while they are happening) is considered extremely weird, or at best ridiculously academic. Most of the time, I think communication would be easier if we were telepathic, or if life DID have a soundtrack.

2) @ David- And we are, in fact, women so we know how we are going to react to how guys ask us out, thanks. We don't need your explanation as to women react to YOU when you ask them out. And, yeah, I'd actually follow their advice when they say "When guys do this, it's creepy, even if we have to smile and be passive about it". I have actually had guys go "I'm interested in you, just to let you know. If you're interested in me, here's my number". I did respond, in fact, to that very nice, non-confrontational approach. I did call him, and we had a couple of dates. So, the "no women ever respond to that" is, well, completely wrong.

Amarie said...

*slowly and carefully pokes head out of storm shelter and whispers at bekabot*

Psst…D’aww!! Perhaps I’m just disturbed, by I’ve always thought of the Hulk as a big, cuddly, misunderstood teddy bear. Or…maybe I’m a romantic junkie (seriously, more than 60 % or my books are romance novels) and I’m just thinking of how the Hulk would act around Betty, haha. But either way, your instinct of self preservation is better than mine, haha!

*crawls back into storm shelter and locks the door for good measure*

Sarah Weber said...

In fact, women explaining how men 'should' behave to get a date is, uh, womansplaining. Men have decades of cultural trial and error at asking women out, and it's a bit presumptuous to come in and say 'No, you're doing it all wrong, we know better than you'.

I was going to try to explain to you why your reasoning is flawed, David, but I just keep getting hung up on this. It doesn't matter that men traditionally ask women out, and therefore have more "experience" than women - women still know better than men which behaviors are more likely to get the man a date. Or, to be more exact, women generally know better than men what women as a whole find blatantly offensive and off-putting, and an individual woman is going to know best what she's looking for in a partner.

You wouldn't go up to a prospective employer and tell them that, since you've got so much experience with job interviews, you know better than they how you should behave in order to get the job (and if you did, you certainly shouldn't expect to get that job). You can't apply the scientific theory to relationships this way, because human behavior is complex and the way a woman responds to a man's attempts to pick her up is going to depend on a multitude of factors, not the least of which is her previous experience with men and sexual attraction. "Trial and error" might help you narrow down your approaches to the least blatantly offensive, but there is no guarantee that any one approach will work on all, or even most, women.

Maybe I'm off track, since all of my past relationships have been formed through friendship and I have never been approached by a stranger seeking a date, but it seems to me that "universal" strategies for asking a woman out are the domain of the pick-up artist. PUAs are obviously far more interested in sexual conquests than romantic relationships, and most women I know are wary of being approached for sexual contact. So maybe, instead of approaching beautiful women they don't know very well in the hopes that they might score a date, men who are actually interested in a romantic relationship could actually take the time to get to know the woman and ask her on a date in a manner that appeals to her personally. It's certainly not a guarantee that she'd say yes, but I know I'd prefer a heartfelt request over some random guy asking if he can buy me a drink.

DavidCheatham said...

Making a broad statement as a man about what women universally do, to a woman is ignorant and rude.

*shrug* I think that making statements as a woman that what men do is incorrect and women know better (Despite not actually ever doing it) is somewhat ignorant, but I was trying to be nice about it.

You're right in that I probably shouldn't have said 'Women do not actually respond back, ever.', and I'm sorry. Some women surely do, just like some women probably ask men out to start with. So I will amend that to: From what me and other men have observed, and the rule of thumb we operate by when asking women on dates, women do not actually respond back in any noticeable amount.

But the rest I stand by. There are things that, as a man, I won't say about women. Men have no idea about a vast majority of women's behavior. I don't even speculate.

But I don't see why it's shocking that men might know how women respond when talking to men. The words are directed at us, after all. Not how women think, or why they behave a certain way, but the actual response to 'Would you go out with me?', yes, we are as aware of that response as the women are.

And in this specific circumstances of 'men asking out women', each man has participated in conversations with more different women than each woman has.

And it really is sort of offensive for people who've just spent a lot of time talking about how men in general treat women, to suddenly say that men are 'mansplaining' when they talk about how women react to men. But I guess it's reasonable to talk about how men react to women. Perhaps some men should leap in and say 'Ahem, we think we know how men treat women better than you do. We are, after all, men. And the idea we engage in sexist behavior is wrong.'.

Not that I'm trying to compare the two things, but, yes, each gender does know how the other gender interacts with them!

But I have a feeling this will convince no one, so perhaps I should just shut up now.

Ana Mardoll said...

So I will amend that to: From what me and other men have observed, and the rule of thumb we operate by when asking women on dates, women do not actually respond back in any noticeable amount.

May I recommend further editing to:

So I will amend that to: From what I have observed, and the rule of thumb I operate by when asking women on dates, women do not actually respond back in any noticeable amount.

There are other men on this blog. You don't speak for them, or indeed anyone but yourself.

And it really is sort of offensive for people who've just spent a lot of time talking about how men in general treat women, to suddenly say that men are 'mansplaining' when they talk about how women react to men.

I am not aware of anyone on this blog saying how men treat women. There have been discussions about what individual people have individually observed, while repeatedly saying that their individual experiences are not universal statements of fact and may be colored by bias, culture, and any number of other factors.

As to the rest, I do concur that a breather is in order. Also, +1 to Sarah's excellent post.

DavidCheatham said...

You wouldn't go up to a prospective employer and tell them that, since you've got so much experience with job interviews, you know better than they how you should behave in order to get the job

Uh, no, of course you don't go up to people who you want to do something and tell them you know more about how to get them to do what you want then they do. Duh.

But, yes, people who have successfully hired at a wide variety of companies are a better source of information about 'how to be hired' than someone working in the HR department at a random company. If I wanted a job at Company X, and had the choice of being tutored by someone who worked HR at Company Y, and someone who'd applied at 10 different companies over his life and gotten hired at 75% of them and could tell me what he'd done wrong and what he'd done right, I'd get tutored by the second guy. (Of course, if I wanted to get hired at X, it's a different matter...but people are mostly not able to be tutored 'how to convince me' by the people they're trying to convince of something, be it dating or hiring.)

That's actually an excellent example, thanks.

Or, to be more exact, women generally know better than men what women as a whole find blatantly offensive and off-putting

Because women have not bothered to inform men of stuff they find offensive and off-putting yet, and men are quite stupid.

No, wait. If women generally find some offensive and off-putting, I suspect men generally already figured that out. (No one missed the fact I've been stating that men have rules of thumb about this, right?)

and an individual woman is going to know best what she's looking for in a partner

Well, yes, but that's mostly moot. Women do not dispense advice to people who are attempting to ask them out about how to do it better. (If the asker does happen to know this, though, obviously they should follow it.)

Maybe I'm off track, since all of my past relationships have been formed through friendship and I have never been approached by a stranger seeking a date, but it seems to me that "universal" strategies for asking a woman out are the domain of the pick-up artist.

Ah, those exist also, but the rules I'm talking about aren't just for strangers. I realize that I could have given that impression, but it's stuff like 'propose a concrete event for a date', and if she says she's busy, and doesn't propose a different event, back off, try again some other day. (That might, in fact, have actually been a rejection, it is hard to tell. It might be she actually is busy, and it might be a weird halfway rejection and she'll change her mind later.)

And a lot of stuff is 'how to not come off like a creep'. Like not approaching a women without anyone else around. (Yes, strangely, men have figured out that women do not like this even while not really grasping why. But they have noticed that women tend to reject them and run off.) Or 'for God's sake stop staring'.

c2t2 said...

Can I try a definitely-tongue-in-cheek reversal?

Of course women don't call you back, ever. You know what men do? They only ever hit on the hottest chick in the room. NEVER anyone else. They don't grok that the Angelina Jolie lookalike is out of their league, so while she is getting buried under piles and piles of phone numbers, the rest of us are just chillin with our gal pals and occasionally dodging dudes so we aren't trampled as they all rush over to Angie.

See? Sexist generalizations, even if there is a kernel of truth, don't help anyone.

Amarie said...

*peeks out of hiding place and whimpers at Ana*

...I thought David said he was going to take a breather?!!!! My eyes are bleeding!!! :(

Ana Mardoll said...

David, there are women here telling you that some of the dating techniques you are recommending ARE offensive and off-putting to them and you are saying that they are wrong because otherwise men would have figured that out and changed tactics. THAT is the text book definition of mansplaining. Stop it.

I an telling you, as a woman, that you are being offensive and off-offputting in your comments right now. The fact that you haven't figured that out is irrelevant.

Ana Mardoll said...

David, there are women here telling you that some of the dating techniques you are recommending ate offensive and off-putting to them and you are saying that they are wrong because otherwise men would have figured that out and changed tactics.

Or, you graciously concede, the women you are talking to now are outliers.

I am telling you, as a woman, that you are being offensive and off-putting in your comments right now. The fact that you haven't figured that out is irrelevant.

Ana Mardoll said...

David, there are women here telling you that some of the dating techniques you are recommending ate offensive and off-putting to them and you are saying that they are wrong because otherwise men would have figured that out and changed tactics.

Or, you graciously concede, the women you are talking to now are outliers.

That is the text book definition of mansplaining. Stop it.

I am telling you, as a woman, that you are being offensive and off-putting in your comments right now. The fact that you haven't figured that out is irrelevant.

redcrow said...

I've been trying to come up with a polite response, but politeness fails me with every second. Amarie, if you hear some distant sounds of smashing and swearing aloud - that's not Hulk, that's me.

I'm not the greatest expert on All Men or All Women, but - DavidCheatham, you aren't one either. No one is. Please, try to stay away from "all men always" and "no woman ever". I didn't see Ana, Kit or anyone here claiming anything about "all men are like this, no men are like that". You are the one who employs generalisations while speaking about All Women.

DavidCheatham said...

Oh, I agree completely. And, oddly, I actually haven't asked a lot of women out, if you discount a brief spat in college mostly filled with rejections and urged on by my rather jerkish 'friends'. (I've actually mentioned those guys over in the 'rape culture' discussion. They were not nice people, to anyone, and looking back, a few of them had 'rape-y' attitudes. But they were the people on my hall, and I don't make friends easy.) Later on, I learned some much saner rules, from people who actually were not jerks.

But the rules men follow are entirely based on generalizations, and it's entirely possible, indeed, likely, that some of them are stupid.

And others are manipulative, a way for jerks to not present themselves as jerks. I've heard men give me advice not to do something that caused me to stare blankly at them thinking 'Who the hell would do something like that? Why would I need advice not to do that?'.

And, worse, I've heard advice about being 'assertive' that was just outright horrible and sexist, and sometimes verging on sexual assault.

But, I think Ana is right and I'm going to take a break for a bit, see everyone tomorrow where hopefully people reread this discussion and see parts of it, on both sides, got a little heated for not very good reasons.

I apologize for when I generalized about women 'never' doing something. I was simply trying to give male observations about the 'asking women out' process and how men think about it. Which, yes, does include generalizations about women's behavior, but I shouldn't have stated any of them as fact.

bekabot said...

"Psst…D’aww!! Perhaps I’m just disturbed, by I’ve always thought of the Hulk as a big, cuddly, misunderstood teddy bear. Or…maybe I’m a romantic junkie (seriously, more than 60 % or my books are romance novels) and I’m just thinking of how the Hulk would act around Betty, haha. But either way, your instinct of self preservation is better than mine, haha!"

My instinct for self-preservation may be better, but your chances of ending up with an really-for-true magical pal are definitely higher, so I guess it balances out. FWIW (again) I think your attitude is probably overall more healthy than mine; all the same, as individuals, we react the way we react; I thought I would 'fess up and describe the way effect an unexpected sparkly Hulk would likely have on me. I agree that the Hulk, though enormous and scary, isn't dangerous in the way that some of the other superheroes, to say nothing of supervillains, can be dangerous. He doesn't appear to hold grudges à la Batman (yeah, I know, that's a different universe, so) he doesn't seem to be an egomaniac like Tony Stark and he isn't contaminated by a god's-eye viewpoint the way Thor is, so IMO the big misunderstood teddy bear POV is a defensible one. I wouldn't anticipate getting smushed by the Hulk except by accident.

Nevertheless, I'm not exceptionally brave. When I'm walking around in the middle of nowhere I get startled and scared by the sight of other hikers even when I'm certain they're up to no harm. If I were to catch a glimpse of a sparkly Hulk I would be headed for an unexpected nap. I'm just saying.

bekabot said...

Don't know what's up with the header and footer there: your guess is as good as mine.

Kit Whitfield said...

Yes, men do know better than women the 'best' way to ask women out, and to get them to say yes...because men have actually spend large amounts of time attempting to figure this out and attempting new ways.

Can you say 'heterosexism'? Women ask women out too, you know.


And, oddly, I actually haven't asked a lot of women out, if you discount a brief spat in college mostly filled with rejections and urged on by my rather jerkish 'friends'.

You do not surprise me. Based on the way you talk to women here, the odd scenario would be that you'd asked a lot of women out and had good relationships with them.


Men have noticed how multiple women respond, whereas women just have themselves and a few stories friends have told them. (And the latter tend to be statistically poor because they're the 'weird' ones that stick in women's minds.)

Yeah, studying us funny savages in the wild gives you a truly empirical overview. We're so primitive we can't possibly remember who asked us out and how. We need logical-minded men to straighten things out for us.


In fact, women explaining how men 'should' behave to get a date is, uh, womansplaining. Men have decades of cultural trial and error at asking women out, and it's a bit presumptuous to come in and say 'No, you're doing it all wrong, we know better than you'.

Oh my fucking god. Did you just say it's splaining for a woman to say what she finds appealing and what she finds creepy? Have you ANY IDEA HOW CREEPY YOU ARE BEING? If I met you in the street I would run in the other direction.


Unlike Ana, I'm not going to struggle to be polite. I'm going to be blunt:

You are being a type. The type is this: the man who has made some effort to understand feminism and a female perspective, congratulates himself on having it all taped, and turns into a complete asshole when women disagree with him about these issues he's studied so very carefully and knows so much about.

Yes, you should shut up now. You should shut up for a very long time and listen very carefully for an even longer time. You are operating from a position of unconscious incompetence, and you need to knock it right off.

Amarie said...

*eyes gradually stop bleeding for a while*

Bless you, redcrow. If you need a fan girl’s hug, I’m here for you. ^ ^

At bekabot:

Oh, I understand completely! And I doubt that you’re not brave; if anything, you’re brave to speak up on Ana’s blog!* Besides, a sparkling Hulk is just one of the imaginary friends that I would personally like to have. If I may, what is *your* ideal, imaginary friend? :D




*Although…I’m biased. I think that it took me almost a month to get up the nerve to start commenting/posting here. I remember that I was both entranced and T.E.R.R.I.F.I.E.D by all of you…mostly Kit and Ana, haha. I didn’t want to be flamed, nor did I want to be misunderstood. I just kept thinking of myself as a lowly, too-young college student that didn’t have anything interesting to say. My mom eventually had to threaten to tickle me to get me to post. So, um…yeah. If you ever think you’re a coward, just look at this Amarie. *BLUSH*

Kit Whitfield said...

Amarie: just wanted to say I actively look forward to your comments and always find them fascinating. :-)

bekabot said...

"If I may, what is *your* ideal, imaginary friend? :D"

I don't have an ideal imaginary friend, but I have an imaginary alter-ego who is haunted by or connected to what I suppose you could call a totem beast. He's an ugly flat-headed hound with gray eyes and a gray hide, and he's aligned with the power of the earthquake, the cataract, the avalanche, and the tidal wave. He's not a natural animal: although he is solid to the touch, he can phase into and out of visibility: he leaves footprints or doesn't depending on how "phased-in" he is. His breath steams cold, and any piece of ground on which he has lain will be cold.

chris the cynic said...

There's a guidebook?

Why does no one tell me these things? No wonder I always seem to have a harder time of it than others, I haven't read the guide. What topics does it cover? Where can I get one?

Does it cover things you should know being human in general, or is there an additional guidebook for things not specifically related to being male?

Ana Mardoll said...

Don't know what's up with the header and footer there: your guess is as good as mine.

I've noticed that too. It happens when you try to do:

[sarcasm] [/sarcasm]

But with triangle brackets instead of square ones.

I'm going to have stern words at the next International Man Conference, believe you me.

This tickled me so much, because the next thing that popped into my head was an International Man/Woman Conference where people keep clogging the conference area trying to hand out their own handbooks as to how men/women supposedly should/do act. THIS IS THE RIGHT HANDBOOK, DANGIT. NOT THAT ONE OVER THERE.

Ana Mardoll said...

I want to add that I'm fascinated by a certain sentiment here, which is that Group A is composed of a hive mind of individuals who are motivated by one sole defining factor in life and they are constantly tweaking their approach to that factor, analyzing the results with their robot-like minds, and sharing the results with the rest of the hive mind in a constant drive towards perfection as a group. It's Borg-like in its efficiency.

Whereas, of course, Group B doesn't really know that much about it outside of anecdata, confirmation bias, and a few lousy friends. Huh.

Does it cover things you should know being human in general, or is there an additional guidebook for things not specifically related to being male?

Are there different-colored colors for different culture editions, a la Andrew Lang's Fairy Color Books?

bekabot said...

"I’m thinking of him/it/her as a ghost/spirit that actually has more power and influence than the living."

Yep.

"Any weaknesses? :O

He can only manifest under certain circumstances. He can't be "present" invariably or all of the time. He's not specifically protective of my alter-ego b/c there are times when he doesn't show up although nothing prevents it and though she could use his help. The way my alter-ego explains his behavior to herself is that she and her "familiar" — if he is her familiar — happen to "run in tandem" at certain moments (at which their realities intersect); she also thinks that she can see him b/c she's somewhat attuned to/under the sway of the natural powers he symbolizes. Like I said, she can't see him on a regular basis: she's far more likely to hear him or sense his presence. Occasionally the people around her can also overhear or sense the presence of the specter-hound. When this apparition shows himself to my alter-ego he always takes the form of a stocky, ungainly, dark-gray male dog, though she's pretty sure that nothing constrains him to that shape and that he could take another if he "wished" — though it's uncertain how much (or what kind) of a mentality he has.

"I've noticed that too. It happens when you try to do:

[sarcasm] [/sarcasm]

But with triangle brackets instead of square ones."


Thanks for the heads-up. I'll try to be more careful from now on.

Ana Mardoll said...

Thanks for the heads-up. I'll try to be more careful from now on.

I find it dreadfully annoying, since I'm a triangle bracket kind of person, but apparently Disqus is trying to interpret it literally. :D

Charity Brighton said...

If I met you in the street I would run in the other direction.

I wish I could say the same thing, but I have a really hard time identifying people like this on sight...

Randy Owens said...

It looks to me like it's assuming you were trying to make actual attributes for an element tag, so it expands them with the '=""' since bare attributes are forbidden in newer HTMLs, and then rearranges them in alphabetical order for good measure and neatness. Also, it might have added in the closing tags ("[/bekabot]") if you didn't include those yourself.

I'm assuming that what you were going for was (with square bracket substitution for safety) "[bekabot assumes her most nonthreatening aspect]" and "[bekabot reassumes her customary fearsome demeanor]"?

DarcyPennell said...

Wow, that was exciting. Back to the topic of depression, this segment of the book makes me feel so sad for Bella. For a few paragraphs she sounds sympathetic and normal: just a lonely girl, trying her best to fend of a creep without hurting anyone's feelings -- and no, that's not particularly feminist, but it rang so true to me. Not feeling guilty about a polite no, it didn't come naturally to me. I knew in my head there was no reason for the guilt, but learning not to feel it took me decades. I can't fault a teenager for not having that level of detachment.

Granted, I have to read this passage in isolation to feel this level of sympathy for Bella. Maybe I'm just feeling extra charitable today.

Speaking of which, I only have one tangential comment on the whole big kerfuffle: someone who says that of course job applicants know the most about what's required to get hired, is someone who has never been on the hiring end of that transaction. Job interviews look really different from the hiring side of the table.

chris the cynic said...

It's obviously always possible to make mistakes but I believe, based mostly on personal experience and anecdata, that in general the most catastrophic errors of that kind come when you stop worrying you might be wrong.

It's when you're sure that you're right and don't stop to really examine in depth that you might be wrong that things go very, very wrong. Especially since that's when you're most likely to dismiss people who rightly point out that you are in fact in the wrong.

So, based on that, I think that the fact that you're afraid of doing that is a good thing. If you weren't afraid, if instead you were with saying with confidence, "Well I'll never do that," then I think you'd be much more likely to do it.

Certainly the fact that you're asking people to tell you if you go wrong is a good sign in itself.

Ana Mardoll said...

I agree with Chris. The point of fail is being unwilling to listen to anyone else when they say "no, that's not the way my experience has been". If you're open even a little bit to the idea that "I might be wrong", then you should be pretty safe. ;)

The Dread Pirate Matt said...

<aside>

bare attributes are forbidden in newer HTMLs

Except HTML5. :-)

</aside>

Silver Adept said...

@Amarie:

Twilight is certainly an escapist fantasy. Seems odd to say that it's a powerful one to me, but that's because I see it as a possible analogue for the Christ mythos - Bella goes and does all the very sinful, very problematic, very morally wrong things that she can, to the point where she is going to die from those choices, and in the end, through the forgiveness of the superior being, she ends up being redeemed and joining them.

Then again, for a lot of people, that story is quite powerful. What I think might be missing from the narrative there is that the Christ mythos generally resonates better with people who are Trying to Be Good and ending up failing or giving into their immoral sides. Isabella has given us no reason to believe that she's even trying to be good, and she still ends up with the cutest boy, with the superpowers, and the immortality. For most people, that would engender resentment. Then again, since Bella's a self-insert character, people can sidestep that resentment because it's them getting all that, and not someone else.

(The interesting thing about this particular mythos, though, (and other can back me up or tell me I'm off for their denomination) is that the Christ figure and his disciples explicitly and repeatedly say that their redemption is for those people that are trying hard and those that aren't, and that his disciples shouldn't behave like the other people who were all so holier-than-thou because they were part of the priestly class.

Which probably all goes to show that I'm not a very good Christian, were I claiming to be one. )

Anyway, maybe the mythos would work, were we not having hang-ups about the execution. I think that's why I'm having trouble with "powerful".

Rainicorn said...

Good points all. I would add that Twilight works in a similar way to Peep Show. Hear me out...

I was talking with a friend today about why we love Peep Show. (If you're unfamiliar, it's a very funny British sitcom about two schlubby friends; the gimmick is that almost all of it is shot from one or other character's POV, with his internal monologue as voiceover.) Peep Show works for us because we're so thoroughly inside these characters' heads that we sympathize with them even as they do horrible things. Their internal monologues replicate the way people think - all the horribly selfish thoughts we'd never dream of sharing - and, because we recognize our own thought processes, the show hits the perfect balance of garnering sympathy for the characters (because they're only human after all) while at the same time allowing us to laugh at them (because they are horrible people).

I think Twilight does a similar sort of thing. Once you start analyzing the text in detail, you encounter so many problematic elements, because the narrative has deliberately not been well thought out. It's just the straight-up inner-monologue ramblings of a generic first-person narrator - it's supposed to resemble the almost stream-of-consciousness internal monologue of a self-conscious teenager. That's why we see all of Bella's meanest thoughts, but we also get the endless self-absorbed overthinking that we can identify with because we all* secretly do it.

*Well, I can't speak for all humans ever, but I do it, and presumably all the other people who like Peep Show do it, and presumably all the people who like Twilight do it...

Kit Whitfield said...

You *can* tell your parents what to do, say, etc. and ultimately be disrespectful to them…but you’d better pack your bags for boot camp.

I assume you're being rhetorical, but on the off-chance anyone has a kid they're considering sending to boot camp (!) - read Maia Szalawitz's Help At Any Cost. Boot camps for troubled kids are somewhere between a scam and a cult: kids die in them, the survivors come out with severe psychological injuries, and they have absolutely no evidence that they do any good. Really, really don't do it!

--

Isabella has given us no reason to believe that she's even trying to be good, and she still ends up with the cutest boy, with the superpowers, and the immortality. For most people, that would engender resentment. Then again, since Bella's a self-insert character, people can sidestep that resentment because it's them getting all that, and not someone else.

Possibly too the negativity of her tone is a kind of acid test. Bella carps about almost every other character on small provocation. If we're going to read the book, we have to accept that ... which means we have to be her rather than see her as a separate person, because if she were a separate person we wouldn't like her.

Rikalous said...

I want to add that I'm fascinated by a certain sentiment here, which is that Group A is composed of a hive mind of individuals who are motivated by one sole defining factor in life and they are constantly tweaking their approach to that factor, analyzing the results with their robot-like minds, and sharing the results with the rest of the hive mind in a constant drive towards perfection as a group. It's Borg-like in its efficiency.
If I was in such a hivemind, you can be damn sure I'd use it for something more important than getting dates.

Kit Whitfield said...

I want to add that I'm fascinated by a certain sentiment here, which is that Group A is composed of a hive mind of individuals who are motivated by one sole defining factor in life and they are constantly tweaking their approach to that factor, analyzing the results with their robot-like minds, and sharing the results with the rest of the hive mind in a constant drive towards perfection as a group.

I read it the opposite way: Group A is composed of individuals whose superior intellectual capacity makes them capable of rational conclusions, whereas Group Be is composed of animals who can be experimented upon but can't possibly be expected to understand the data.

Of course, since this is a Twilight thread, it could very well be both. Sexism contradicts reality, so consistency is not its strong suit.

(In case this is chalked off as mere female hysteria, I should mention that my husband read it last night and remarked: 'You know, I can see his logic. It all makes perfect sense if you overlook one crucial factor, which is that women are human beings too.')

Amarie said...

At Kit:

Oh my GOD. Kit, I am SO sorry!!! I had no idea that boot camp actually killed/severely traumatized kids. I definitely meant it in a rhetorical sense; I was trying to say that most children would meet some kind of extreme discipline for such behavior. I didn’t mean to come off as ignorant and/or extreme. Please accept my apologies. D:

At Silver:

Oh, I definitely agree with you. One of the big things about Twilight is that it really only works if you’re trying just as hard in real life. If we accept the fact that we’re beautifully flawed human beings-which we are-then the ‘perfection’ of the Cullen’s that Bella strives for just isn’t going to be working any magic. Ultimately, I see it as the fantasy where real life actions don’t have real life consequences; you’re allowed to forgo them because you’re just that Awesome.

Hmmm…you make incredibly interesting analogies with the religion, dear Dark Mantle! Honestly, I only saw how…blatant…the religious text/message(s) was when Mark pointed it out in one or two of his posts. Personally, I see Bella’s assimilation into the Cullen family as a metaphor for not Being Good and yet, getting into the heaven of your choice. In this heaven you get to be white, strong, rich, an avid sex machine (with no social backlash for either gender), and have a huge interloping network of moral/emotional/psychological support from a large, beautiful family.

…From that angle I can see why Stephenie Meyer said the Breaking Dawn ending was ‘always meant to be’.

At Rainicorn:

Oh, you make an excellent point and comparison, actually! Personally, I have to say that I wouldn’t mind Bella’s snark and neuroticism if…

1. She was funny while she was doing it (as in Dr. Becker or Dr. House)
2. There was a valid *reason* for her sentiments and thoughts in the first place
3. The audience could rest assured that the author knows her thoughts are not wanted and/or are comically degrading to her


And I think the text isn’t *deliberately* thought out; Stephenie Meyer really did ‘write it without thinking about what [I’m] doing’. And I believe her; when she’s being asked legitimate questions/criticized, I don’t hear someone that seems to have actually thought over what she wrote before she published it; I hear someone that didn’t quite think that when you publish something, a wide range of readers will read it. And in that range rests critical thinkers. I could go deeper into that-and it’s one of the reasons why my fan-girl status died-but alas…I will not put my own biases out there so much, haha.

Casey said...

I think the hivemind theory goes with the same kind of thinking that allows some men to claim women are all gossipy and spend all their time talking on the phone and in the next breath claim women don't compare notes. OR if they do compare notes it's back to backstabbing bitches. For the women I'm friends with, being asked out isn't an everyday ocurrence so when it hapens they share. Whether the approach was a stranger, an acquaintance, creepy, flattering or something else, they talk about it. And yes, the ones I know [i]do[/i] come up with criteria for accepting a date. I've sat through several conversations on what the women I know consider to be too fast, too hesitant, too desperate, too threatening, or who they wouldn't consider if he were the last man on Earth.

On the subject of Mike and dibs, my perspective is a little different from most of what I see here. I am not ok with Mike trying to pressure Bella and Edward to live their personal lives according to his rules. If Edward felt the dibs rule applied and tried to act in accordance with that, I wouldn't see it as denying Bella a choice. Edward has the choice to ask Bella out or not and so does Bella. If the rules Edward lives by say he doesn't ask Bella out under those conditions, that's his choice. In the choices we make, not every choice that impacts on other people is one that those other people figure into. To me, it has to do with priorities. If the guy from college valued the good will of the guy he'd known for an hour over the possibility of a date, those are his priorities. I don't think they're necessarily a good set of priorities but it's not taking a choice away from her because he's the only one who gets to choose his priorities. I'm not sure if I talked myself in a knot, sorry if it's unclear.

Ana Mardoll said...

Casey, you make a good point, and I'm trying to reconcile my feelings on the matter into something coherent. Definitely, all people have the right to ask or not ask out other people based on their own priorities, decisions, etc. And I'm not going to say that it's wrong to talk to someone and say "look, I treasure our relationship, and I want to know if my doing X will damage it".

On the other hand, the exchange can be very insulting to the Person Of Interest (POI?) because the "right" to go out with them is being traded back and forth in a back room without their knowledge. It effectively turns them into a commodity, whether or not the intention is good.

Perhaps my real problem is with the idea of a "friend" who would allow a relationship to be damaged because another friend went out with "their" POI. Perhaps my problem is not with the Asker's priorities so much as with the idea that such a thing as "ruining a friendship because your friend asked out a POI without your permission" is something worth valuing. Is there a real friendship in place if it can be so easily ruined? I'm not sure.

I *can* say that the idea of "dibs" creeps me out significantly. *Particularly* if -- as in this case -- the Dibs Party believes that the POI has gone and asked out Someone Else and considers that foul play.

Kit Whitfield said...

Oh my GOD. Kit, I am SO sorry!!! I had no idea that boot camp actually killed/severely traumatized kids. I definitely meant it in a rhetorical sense; I was trying to say that most children would meet some kind of extreme discipline for such behavior. I didn’t mean to come off as ignorant and/or extreme. Please accept my apologies. D:

Oh, don't worry about it. I thought it was worth recommending the book because it's a very valuable expose, but I didn't think you were genuinely suggesting putting kids in boot camps.

--

And I think the text isn’t *deliberately* thought out; Stephenie Meyer really did ‘write it without thinking about what [I’m] doing’.

There is something to be said for running on subconscious when you're writing: it can create more vivid writing and less formulaic plotting. And indeed, Meyer's line to her subconscious clearly resonates with a lot of people!

--

I could go deeper into that-and it’s one of the reasons why my fan-girl status died-but alas…I will not put my own biases out there so much, haha.

I don't know about anyone else, but I'd be interested to hear anything you had to say on the subject. :-)

--

And yes, the ones I know [i]do[/i] come up with criteria for accepting a date.

In my experience (which may, of course, differ from your friends'), some men seem to believe that women's 'criteria' are a kind of checklist we create based on abstract principles and then put ticks or crosses on to decide whether a guy passes or not. Guys who think that are more likely to believe that they can come up with a system to make women ask them out, because they think that women themselves are running a system.

And (again in my experience), it's not exactly like that. Whether or not you accept a man's advances is determined by various factors: whether you find him physically attractive, whether you find him enjoyable company, and whether or not he rings your alarm bells. The latter is key - but a man doesn't generally ring alarm bells because he gathers too many crosses on an abstract list. Generally speaking it's a visceral reaction: This man makes me feel nervous/uncomfortable/bad about myself/awkward/afraid. The 'criteria' are likely to be a post-experience formulation of what is, at the time, an instinctive reaction.

(It's for this reason that women's 'criteria' are much harder to game than certain men wish to believe. They're not a permanent system; they're a constantly-evolving set of responses to experience. Less a computer game with a cheat code and more an immune system that scans for pathogens.)

I'm married and off the dating scene now, but in earlier days, if you'd asked me what my criteria for accepting a date were, I probably could have come up with an answer. But I didn't actually have a list that I checked suitors against. The 'criteria' were really just a summary of what I felt instinctively and what I'd learned from experience so far.

Ana Mardoll said...

The 'criteria' were really just a summary of what I felt instinctively and what I'd learned from experience so far.

Not totally unlike the Schrodinger's Rapist post that TRiG linked to in the other thread. I love it when threads connect. :D

Izzy said...

Yeah, I don't get this either. It just seems dumb to me--as does the rule.
As, for that matter, does the friends'-ex thing, but I move in social circles where, if nobody asked out friends' exes, nobody would ever date.

Brin Bellway said...

Amarie: I could go deeper into that-and it’s one of the reasons why my fan-girl status died-but alas…I will not put my own biases out there so much, haha.

Kit: I don't know about anyone else, but I'd be interested to hear anything you had to say on the subject. :-)

Me too.


Re: boot camps
(TW: abuse, victim blaming)

Occasionally I see shows about them when flipping through the channels. The horror of those shows have two main prongs:

1: The terrible abusive things they show are just what the people running the boot camp were willing to do on international TV. If that's what they admit to, things they feel neither shame nor fear of punishment for, what's going on off-camera?

2: The shows clearly expect me to sympathise with the abusers rather than the kids. They talk about "she's doing drugs, he's committing petty shoplifting" like that justifies it. The implied "you only perceive this as bad because you're a spoiled teenager yourself" doesn't help.

Ana Mardoll said...

I did not know this about boot camps (well, except for that one CSI episode) so now I, too, am disturbed. I do know about religious "re-education" camps for, say, sending your QUILTBAG child to, so now that I think about it, it stands to reason that boot camps would do equally distressing things. :(

depizan said...

There's another, closely related problem with having a system for asking women out. Women are individuals. Even if each woman did have a checklist, their checklists would vary wildly.

And the cheat code comparison seems very apt. Having a system for asking women out sounds far too much like one is considering women to be npcs in a game, rather than actual people. And that one wins by getting a phone number (or more) and loses every time one says no. That doesn't seem like a very healthy way to approach relationships, or even the desire to hook up for one night stands.

Izzy said...

If women generally find some offensive and off-putting, I suspect men generally already figured that out.

HA HA HA HA HA.

HA.

...no.

This weekend at game? I had a guy come up to me out of the blue and say, I swear to God, "I've been thinking about a couple things all day, and I've decided it's good that you don't wear a bra."

Ver-fucking-batim, that. Am I sleeping with this guy? No. Do I flirt with this guy? No. Do I know this guy particularly well? No.

Is this sort of incident uncommon? Nooooot really. I've had enough--some just annoying, some really incredibly creepy*-- to fill a full-sized book in the last ten years. If I included everything my friends have reported, it'd be a LOtR-sized trilogy. (The Fellowship of Get Your Fucking Tongue Out of My Ear, Buddy.) If men have "generally already figured [what's creepy and offensive] out", many of them have generally chosen to ignore it.

This is among fairly liberal, geeky people, by the way. Conservative circles have some fucking creepy things too--the "God wants us to be together" deal gives me the jibblies--but there is by no means a monopoly.

Unrelatedly, my reaction to the "dibs" concept is...what the fuck? What are we, in sixth grade? And is the guy the front seat of a car? God, I don't think so. I mean, if I know my friend has a crush on Guy X, I'll give her a chance to ask him out first--but that is, as someone said, maybe a week, and depends on her acting on it.

On criteria: I have something of a list, actually. Some of it is stuff I know won't work: I don't date anyone on the libertarian/Republican side of the spectrum, because come on**; I don't date anyone who doesn't read for pleasure, because likewise; I'm reluctant to date atheists, because my spirituality is important to me and I want my boyfriend(s) to not think I'm delusional; and so forth. Some of it is also abstraction of visceral stuff (I tend not to be attracted to X, Y, and Z types of men), which is more necessary when you date online.

Alarm bells are pretty visceral, though. Or at least, when they're not, it's...not really a checklist, because you don't think to put things like "does not talk about how he wants to cause a nuclear war so his ex will get back together with him" on a checklist. Or at least I don't.

*The guy at a bus stop who, on finding out my age, responded with "Oh, you're legal!" like he'd just won a free ice cream cone.
**Which is annoying, because the look I seem to go for is corporate/military. Come on, liberal boys! Believing in progressive politics doesn't mean you can't get a decent haircut! Really!

Kit Whitfield said...

TW: torture, abuse, exploitation of children

If that's what they admit to, things they feel neither shame nor fear of punishment for, what's going on off-camera?

According to Szalawitz, and depending on the individual place: beatings, semi-starvation, solitary confinement, hours in stress positions, denial of medical care, severe overcrowding, monitoring on the toilet to prevent masturbation, sexual assault, and, in the 'outdoor' programs, dangerously inadequate equipment, being made to sleep under a thin blanket in sub-zero open-air conditions, denial of food, and, fatally, denial of water to kids hiking through the desert.

Also: scare tactics such as telling parents that their children will be dead within months if they don't admit the kids based on 'diagnoses' with no medical credibility at all; gaining further internees by threatening to evict kids currently in the program (with the strong message that they'll die in the streets) unless their siblings are subjected to an investigation which always results in being told that the siblings should be put in there as well, and charging thousands and thousands of dollars - often cleaning out the kid's college fund - and tending to declare the kids unready to leave until, coincidentally, the money or health insurance cover runs out.

Also: recruiting employees with no experience or qualifications, or 'hiring' former internees who have been confused and traumatised into accepting the tenets of the organisation and hence will pass on the abuse.

In effect, this is imprisonment without trial in conditions that wouldn't be imposed on adult prisoners, and the 'behaviour modification' techniques have not a little in common with the coercive thought reform first studied in POW camps.

As Szalawitz points out, actual military boot camp may benefit a formerly misbehaving teen. But in a real boot camp, you're looking at someone in their late teens under the supervision of people in their late twenties or early thirties at the youngest, who are being trained for a job they can be proud of. Kids in their early teens under the supervision of kids in their late teens who are being constantly torn down and robbed of the money for their education do not face such a positive prospect.

Seriously: if you know anyone who's even considering it, please tell them to read her book. 'Brat camps' are a human rights abuse, not a treatment.

DavidCheatham said...

Okay, here I am back, and let me try to explain what I've been saying from the other direction.

Men and women are equally present at each attempt for men to ask women out. We can assume the sum knowledge of each gender are fairly equal there. (And, no, I'm not going to mention homosexuals in every one of my posts. My topic is 'men asking women out'. Same sex dating does not appear to be included under that topic.)

However I, as a man, have only been present at those interactions involving one man, me. I have heard of other interactions, but not been there. If you were to take me, and sit me down next to a random woman who had been asked out by ten different men, that woman would be a lot more knowledgeable than I in a quiz show of 'How Men Ask Women Out'. Even though I'm, by definition, the only one of us who has done that, she has seen a wider range than I have.

And she also knows more than I how to take the question and get what she wants out of 'being asked out'. (I.e., a sane, non-rapey, enjoyable date...or not a date, depending. The right result, whichever it is.) She knows much more than me about this, and probably has all sorts of little hints that it would be very hard to explain to me. She went on a date with someone who turned out to be a creep, and later a man asked her out who reminded her of how the first guy looked at her, so she turned him down.

Many women, rightfully, care a lot about this, and spend a lot of time trying to figure out how they can deduce what the right choice is from the limited data they have, because otherwise, at minimum, they have a bad date, and at worse they get raped or killed.

Many women also attempt to spread knowledge of this to other women in the dating scene. Granted, it is _not_ a checklist, a lot of it is gut feeling and inexplicable, but there are some aspects that can be explained. Rules of thumb that are helpful.

I understand this is a generalization, there are obviously women with no experience with being asked out, there are women who don't date so don't really pay attention to how they are asked out, there are even some transsexuals who have more experience than anyone else, having done this from both directions. But I'm sorta stumped at how anyone can talk about cultural issues without generalizing.

And I also understand that I've randomly narrowed my topic to 'men asking women out', whereas these is a hypothetical 'women asking men out' that exists and the logic is exactly backwards there. But, well, again, we're talking about cultural issues. In this culture, women asking men out is something we almost have to explicitly create times that it happens, aka, Sadie Hawkings dances, to have it happen at all.

So with those two caveats, Is there any sort of objection to what I just said?

I will continue the rest of this in a few hours, because I think part of my problem has been the large amount of huge postings at once. And that wasn't a rhetorical question, if I've actually said something wrong, correct me. (But please don't leap ahead to where you think I'm going.)

Kit Whitfield said...

David: until you have an apology for patronising everyone, I personally am not interested in anything you have to say. You need to stop trying to educate and start trying to learn.

Ana Mardoll said...

@hapax, your image of a slumming Jesus was lovely, thank you. All the free wine indeed, ha. :D

Kit Whitfield said...

On a more interesting subject: do people think we're supposed to read Bella's 'depression' as clinical depression or just as colloquial 'depression', ie a low mood?

Ana Mardoll said...

@Kit, that's a really good question, and it's something I'm struggling with, partly because of my ignorance. I've been diagnosed as severely depressed in the past, and... by the colloquial use of the word, I WAS. However, my depression was a combination of extremely serious circumstances under which I was living -- once the circumstances were alleviated, the depression went away.

To this day, I am quite furious that something like three doctors and psychiatrists were throwing pills at me and didn't, say, interview me for the five minutes it would have taken to learn that -- TRIGGER WARNING for rape -- V unq orra encrq ol oblsevraq, jnf qvfbjarq grzcbenevyl ol zl cneragf naq fbpvny pvepyr sbe gur pevzr bs univat cerznevgny frk, naq jnf abj univat gb yvir jvgu zl encvfg engure guna fgneir ba gur fgerrgf. Once those things Got Better, well, the depression evaporated. Go figure.

So I don't consider myself to have been "depressed" in the "something is not working right internally and no matter how great your life gets, you will still be depressed" sense. I consider my depression to have been a non-medical "low mood" that was dangerously severe because of the surrounding circumstances. Is that a correct parsing of clinical/colloquial depression? I'm honestly not sure.

Dav said...

David, it sounds like the topic should be "My Perceptions When I Ask Out Women I Want To Ask Out", because: again, men and women are not monoliths. I actually think this has been roundly addressed upthread.

We can assume the sum knowledge of each gender are fairly equal there.

But as you note later, the urgency of the stakes that knowledge is different. If you don't pay close attention to what you're doing, you might get turned down more than usual, or you'll get embarrassed. The stakes for women getting asked out? Sort of different. And as Izzy points out, guys may not generally be aware of how they are perceived.

I spend the same amount of time in my garden that my neighbor does, but it's her only source of fresh vegetables, and often is the bulk of her caloric intake for the summer. I think plants are nifty, and my beans are tastier than anything I get at the farmer's market, but I can afford food from the farmer's market or the grocery store. You think we have the same awareness of what's going on there?

there are women who don't date so don't really pay attention to how they are asked out

Um, no. I don't date, and I get asked out a fair amount. Not lots, but some, and I pay very close attention when it happens. Very, very close attention. Groups of people! Not monoliths!

depizan said...

More or less, I think. I'm more on the anxiety side of mental problems, and, while that gets better when my life is going well, it doesn't go away entirely.

I'm sorry you weren't offered real help for what you rot13ed. :(

Ana Mardoll said...

Thank you dezipan. :) It actually seems so distant to me now that it bothers me not in the slightest, and I have to consciously remember to ROT13 this stuff and not smack people in the face with it mid-Twilight thread. *blush*

Kit Whitfield said...

Regarding the ROT13'd stuff - yow. My sympathies.

Regarding depression - well, as I understand it, it's complicated. There's such a thing as 'situational depression', which is a reaction to stressful circumstances, so I suppose it's possible you were suffering from that - but equally you could just have been feeling justifiably miserable. One of the reasons depression's so hard to self-diagnose is that it does mirror feeling justifiably miserable; from the inside, that's pretty much how it looks.

My non-medical view is that one of the distinguishing features of depression is that you have certain concerns that lead you to believe that everything is hopelessly bad and always will be - and you return to those every time you feel the least bit upset, no matter where you started. I picture it like a castle full of trapdoors: you may fall through different trapdoors in different rooms and corridors, but they all drop you back into the same dungeon.

A medical point is that one of depression's diagnostic criteria is anhedonia, ie the inability to feel pleasure in things that you'd normally enjoy. For instance: what finally pushed me to the doctor with postnatal depression was that my husband and I went to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition, which is usually my favourite event of the year. I could see the photographs were good, but I just couldn't enjoy them. Because I knew how I normally felt there, I knew that how I was feeling was not normal - but life doesn't usually provide us with such useful comparisons.

So - and again, I'm not a doctor, just someone who had a brief but intense bout of postnatal depression and who has seen loved ones go under - It's very probable that you're right. The medics clearly didn't look into your circumstances very carefully and you were living through them, so I'd trust your judgement over theirs; pretty much everybody I know who's been treated for depression has had to self-diagnose, so I see no reason why your self-diagnosis of 'not depressed, just unhappy' should be written off.

My penny's worth, anyway.

Ana Mardoll said...

I like the term Situational Depression; I'm keeping that.

The problem with depression, or my version anyway, is that it did "get better" without chemical intervention, and I would hate for my situation to be used against Clinically Depressed people who will not get better no matter how lovely their lives are.

And, of course, on the flip side, giving chemicals to Situationally Depressed is neither wise nor helpful. I suspect the "feel" of the depression can be similar -- I experienced the lack of enjoyment that you mention, as well as what I think is called body disassociation -- but the ways to fight the depression seem very different.

Izzy said...

My personal neuron-misfiring is anxiety rather than depression per se, but what Kit describes sounds similar, particularly the circling thoughts and the inability to enjoy things you usually do. Which is not to say that having something bad uppermost in your mind can't cause those reactions as well...

...and then there's the whole body/mind thing, where stress or trauma can alter your brain chemistry, many serotonin disorders have specific triggers so they might show up circumstantially*, and so forth. One of those More Complicated Than That things.

@Dav: Word.

That said, I actually do suspect that many creepazoids *are* aware of how they come off. There are attitudes--either subconscious or conscious--of entitlement, beliefs that they shouldn't *have* to change what they do/say/look like, and actually the desire not so much to get dates as to get a little power trip out of making women feel uncomfortable. "Oh, I didn't know this came off creepy!" in my experience is, at least fifty percent of the time, Dickless Weasel for "I know damn well this comes off creepy, and I'm gonna say it, and if you object, I'm gonna act all apologetic while implying that you're uptight/mean/overdramatic, hnur hnur hnur".

I hate people sometimes. I think that's my point here.

*Sort of. My experience of anxiety disorders is that they expand--"I don't fly well" turns into "I get nervous for a week before I fly" turns into "I get nervous for weeks before I or anyone I know flies"--and also they switch if the particular trigger doesn't come up enough in your life. Bastards.

Kit Whitfield said...

And, of course, on the flip side, giving chemicals to Situationally Depressed is neither wise nor helpful.

Actually I think it can be. The point about situational depression is that while it's a response to specific circumstances, it's also pathological. Lay opinion, and any doctors may wish to correct me, but basically I think it's the difference between breaking a bone because you fell down a flight of steps (situational) and breaking a bone because you have osteoporosis (depression without any clear external cause). Depression is a physical illness, associated with drops in serotonin levels, damage to the hippocampus and other measurable symptoms that don't occur when someone is 'just' unhappy. (Again, no medical degree here.) So someone can be situationally depressed but also find that antidepressants address the pathological side of it, and hence give them the energy to get out of the situation.

Likewise, when I had postnatal depression it was only partly hormonal. Based on the sympathetic doctors I could get access to, it worked like this: I entered the hospital to be induced in perfectly sound psychological health; had a horrendous birth experienced; came down with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; didn't get appropriate help for it; ran down and down hill, and wound up with depression.

The fact that the birth was so bad was, in a way, situational. As the non-awful shrink I saw pointed out, it's perfectly normal to be upset about a bad experience. (The first one was sure it was all because I had childhood issues, and when I told her I didn't think her approach was helping me, told me I was projecting mother issues onto her. Like I said, I didn't get appropriate help.) But my reaction to it was both 'non-pathologically upset' and 'clinically depressed'.

Depression is better understood than it used to be, thank goodness, but it's still not understood very well. I think a case-by-case basis is probably the best way to go.

Ana Mardoll said...

Maybe it varies? For me, the pills didn't help because they seemed to do nothing more than screw up my internal chemistry and provide helpful side effects: not being able to sleep for days on end, fainting frequently, etc. I assumed the problem was that I was being given chemicals that were not needed or helpful in my case.

Gelliebean said...

Re: the calling dibs....

Shortly after I started seeing my now-DH romantically, he told me that he'd checked with a mutual guy friend to make sure that everything would be cool before he asked me out. This seemed kind of ridiculous to me for a couple of reasons. (1) Said mutual friend was an ex-boyfriend from seven years prior, who (2) had broken up with me for an ostensibly very silly reason, causing a lot of emotional damage, and (3) subsenquently came out of the closet a couple of years later, so I think it's safe to say that his interest in any woman, not just me, was pretty close to nil. (Incidentally, finding out his orientation cleared up so many of those emotional problems - I'm not actually a horrible girlfriend or an unworthy person, or a sad pathetic loser whose own boyfriend can't be bothered to pay any attention to her; he just couldn't help not being interested for reasons completely unrelated to me at all. Now if only he hadn't asked me out in the first place....)

My immediate reaction was to take offense - why should this mutual friend have the power to make this kind of a decision for me? What right does he have to give 'permission' about what I can do?

I was able to reconcile it at least to a certain extent by reframing the question as being not about me, but about DH. The issue wasn't whether our friend still had any kind of claim or authority to say who I could date; it was whether or not DH asking me out would cause problems in a friendship that was valuable to him, and then he could choose to proceed or not fully informed about what other ripples might occur.

I still don't really like it, but I can see why a guy would want to ask his friend "Will this mess us up?" if they're both interested in the same person, especially if the friendship is long-established and the romantic relationship is still theoretical.

Silver Adept said...

Thanks, hapax. With that extra bit, the analogue is even further off-kilter -close enough to be recognizable, but missing the parts that are important. (Which sort of sums up Twilight's relation to a lot of things, actually, so this is pretty self-consistent.) I may have also meant the pitch that most churches give to potential new converts about Christ and his infinite forgiveness when I said the Christ mythos, which is the story you mentioned more properly.

(Silv knows enough to be dangerous in many situations, but true expertise often eludes him.)

@Amarie

Is the fantasy of you deliberately digging yourself into a giant hole and then having someone else come and rescue you really that powerful? Or are we supposed to believe that somehow, Isabella isn't really at fault for all the choices she makes, and that it's the fantasy of saving someone from their personal nadir that's the powerful one. I'm still not quite seeing the sweet spot, but then again, I'm not a fan, so it's hard for me to see it.

@Kit Whitfield

I'm first inclined to think of it as S.A.D., Bella's excuse, because Arizona-to-Forks is quite the change in the sun/rain ratio, coupled with frustration-edging-on-despair because the cute boy she had talking to her is now giving her an extremely cold shoulder and she doesn't know why.

Later on in the series, (New Moon, ahoy) we might revise that to "Bella is prone to depression" after we have more incidents of the same, but since we have no backstory as to whether Bella was moody in Arizona, can't say much about it.

@Ana

How cruel of them to do that to you. I'm guessing there was an immense amount of victim-blaming that accompanied?

chris the cynic said...

I wonder if that does work to a certain extent.

I honestly have no idea. It just seems to me that what they're doing is basically asking, "Do you want to have sex with an asshole?" and while I'm sure that gets a pretty negative reaction most of the time, if there is anyone particularly receptive to the idea of sex with an asshole the extremely creepy openings will probably identify those people more quickly than having the assholicness come out more gradually.

Whether it works for them or not, very very creepy. It sucks that anyone has to put up with it, that so many have to so often is just ... one of the many bad things I lack the words to describe the wrongness of.

-

@Ana
Does one still offer sympathies for something you've gotten over? Because you'd certainly have them if you wanted them but they seem sort of meaningless.

It's good to hear that it doesn't bother you anymore. I can't imagine that I would ever be able to get over something like that.

Ana Mardoll said...

How cruel of them to do that to you. I'm guessing there was an immense amount of victim-blaming that accompanied?

More a complete inability on my part to explain what happened. You know how you hear these surveys where girls describe being raped but don't use that word because rape is something that happens when someone jumps out of a bush at night? Yeah. (Ties also into our last convo about keeping teenagers ignorant of sex is a Very Bad Thing.)

@Chris, thank you. I keep meaning to write up my entire life in a book -- part hilarious memoir, part "these things have happened to me, so if they've happened to you, you're not alone" -- but I'm afraid it would bother some people to read it and so I get conflicted about the writing of it. :/

chris the cynic said...

Pills not helping doesn't really mean anything more than pills not helping. Depression (and my experience is definitely not with the situational kind) doesn't always respond to treatment.

Maybe the pills didn't work because it was something that pills wouldn't help with, given what you've said it wouldn't surprise me if that were the case, but it's also possible that when pills don't work it just means that the pills didn't work.

Ana Mardoll said...

but it's also possible that when pills don't work it just means that the pills didn't work.

Very likely. Medication and I have a very dodgy history. But I didn't know that pills could help for the situationally depressed -- I learn something new every day. :)

Izzy said...

There is that.

And, admittedly, sometimes women do sleep with those guys. Nuclear war guy, from my post? Did him. Thought he was a massively entitled, histrionic asshat, but...he was cute, he was around, I was bored. (Ah, Senior Spring.) I was also in high school, a time when you often do moronic things--and people--because what the hell, Buffy's not on for another hour yet.

So I think that it works, or doesn't hurt, some of the time--if you don't mind becoming an "I can't believe I went there, WTF" story for your partner a few years down the line, like the sexual equivalent of a mullet or Members Only jacket. It probably doesn't work often, especially once you're an adult and potential partners have more choices in entertainment, but guys like that are like spammers. All they need is one or two hits out of a hundred.

It's one of those things where, if I believed in/ran Hell, there'd be a circle for those guys. (As opposed to That Guy, who takes up an entire Inferno by himself...ooh. The Nine Circles of That Guy. That sounds like a project.)

Dav said...

Izzy: Yeah, I don't entirely disagree. I do think that often deliberate-assohole people still have perceptions of themselves as something that other people would find tremendously sad, hilarious, or both. Sort of a "striking a blow against conformity" or "rebel" thing, which . . . yeah. "I don't play by your social rules" can be cool (depending on the social rules), but you have to be really careful if you're the only one who thinks you're doing anything novel. (Hint: if women refer to you as That Guy, you are not, in fact, doing anything cool and novel and rebellious.)

So they may rightly perceive themselves as assholes, but they don't understand the full-bodied foulness of how they come across.

redcrow said...

>>>the pills didn't help because they seemed to do nothing more than screw up my internal chemistry and provide helpful side effects: not being able to sleep for days on end, fainting frequently, etc.

Been there (or, at least, somewhere around there). My sympathies.

bekabot said...

Yes, that was it. Exactly.

Kit Whitfield said...

"Do you want to have sex with an asshole?"

Er - are you sure that's the phrase you wanted to use?

chris the cynic said...

I didn't think of that. I did not think of that at all.

chris the cynic said...

The thing about depression is that it's natural to feel down at times which can make it tricky to tell if someone is depressed or appropriately responding to a situation.

Even if I were suddenly magically healthy, I shouldn't be feeling all that good right now because I'm not doing things to make me feel good. Spend enough years with the inability to feel pleasure in things that you'd normally enjoy and you stop doing those things, or even stop remembering what they were. I wouldn't suddenly be happy if I were suddenly cured*.

The fact that I'm not happy isn't a sign of depression, the fact that things that ought to make me happy utterly fail to produce an emotional response or, if I'm lucky, produce an extremely muted emotional response is. As are things we've discussed elsewhere about horizons and such.

I'm not sure exactly how they tell the difference between being in a depressing situation and suffering from situational depression but I would guess that it can be difficult and I would also guess that it's a very important thing to catch because treating the second as if it is the first would mean leaving the person in unnecessary suffering.

-

*Which is not to say that the hypothetical cure depression in the blink of an eye thing wouldn't have an immediate effect on my life. I still encounter enough stuff and do enough things that if I suddenly were back to whatever normal is I'd notice that something had changed pretty fast, and once that happened I could change how I act to take advantage of that change, and that that point one could expect some happiness to start seeping in.

Karen Nilsen said...

regarding boot camps for teenagers~

I thought I should comment regarding my personal experience with this. I actually worked in the office of a therapeutic wilderness camp for the last 6 years and as a teenager, I went to a survivalist-type wilderness camp (not a boot camp--it was my choice to go, though if I'd known at the time what it entailed, I probably would have went to a different kind of camp, with cabins--I don't particularly like roughing it).

Yes, there are unregulated boot camps with the kind of horror stories Kit describes, and it breaks my heart that families and children have experienced such tragedies when seeking treatment. However, not all wilderness camps are boot camps, and the best wilderness programs (like the one I worked at) can really help teenagers struggling with depression, relationship issues, and substance abuse, as evidenced by the significant number of teenagers we treated who came back as adults to work there.

The place where I worked underwent rigorous inspection by the Dept of Health and Human Services every year (officials interviewed both clients and staff, inspected the gear and physical location, reviewed all incident reports, etc.) We had a team of licensed therapists who specialized in a wide variety of traditional therapeutic techniques. Parents and their children had regular communication via e-mail. Staff were trained and licensed in the use of therapeutic holds, only used if a child presented immediate harm to himself or others. If a kid choose to sit at the base camp and do nothing the whole time he was there, he could do that.

As someone who has struggled with PTSD since childhood, treatment doesn't work if it's coercive in any way, and I never witnessed any treatment at my workplace that seemed coercive to me. Of course, I was only in the office most of the time, but I did talk a lot to the parents and sometimes to the kids long after the fact, and no one ever mentioned anything coercive about the treatment.

As for the wilderness experience I had as a teenager, I can't say enough good things about it except that I wish it had involved a therapeutic component as I had a couple panic attacks while there. However, the wilderness itself can provide excellent therapy. I developed so much self-confidence at that program--I was so scared when I got there, especially when they had me doing things like crossing a ravine on a wire (I was on a harness attached to a higher wire, so I was perfectly safe, but still terrified). I was so pleased when I managed to cross the wire, so pleased when I figured out how to get a fire going, so pleased when I learned how to build and set traps, so pleased when I learned how to paddle a canoe . . . the self-confidence helped me start to come out of the depression that I had been in.

I do urge anyone who wants to send his or her child to any treatment program to do some research on his or her own first. Tour the program, talk to the therapists, try to connect with other families online who have been through similar experiences. It's always amazed me--and saddened me--how many parents sent their kids to our program without touring it first, especially when we encouraged them to. I couldn't imagine entrusting my child (I don't have a child, but if I did) to strangers without at least touring the facility first. For all some of the parents knew, we could have been one of those boot camps, yet they sent their kids anyway. Even with the best therapeutic treatment, such lack of parental involvement can only hurt a teenager in the long run.

DavidCheatham said...

But as you note later, the urgency of the stakes that knowledge is different. If you don't pay close attention to what you're doing, you might get turned down more than usual, or you'll get embarrassed.

That's entirely separate knowledge I haven't addressed yet. I'm fairly certain this is the major way I was speaking poorly, not clearly distinguishing the two. Which is why I'm making sure everyone understands how I'm phrasing it in the other direction first.

The stakes for women getting asked out? Sort of different. And as Izzy points out, guys may not generally be aware of how they are perceived.

As for 'perception'...that get a little tricky but, yes, a man only know of how he is perceived indirectly, whereas a woman knows how she perceive a man directly. (But not, perhaps, how other women perceive that man.)

Um, no. I don't date, and I get asked out a fair amount. Not lots, but some, and I pay very close attention when it happens. Very, very close attention.

Better phrasing on my part would have been: There are women who are not going to accept a date, and hence do not need to figure out exactly how risky a date with that person would be. (I.e., the same way I don't need to figure out how risky skydiving would be. I'm not doing that.)

Hopefully, those women are still 'paying attention' in general, for their own sake. And even extra attention to the man they just rejected a date with, as I would theorize that such a thing could set someone off. (Although this is a theory of mine based on almost no evidence. Women surely have collected more data.)

And nothing stops them from trying to figure out just how risky a date would be anyway. (I mean, they might notice something, and have a friend that later is asked by the same person.)

Gelliebean said...

@ Karen: I think your wilderness camp sounds really difficult, but at the same time very fulfilling.... By contrast, when I hear "boot camp" (out of a military context) I alway picture the Maury-type shows: "My Daughter is Out Of Control!!" where they have a drill sergeant or two come in to scream at the girls on-camera and haul them away in a prison van. Funny how it's never the boys on those shows.... :-/ I guess girls and their sobbing moms make for better TV.

Amarie said...

BLESS. YOU.

Maury and it's screaming guests are [/i]exactly[/i] what I picture when I think of those kinds of boot camps. It's not really to [/i]help[/i] the child so much as it is to gain views and ratings. I've never been a 'problem child' myself (heck, I've never even had detention) but it breaks the heart, I tell you...

Amarie said...

...Please ignore the '[/i]. This girl can't utilize italics, I swear...>.<

Izzy said...

(But not, perhaps, how other women perceive that man.)

Yes and no.

As was previously mentioned, we talk to each other. You'd better believe my immediate circle of friends knew about Skeeze-O-Tron 2000 by noon today, and their response was a pretty uniform "um, *ew*." And I've heard similar stories from them, all retold in glorious High-Def OMG Who DOES That.

There may be women somewhere who like that line*, but I'm pretty confident in saying that I *do* know how the other women I know perceive various dating strategies. Especially the bad ones.

*Or who don't dislike it enough not to sleep with the guy, which is a useful distinction.

Dav said...

I'm fairly certain this is the major way I was speaking poorly, not clearly distinguishing the two.

I think that's only part of it. To be honest, I'm kind of gobsmacked that you're not even addressing the whole "your experience is not everyone else's experience" thing that was discussed upthread, that I mentioned twice in my last post alone, and when I gave you an example of how I was not like the monolith of people you had generalized, you changed the details of your example so I could still be part of the monolith. And you're still acting like the Great Platonic Hivemind of People with the Same Gender Identity is a thing.

I don't think miscommunication is the problem: I really, genuinely disagree with what you're saying, and the way you're saying it. I'm not confused; I disagree.

DavidCheatham said...

I am sorry for behaving in a patronizing manner. I sometimes do that sometimes when I decide that no one is listening to the concepts I'm saying, and instead dissenting the words. This is, obviously, utterly idiotic behavior on my part, is usually due entirely to me saying things poorly, and hardly helps convince everyone of anything at all.(1)

I'm reminded of the XKCD link given the other day 'Someone is wrong on the internet!'. About once a year I catch myself where being 'right' is more important than actual conversation, and I've been slipping into that recently without noticing. I've actually sworn off arguing things on the internet a few times over my life, stating from now on 'I will just post, if someone disagreed with me, I will just let them be', but months later, bam, I'm typing long screeds in response to people.

It didn't help that it was a weekend and hence everyone could instantly post back and forth, which is why I left and is why I'm going to show up, write posts to existing comments, and then leave for several hours before replying to any of the replies to me.

However, I won't stop trying to 'educate', because what I was trying to comment on was how guys are taught to behave to women WRT to asking them out, which I thought, and still think, is pretty relevant to this discussion, and how some of the guys we're talking about have epically failed at or misunderstood those 'rules'.

But I was not careful in how I phrased that, and people called me on what they read in it, which I did not intend to say, but was indeed there in the text. And then I responded stupidly, and, like I said, I'm sorry.

I am now carefully and slowly trying to start over with what I attempted to say before, but this time in a hopefully better-thought-out way, and at the end I will have given my thoughts on the rules men have invented about how to behave when asking out women.

So, again, sorry for patronizing people in general and women specifically. I was trying to explain male cultural knowledge, which I thought (and still think) is relevant here, and reacted poorly after I stated some of this knowledge as fact, which was obviously rather silly on my part.

1) I know it's a bit of cliche excuse, but this patronizing is aimed at everyone. It has nothing to do with the gender of people. I hope you will think of me at least as a general jerkass then a misogynist one. But I suspect all misogynists say that, so nevermind.

Rikalous said...

"So, if you don’t really care about your audience, then what’s the point of thinking about what you put on the page?"

Well, the point could be an interest in the work itself. I don't think that Tolkien, for example, invented entire languages for the sake of the reader, I think he did it because he wanted to. I think that the main difference between LOTR and the Twilight series, in this context, is that Tolkien's standards for the books he was writing for himself were higher than Meyer's.

depizan said...

Thinking about "what message will this send my readers?" is the first step down the road to propaganda*.

I don't disagree, exactly, but I'm not sure how much fiction avoids elements of propaganda. We just notice it more when it isn't propaganda for the statis quo. (Or when it's propaganda for something we feel strongly for or against.)

Karen Nilsen said...

Reading your comments, I'm glad I've never seen the boot camp shows--for kids to be treated like that--it just boggles the mind. And on national TV no less. I wonder why Social Services or some other gov't agency hasn't gotten involved and shut those places down.

Speaking to the fascinating conversation concerning art versus propaganda and writing for oneself versus writing for audience, I find that I have to write rough drafts these days with the door closed, as Stephen King so elegantly puts it in On Writing. I used to share my works-in-progress with my critique group but have found hearing other people's opinions at that stage too distracting. I lose track of my characters' voices and instead start hearing a jumble of other people's opinions, very valid opinions, to be sure, but still opinions that can change the course of the story in subtle and not-so-subtle ways before I've even figured out what story it is I'm telling.

DavidCheatham said...

As was previously mentioned, we talk to each other.

Yeah, I wasn't trying to imply otherwise. Obviously women often know how their female friends and acquaintances perceive a man. (And, shockingly, sometimes even other men are informed also.;))

But, in this modern world, it's often easy for men to find multiple groups, and a woman who runs into a man at a concert might think he's creepy, but yet he's not creepy acting at, for example, his job. (Many people have a 'professional' facade for work.)

Even in the same circumstances, one women might be picking up some really bad vibes because of something she saw, another didn't see it, has no idea, and thinks he's fine. That was all I was saying.

DavidCheatham said...

I'm not addressing that because I've realized that I communicated what I was trying to extremely poorly, and got extremely defensive in stupid ways in responding. And standing around trying to explain what I was trying to say by using those posts is not useful to anyone and would only result in more debating.

Hence I am saying 'I apologize for what I said earlier. Please disregard it.' (I realize you might not have seen my apology yet when you posted. I should have done that first. As an aside, I hate Disqus.)

If you feel that I've used up all the time you're willing to give me, feel free to ignore me, you do not owe me any time to explain myself.

Or, if you have a problem with my posts today, or disagree with them, go ahead and, please, tell me. I will respond politely.

Although if you want a response from me beyond 'I disagree I behave like that in my post', you're going to have to give something more specific than I'm 'acting like the Great Platonic Hivemind of People with the Same Gender Identity is a thing'.

Amarie said...

At Hapax and Rikalous:

You’re absolutely right. Stephenie Meyer-and other authors-*should* be able to craft their story as they see fit. I suppose what I [rudely] tried to say was that I wished we had an author that seemed to have more than one point of view. It was that sentiment that she didn’t really care about her fans that aided in my losing my own fan status.

And as far as keeping the work, artist, and message distinct…
If I were completely honest with myself I have to say that I didn’t like the *message(s)* themselves (i.e, get married straight out of high school, be a silent sufferer, etc.) and I didn’t really like Stephenie Meyer’s attitude towards the fans’ disappointment. Yes, it’s difficult and hurtful to have to deal with criticism of your work. However, I was expecting more professional and sympathetic answers.

Again, I apologize if I appear to be intrusive, rude and demanding. I only wanted to share my experience and personal opinion with everyone. ^ ^


Oh deary me…Kit may fall out of her seat TWICE!! David apologized!!!!!!!!! :O

*carefully makes sure storm shelter is still steady…just in case*

Loquat said...

The artist's responsibility is to the art, not to those who consume the art. Thinking about "what message will this send my readers?" is the first step down the road to propaganda.

This is pretty much the exact opposite of what I was taught at a school for commercial artists. If I set out to do any kind of art for pay, the question "what will viewers take away from this?" is one of my most important considerations. Not that I'm objecting to characterizing commercial art as propaganda, mind you. It's all part of the same continuum.

@Amarie - Got room for another in that storm shelter? I'll bring fire extinguishers in case we catch any stray sparks from the incoming flames.

Will Wildman said...

So, again, sorry for patronizing people in general and women specifically. I was trying to explain male cultural knowledge, which I thought (and still think) is relevant here, and reacted poorly after I stated some of this knowledge as fact, which was obviously rather silly on my part.

Another issue here is that you think you are in a position to 'explain male cultural knowledge'. You might have noticed a significant number of men in this thread strongly disagreeing with your statements. (I don't think I've explicitly done so yet, because every time I read one of your posts I just kind of wanted to shout at you forever, and thus I refrained from posting myself as I felt it could only drag the discourse down.) You continue to act like you have an area of expertise and are in a position to explain to other people 'how things work'. You don't, you aren't, and it would be great if you could accept that and adjust accordingly.

Amarie said...

*eagerly opens up door for you*

Oh please, come on in! Especially if you have a fire extinguisher. I also have food, water, first aid kits, etc. for the Hurricane Kit and any other storms. You're more than welcome to bunk in with me! :D

Ana Mardoll said...

Will, thank you for this.

Kit Whitfield said...

Um, guys? Please stop referring to me as a hurricane. It makes me feel stereotyped and pressured to occupy a limited role.


David, thank you for your apology. I hope you'll take on board the main point people are making, which is that you tend to take a teacherly tone when it's not appropriate and need to show more respect for other people's experience being different from yours, but I appreciate the fact that you're trying to make amends.


I don’t think Stephenie Meyer thought out her books because sometimes I genuinely don’t think that she considered her audience. Mind you, I’m shifting more towards Breaking Dawn. If you read/watch the interviews, you keep seeing/reading ‘for me’, ‘for me’, ‘for me’. Ultimately, the vibe that I got was that this was an author that didn’t think she had to make sure her *published* work make sense…because she ‘wrote it for [her]self.’ ... So, if you don’t really care about your audience, then what’s the point of thinking about what you put on the page?

I'm going to defend Meyer here, which I hope you won't take as disrespecting your hurt feelings, Amarie. :-) The discussion's moved on, but I thought my perspective might interest you...

The thing is, in my experience thinking about your audience doesn't work. Writing a book takes deep concentration over a long period of time, and to keep it working, you need to keep your focus on the book because writing - I'd be prepared to bet a fiver that brain scans would confirm this - comes from a different part of the brain than the part that thinks about other people. I think it's almost physically impossible to produce your best writing while thinking about your audience. It would be like trying to juggle with your feet.

To use a slightly doubtful image: imagine you're a man who wants to become a father, and who knows his parents will be very excited to be grandparents. He may love his parents and hope they'll love the baby - but if he thinks about his dear ole mum and dad in the process of trying to make the baby ... well, he's probably not going to be able to do it. To do either, you need to achieve a certain state of, well, excitement. Thoughts that distract from that excitement stop the process.

I hope my readers like my books. Heck, I hope they're happy in their lives; the readers I've met have all been very nice. If they've been upset by something I wrote, I'm sorry to hear it. But I don't write for them, because I can't write for them. If I tried to write for them, I couldn't write at all.

I think most writers write for themselves, or at least, write by centring on themselves. Other people liking their work is a question for later in the process.

Which isn't to say, of course, that it's not upsetting to find a story you'd loved endorsing principles you abhor. I just think that Meyer saying 'for me' doesn't really make her different from any other writer.

--

*If you heard a loud crash coming from England, that may have been the sound of Kit Whitfield falling off her chair in surprise.

Tee hee. :-)

Also, I agree about challenging yourself. I'm not sure I'd go into the 'craft and theme and narrative' bit, but I know that if I don't challenge myself, I can't get into the zone.

Kit Whitfield said...

Oh - the one thing I'd say in disagreement, hapax, is about this:

This doesn't mean that I think that an artist should be self-indulgent, spinning out fantasies merely to please zirself. I mean, zie can (after all, that's what most of MY writing is, if I'm honest), and if other people like them, that's great. But to raise storytelling to an "art", an author should challenge zirself, in craft and theme and narrative, not merely shift the person zie is trying to please.

I think it's conceivable that a writer might have a sufficiently strange and powerful imagination that their self-spun fantasies might be art. I mean, I don't - my daydreams wouldn't interest anyone on the page - and it's possible too that daydreaming and imagination likewise come from different parts of the psyche ... but I wouldn't like to exclude the possibility, because you never know. :-)

Kit Whitfield said...

Because I'd bet that when you're writing characters, that's exactly the part of the brain you use.

I don't think so. I think about other people from the outside: I can't control their reactions so I have to anticipate them. Characters, I write from the inside: I control what they do, so what I write them doing is a decision, not a guess. When I'm thinking about other people, I'm thinking about people who are other; writing characters, I'm playing every part.

So yeah: bet you. Five quid says I'm right. Mind you, we'd have to hook me up to a machine, and probably that would make me too self-conscious to get in the zone anyway...

Kit Whitfield said...

Also: there really isn't a distinction between 'writing characters' and 'writing anything else'. Almost anything you write is something the characters are either doing or seeing. Take out the parts that involve 'writing characters' and you've pretty much got a bunch of blank pages.

Randy Owens said...

Yes, I kind of had that in mind that 'writing characters' would be the large part of the activity. Still, I imagine there might be times when one is working out the overall plot, or how exactly to word something, when other parts might be more active.

As for why I think the same areas would light up: mirror neurons. Those are what you would be using in both cases. See also: theory of mind.

Kit Whitfield said...

Yes, I know what mirror neurons and theory of mind are. All I can say is that it's a different sensation in my head.

Ana Mardoll said...

Hmm. I'm not a real author (I wanna be when I grow up!), but I think Kit's point as I understand it -- that the author often can't fully focus on the audience reaction while writing -- is true for me as well.

Of course, I would say (and I'm guessing Kit would concur) that that is what editing is for, as well as beta readers. One wonders if the Breaking Dawn got to a groupthink stage or... what, really? I'm sure there are fans of the series who like Breaking Dawn, but I never seem to hear from them. Maybe I need to listen more.

Izzy said...

Oh, true--true of people in general, I'd think. We're a contextual species by and large. Plus, some people have buttons that other people don't, etc.

And yeah. A fair number of my male friends get the "Oh my GOD THAT GUY" rants as well--the "female friends" thing was me specifying unnecessarily.

Izzy said...

I think there's a balance.

On the one hand, there's clarity of vision, the story and characters that you've developed, and so forth. Writing specifically for an audience can cloud these, and is probably not a good idea too often, especially--as you say--in the first draft.

On the other hand, I think it *is* important to keep in mind things like Unfortunate Implications: you do kind of want to make sure that the only sexually forward woman in your story isn't a horrible irresponsible virago (ANNE MCCAFFREY), that you haven't inadvertently gone all Magical Minority with the one POC, and so forth. That's one of the things that everyone fucks up--I love Stephen King, and his track record, especially in early books, is not great--and I'm sure I will/have, but everyone still owes the world a game-day effort *not* to fuck up.

You don't want to be writing propaganda, but at the same time, you don't want to be writing stuff that will be a slap in the face to readers who happen to be people of color/sexually open women/QUILTBAG people/etc etc.

Izzy said...

But in these cases, it is important to keep one's approval or disapproval of the artist (zir personality, religion, behavior), the story (the plot, the characters, the writing) and the message ("girls should be content to stay home and get marriage rather than to go to college"; "Unforgivable Curses are gallant when they're cast by the good guys") distinct.

Yes, though I find there is bleed-through. Especially when I know more about the authors.

I'll pick on people I like here: I don't know for sure if ignorance would have let me skip lightly over Joss Wheedon's Angry Young Existentialist Daddy Issues, Sorkin's OMG My Show Got Canceled and My Cute Blonde Christian Girlfriend Broke Up With Me Venting, or King's Hey It's Another Creative Person Getting Hit By a Car Quintology...but knowing what I did about the writers made all of those things, I think, a fuckton more annoying. Because I like your works, guys, and I might well like you as people, but I'm not paying seven bucks to join your support group.

With authors who I find personally repugnant, like Card, knowing that they're vile people makes any trace of their particular vileness stand out wildly. Even by association sometimes: reading one of the Prospero's Daughter books, I was fine with the heroine's celibacy until I found out that the writer was married to John C. Wright, full-time homophobe and sex-negative troglodyte, and then that aspect took on a whole disturbing angle and I put the damn book down.

Sometimes I'm not sure whether I disapprove of the story/message--I *could* take it this way, I could also take it the other way--and then knowing more about the artist kills off Schroedinger's literary cat, as it were.

Amarie said...

Oh, I completely understand! And sorry about the storm/hurricane reference; no more of those!! :D

And none of you were disrespecting me at all. Again, I think I'm just a young, amateur writer that still has a lot to learn. *winks* Thank you for explaining for me!

Kit Whitfield said...

You don't want to be writing propaganda, but at the same time, you don't want to be writing stuff that will be a slap in the face to readers who happen to be people of color/sexually open women/QUILTBAG people/etc etc.

This is true - but at least as I see it, that isn't necessarily about the audience either. I want to write stuff that's good, which means not writing stuff that's full of misconceptions about what people and reality are like. It is factually incorrect that POC/sexually open women/QUILTBAG people etc are worse human beings than white, sexually traditional people, so writing ugly stereotypes is bad for the work even before you get to considering the audience.

I mean, I'm not denying that 'you shouldn't poke people in the eye' is a good rule to live by, which applies to writers just like everybody else. I just think that if you try to be true in your work, you'll hopefully be reasonable - and then, of course, there's editing, where people can point out that you've screwed up as regarding race, sexuality or whatever. (Which has happened to me: my editor, who was black, remarked that she never liked 'black' as a physical description because it was too generic and implied that everyone black looked the same, or that race was the only feature the observer was taking in. I took her advice on board and remain grateful for it.)

Urgh. It's hard to say this without sounding like I'm saying, 'Hey, it doesn't matter if you write something really offensive as long as you're True To Your Vision', which is NOT what I mean at all. I just think that if you're a reasonable human being trying to be true to the world, you will hopefully understand that it's artistically wrong as well as politically incorrect to write stereotypes. And in a way, I think that understanding probably leads to better writing. I would expect a male writer whose motivation was 'I don't want to offend women' to write much worse female characters than a male writer whose motivation was 'Women are normal human beings, so [for instance] why would I want to conflate "sexually assertive" with "nasty virago"? That would be stupid.'

Izzy said...

Heh, good point--I totally agree. And you don't at all come off--at least to cisgendered straight white girl here--as saying it doesn't matter if you write stuff that's offensive. "Also, offensive stuff sucks on an artistic level" is a damn fine argument, and one that I may steal next time I get into an argument with Relentlessly Defensive Fanboy Dude.

Will Wildman said...

"Also, offensive stuff sucks on an artistic level" is a damn fine argument, and one that I may steal next time I get into an argument with Relentlessly Defensive Fanboy Dude.

For one recent example, see great swathes of the latest Doctor Who season.

I find the trickiest part when it comes to 'offensive stuff' is the stuff that is not flatly offensive but can be read in an offensive way due to circumstances. (It's that thing people sometimes call 'FedEx arrows', referring to the way the white space between the E and the x forms an arrow, simultaneously real and imaginary. I blogged about this a few weeks back.) This, I think, is the problem with Dumbledore - as a character he's fine, and there's nothing politically or morally wrong with being both gay and celibate, but in the context of a story that does not identify any other gay characters, it's kind of problematic, because now the one gay character is the only one whose romantic longings lead him toward evil and subsequently to avoid romance for the rest of his life.

This is the thing I'm more worried about falling into. In my head, it's very clear that the most prominent black character in my current work is not a Magical Negro, because she's usually focused on her own goals and does not exist to provide support to important white people, but on a superficial level, she's dark-skinned, she has greater magical abilities than most other characters, and she is not in charge. (Well, she is in charge of rather a lot of soldiers, as the last surviving general, but she is outranked by two of the other characters since they're heads of state.) I think it'll be okay, but it will continue to be on my mind as I plot for November.

Izzy said...

Yeah, I know that feeling. In Hickey, while I'm glad one of the main characters is bi, I feel rather bad about how academic that is. (Gets mentioned in a conversation, but she dates boys onscreen.) If I do a sequel, I will totally give her a female..."love interest" seems a little strong for fourteen, but certainly crush/flirtation/etc. Likewise, at some point I'd like to do more with race and class issues in my Victorian romance stuff, especially if I get a contract for more books after the current trilogy. At the moment, it's still mostly upper-class white people.

I think all we can do is try and then try to do better in the future.

For what it's worth, the character as you describe her doesn't come off as MN to me--having your own goals is a major thing there, I think--but I am very very white.

Ana Mardoll said...

Will's comment was only 12 minutes old when I started writing this.

I can only speak for myself, but I think it was worth the wait. :D

Ana Mardoll said...

Chris, I had not noticed that dynamic, and I am now unashamedly stealing all of your awesome for when that post comes up. Because you're 100% right: "maybe next time" is world's better than "can't you go some other weekend". Heck, I *like* maybe next time. I'm in text it will seem like I AM A CREEPY, CREEPY STALKER because there is no other type of boy in Forks, but divorced from the text there it seems like you say: nice, confident, easy-going. No hard feelings. I like it.

Gelliebean said...

"What do you mean, she said no?"

Edward's eyes flashed anger as he stepped closer to Mike, forcing the other boy back against the wall. He already knew Bella's answer, had known it as soon as she said it; but like always, he'd had to pretend he knew nothing until Mike came to tell him.

"She - she said she wasn't going to the dance," Mike stammered. "She said I should go with Jessica." He looked down, at the ground between his shoes, and Edward could hear every scrap of thought that flew through his mind.

"Obviously you weren't interested in being that convincing," Edward said, and Mike flushed red. "You'll have plenty of other opportunities to see Jessica. Why can't you persuade one shy, homebody of a girl to go out with you? She should be jumping at the chance."

"Look, I'll give you your money back -"

"Don't bother. You already spent it."

"How did you -"

"I hear things." No need to explain to Mike exactly how Edward had 'heard' the information. "Don't worry about the money. I have more. Go play with your new girlfriend."

Mike stiffened, looking like he was about to throw a punch. Edward tracked every detour of Mike's train of thought. ...like to knock his teeth in... no, shouldn't start fights.... smart-ass bastard deserves it.... what if someone's watching?

When he was sure Mike had decided against hitting him, Edward smirked and walked off. Strike one down, but he still had options. Eric had been sniffing around... and there was always Tyler with his guilt trip, who should be easy to manipulate if all else failed.

One way or another, he'd get that girl to leave him alone.

Ana Mardoll said...

@Deoridhe, don't hide! I loved your post! Read it twice, in fact! (I missed that pandagon incident. I'll have to read that, thank you.)

Ana Mardoll said...

Gelliebean, a whole new reason for Edward to be frustrated? I'm ecstatic!!

Deoridhe Grimsdottir said...

Pandagon is more one of the placed that did an overview thank where it happened. I was looking for the original post where Dawkins spoke up to say that since women wore burkas in the middle East that Skepchick shouldn't point out that asking someone up to your room at 4am in an elevator is creepy and guys shouldn't do it, but I can't remember the name of the blog.

There's apparently a secondary horror where Skepchick named a female blogger who agreed with Dawkins at a public speech and how this makes Skepchick somehow horrible so lets talk about how horrible she is instead of how unreal it is that lots of guys get upset at women pointing out something is creepy and recommending you don't do what he did... but honestly by then I was distracted by the protests in New York, so I'm not as clear on the details.

Silver Adept said...

Re-tracking backward quite a bit (for I am not a writer, although I'm sure some part of me believes he is),

@Amarie - what kind of world have we created (or are mirroring) where a character is considered brave and full of backbone simply by complaining about their situation - and they will suffer no serious negative consequences for doing so? (Because the oppressed person complaining does show backbone if there will be dogs and fire hoses set upon them for doing so, f'rex.) That doesn't even raise Bella to the level of Faux Action Girl - she's a No Action Girl, but we're supposed to believe she's strong and brave?

Perhaps I'm too jaded by Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly to believe that's possible.

Anyway, all I can say is that I'm fascinated to hear the writers discuss their craft and the balancing acts of writing characters that are well-developed but that also sidestep stereotype and don't hit the pitfalls of alienating the audience. (With the caveat that sometimes those characters need to hit those to be consistent for purposes of plot or development.)

Kit Whitfield said...

TW: partner abuse

@Amarie - what kind of world have we created (or are mirroring) where a character is considered brave and full of backbone simply by complaining about their situation - and they will suffer no serious negative consequences for doing so? (Because the oppressed person complaining does show backbone if there will be dogs and fire hoses set upon them for doing so, f'rex.)

I can't speak for Amarie, but I think part of the issue may be that a woman in real life does often face negative consequences for complaining. They may not be as serious as dogs and fire hoses (though abusive partners will often assault a woman verbally or physically for answering back), but even in ordinary cases, it's quite common that a woman's complaints will be put down to personality where a man's will be taken as a comment on the situation. If you've ever watched an Internet discussion of sexism, you'll probably be familiar with the fact that some men don't let women make even the mildest suggestion that even the most egregious incident was sexist without attacking the woman, and such men are far from rare. Women can police each other too. Women are expected to speak nicely, and face social opprobrium if they don't.

So in that situation, complaining may take more courage than you'd think. It's effectively an act in itself: it's raising your voice and refusing to comply with the role imposed on you.

Bella, of course, only complains in the privacy of her own thoughts. That's backbone only insofar as it shows she's resisting inside her head - but it's a start. It's just a very little one.

Amarie said...

To Silver and Kit:

Yes, that was how I interpreted Bella’s complaining when I was a fan. Although, I admit that I initially saw it not as an issue of sexism, but just in the context of having the power to be liked when you’re wholly unlikable. I think the world that we created/mirrored is a world where women are still either expected to a) lie down and be complacent to just let life happen to them (usually via men) or b) act as a ‘true feminist’ that bitches and gripes and blusters and digs her feet in the entire way. There is absolutely no` middle ground. In the case that Kit explains (when men and women discuss sexism), women are taught to go with choice ‘a’. Oh, and Kit…in the rest of the series, Bella complains quite a lot outside of her head. *winks*

Unfortunately, I think that Stephenie Meyer tried to make Bella choice ‘b’. Take for example, Bella’s complaints about have a birthday party in New Moon. I think from Mrs. Meyer’s point of view, Bella’s complaints are valid. Primarily, this is because we’re working with a girl that is wonderfully selfless and would properly die if any attention was spotlighted on her. What’s more is that, from a storyline point, the fact that the Cullen’s can afford to give a nice birthday party is yet another opportunity to exalt them (mainly Edward) and degrade Bella; she can’t afford to give them back (materialistically) what they give to her, and so she’s lower than them. Another point that I think was trying to be made was to lift the story from its rather boring/non existent plot. I’ve always thought that one of the main points of Bella’s whining is to create the illusion that there *is* a plot.

Of course, everything backfires on itself and none of what Mrs. Meyer intended works. To begin with, feminism has little to do with being needlessly neurotic, last time I checked. As far as the selfless themes go, it doesn’t make sense. Bella eventually goes along with the birthday party-and anything else-because we see that Bella doesn’t really care in the first place and just wants to get it over with. Well, for one to be selfless in this sense, one must have had to want a birthday party in the first place. There must be *something* given up for there to be a selfless theme. If nothing is there to begin with, then nothing can be given up. Furthermore, Bella is actually being *selfish* because her sour mood ruins so much of the fun for everyone else; everyone else wants to be a bright, shining star, and here she is doing her best to be a black hole. As far as the ‘exalt/degrade’ factor goes…that’s incredibly shallow. I think we can all agree here that there’s more to being equal to someone than being able to buy them something. A protagonist that doesn’t stop to think about this is a protagonist that is quite simple-minded to have such standards and, as a result, appears to be very miserable. When you talk about Bella’s lack of amicability as a plot device, that *does* make sense if you have someone that can’t really craft an interesting story. Vampires or no vampires…there are only so many ways to make a quiet birthday party interesting. And the birthday party in New Moon isn’t the only aspect that’s quite uninteresting. So, when you have Bella’s complaining, you feel that you’re reading *something* because Bella is seemingly trying to go in a different direction than everyone else. When she doesn’t get that direction, she whines. And when she whines, you think that there’s conflict. When you think there is conflict you think there is plot. To me, it doesn’t work because so much of what she complains about is so incredibly trivial and/or you see that she either honestly doesn’t care that much, and/or she never really had a problem with the issue to begin with.

Izzy said...

I *can* see ways to play up the "we are going to give you a party, because we can afford it and you can't" angle: condescending or snide comments from the hosts, the recipient's own tastes being brushed aside in favor of the party-giver's, and so forth. It could work very well in a historical novel--Great-Aunt Snotty gives Niece of Dubious Background a coming-out party, and similar--but I'm going to go ahead and assume Meyer does none of the above.

Likewise, I can absolutely see the conflict between someone who really really doesn't like being the center of attention and someone who assumes that everyone loves it deep down and acts accordingly. I've seen that happen in RL with some of my shyer friends, and yeah, there's definitely conflict there. But I'm not anticipating that happening, or being done particularly well, in New Moon. Cynical me. ;)

Ana Mardoll said...

@Deoridhe, back from the linkage and...wow. Between this and the PA thing linked earlier, my head just exploded. Thank you.

Timothy (TRiG) said...

And now I've realised that I've been "Liking" posts, thinking they'd be added to my list of liked posts, while not signed in. This is why I shouldn't read your blog in work.

TRiG.

Ana Mardoll said...

@TRiG

Here? http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/07/oh_no_not_againonce_more_unto.php

Thank goodness for Myers, but so sad on the Dawkins response because... yeah. :(

I really MUST stop finding out about this stuff months after it happens. Must read more blogs.

chris the cynic said...

I was looking for the original post where Dawkins spoke up to say that since women wore burkas in the middle East that Skepchick shouldn't point out that asking someone up to your room at 4am in an elevator is creepy and guys shouldn't do it, but I can't remember the name of the blog.

Ok two things, the first is that I've located the post. I'll be putting the link at the end of this post because it's vitally important that everyone read thing two before following the link.

Thing two, it's worse than you remembered. It's a lot worse than you remembered. I feel like the trigger warning needs a trigger warning for the misogyny is very bad. He uses systemic misogyny, genital mutilation and the practice of stoning women to death as the centerpiece of of his dismissiveness for the elevator incident by implying that Skepchick thought what happened to her was worse to the point that none of the stuff he brought up mattered in the least. Because apparently the suffering of women in the Islamic world is nothing more than rhetorical flourish for him to dismiss at home concerns.

Trigger warning [all of the above]:
http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011/07/always_name_names.php#comment-4295492

Amarie said...

At Izzy:

Nyahahaha!! Cynical cheers, my friend! Cynical cheers! >:D

As far as my last post went…I couldn’t add/edit what I wanted to. Forgive me; I wrote it in the morning and had to go to school in less than half an hour, haha.

To continue my speculation:

In regards to how Bella’s whining and complaining correlates to women in real life, I think that it’s yet another paradigm. And that paradigm is that ‘women don’t mean what they say…especially when they say “no”’. Over and over and over again, Bella is verbally throwing tantrums and digging her heels in…while simultaneously being compliant to The Plan overall. It’s damaging and frustrating because it asserts that women:

• Can *only* refuse via what they say; they can never refuse through their actions because that’s not in their range of power in a patriarchal system
• Don’t really have choice(s) because they must comply with whatever plan their men/god lays out for them in the end
• Truly have no voice because that voice is never serious (ultimately, they are infantilized)

Yet Twilight takes such a degrading paradigm and-much like anything else that’s dark/dysfunctional-treats it as something to be desired and coveted. It’s clearly communicated to us that Bella’s neuroticism is Bella’s ‘strength’.

Makabit said...

" I was looking for the original post where Dawkins spoke up to say that since women wore burkas in the middle East that Skepchick shouldn't point out that asking someone up to your room at 4am in an elevator is creepy and guys shouldn't do it, but I can't remember the name of the blog."

I presume that by the same logic, because people are vanished off the streets and murdered in Syria, Dawkins shouldn't complain if the cops punch him a few times when they arrest him for jaywalking.

Ana Mardoll said...

The thing that bothered me most wasn't the initial "someone has it worse elsewhere, so shut up" argument. I mean, yes, that was 100% *completely* dreadful, but it was OBVIOUSLY dreadful. I mean, it takes 2 seconds to explain why this philosophy means that Richard Dawkins can never complain about anything ever again. Duh.

No, the worst part for me was "oh, elevators can be dangerous? here's how you get off an elevator" post. F-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-what?! What? What! What.

The feature-not-a-bug here is that women are blamed no matter what they do. I really want Richard Dawkins and Dan Rottenberg to sit down in a room and not leave until they come to an agreement exactly what level of fear we are "allowed" to exhibit.

(Dan Rottenberg, in case you don't know what I'm talking about: http://www.anamardoll.com/2011/06/jeers-why-wont-you-women-stop-getting.html )

I mean, we'd still break the rule by exhibiting the wrong amount of fear and it would be business as usual, but at least there would be a RULE. *sigh*

chris the cynic said...

I keep on hesitating to say this because I'm not sure, but I think I might have located Eric's contractually obligated creepy thing. And if I did it sort of ties into other stuff we've been talking about. But like I said, I'm not sure.

The conversation between Eric and Bella takes place in the parking lot of indeterminacy. On the one hand I don't have a good idea of what that means because, as a pedestrian, I have no first hand experience of what a high school parking lot is like. On the other hand that shouldn't matter because all that matters is this one fictional parking lot, unfortunately I don't have a good idea of what that means because of the text.

I have no idea if this is a parking lot loaded down with a sea of faces engaged in casual conversation where help would be close at hand if needed, or if it's a largely empty area where one feels isolated and vulnerable. I don't know if students are fleeing the school so focused on getting out that they are unaware of their surroundings, or if they're strolling out taking everything in. I have absolutely no idea about what the non-Bella non-Eric people are doing. (Except Edward, Edward is being a creepy stalker, but I think you could probably say that about any given scene and have it be true.)

Eric meets Bella at her truck. Without context I don't know if that's an ambush on the isolated Bella, or if that's a relatively safe public place to have a conversation.

I do know that when Eric was an unidentified tall dark figure (for some reason I pictured him as short) Bella was frightened. That makes it seem like not a safe place. That said, when Bella realized it was Eric that fear went away, she didn't even feel the need to pay much attention to him as she unlocked her door and prepared to leave. So if Eric was counting on his prior relationship to make his approaching her there not scary, it worked. Though actually asking her to the dance caught her off guard.

So I'm really not sure of the dynamic at work there.

-

Meeting her in the parking lot makes me think of an extremely creepy thing where her truck is the last thing in there and they're all alone, but that's not the case. Eric and Bella appear to be among the first people out. Also, based on Bella seeing Eric ahead of time, and the lack of complexity involved in her getting into her truck while carrying on a conversation with Eric, they're standing in plain view of anyone coming out of the same building as Bella or other nearby buildings (the school is in multiple buildings right?) which should be most everyone who was in said buildings, but how many people, and how close they get and how long they linger I don't know.

The text is pretty silent on context.

depizan said...

I know it's wrong to wish ill on other people, but I'm not sure asshats like Dawkins or Rottenberg will ever get it unless they're put in a similar situation. They seem to be, at the least, empathy-impaired.

Ana Mardoll said...

Chris, right on the nose, I think. I was thinking about it last night and came to a similar conclusion. It's all about context.

Dezipan, the odd thing is that I think they *must* have been in a similar situation. I mean, surely someone famous-and-controversial like Richard Dawkins has had SOMEONE crowd him in a confined space or follow him a little too closely or otherwise have threatening body language. Of course, it's not the same, because if someone beat up Richard Dawkins, he'd be believed, BUT still, no one wants to be beat up. So I think that he almost must have had the same experience and yet lacks the ability to put together that THIS THING is a little like THAT THING.

Why is that so hard? I've read his work -- he's not an idiot, and he doesn't lack an imagination. That's why it's so disappointing. Maybe it's as simple as wanting to be trolly on the internet (I'ma gonna leave a COMMENT!) but it seems especially odd because it wasn't a "Richard Dawkins" issue. Maybe he made it personal because he thought he needed to circle the wagons for the (male) atheists and point out that OH YEAH THE RELIGIOUS PEOPLE ARE WAY WORSE TO WOMEN SO SHUT UP. Or something. (Trigger warning, as per chris above: Juvpu, va vgfrys, jnf n ovg bs n fgergpu orpnhfr STZ vf zber bs n phygheny guvat -- nf V haqrefgnaq vg -- guna n Zhfyvz guvat. V pbhyq or jebat. )

It just smacks of zero thought whatsoever followed by troll scrambling.

depizan said...

The thing is, people had already done plenty of explaining what the problem was by the time he opted to be a dick. Either he didn't read the comments or he is completely and utterly incapable of putting himself in the shoes of a woman. Or, worse, he wants to have the right to be creepy to women.

Frankly, his attitude toward Islam screams racism, so I'm not too surprised to find out he's an asshat in general.

Ana Mardoll said...

Yeah, I'm pretty sure "Muslima" is not the proper way to address an unknown/fictional Muslim woman. I could be wrong.

chris the cynic said...

I think that there's a lot of things going on with him in general and that post in particular. I don't really want to touch his attitude towards Islam, not even with a stick. I do have some speculation on why is was so against recognizing the idea that the guy in question was being creepy.

In spite of reports to the contrary, there is not a Man Guidebook which explains proper dating techniques. Which means that, for example, "Elevators are scary," is not common knowledge. Well, it wasn't, it is now. Or more common at any rate.

For me that was a big part of what I took away from the initial incident because the other stuff I would never do anyway. But the elevator thing, that was news to me. Because to me elevators are not scary. Crowded places are scary. Never knowing who might be watching or who might be listening is scary. Elevators are safe. Elevators are a place where you can have a one on one conversation with someone without a constant fear of who might be standing behind you or what they might do.

I would not ask a stranger to my room for coffee at four in the morning anywhere, but before this happened it never occurred to me an elevator would be a worse place to ask than elsewhere. Which means that, while I might not be creepy stranger, I could definitely see myself being "Suddenly creepy friend who waited to ask me out until I was trapped in a box with him away from all witnesses," because it had never occurred to me to think of elevators in that way, instead I've always thought of them as a place where you can be yourself.

The revelation that elevators are scary has taught me to consider things I never really thought of before. It's not exactly that it got me to understand the concept of Schrodinger's rapist, it's not exactly that it made me realize that what it is safe and non threatening for me could be completely different for someone else. I'm not sure what it was exactly. Somehow it changed my perspective in a way that made those other realizations possible. I knew all of this in the abstract before, but somehow I still manged to not really get it. Then all of a sudden it was, "Wait. Elevators? Really? Damn..." and it finally clicked.

(The truly disturbing part is that I thought it had already clicked, ages ago. Which makes me wonder what else I don't get yet.)

Ok, so to try to bring this whole thing back towards Dawkins, I heard the story of the creepy guy in the elevator and saw myself in the place of the creepy guy. This required modifications to make it work, but I definitely saw myself being creepy. I think Dawkins did the same thing. I think he heard the description of creepy guy and he saw himself in it.

My reaction was to be thankful I found out about this before I did something creepy in an elevator. (Or elsewhere, but my thankfulness started small and worked outward.)

I think Dawkins' reaction was to say, "What the hell are you talking about. I'm not creepy! I'll show you who's creepy!" and point very, very far away from himself.

I don't know for sure that that's what happened, but it seems to me that in my position I had two options, admit, "I'm apparently creepy," and try to change, or say, "That's not creepy!" defensively. I couldn't really deny the connection because I'm the one who made it. Dawkins response seems to me like a very extreme version of the, "That's not creepy!" option.

-

I would be tempted to offer an alternative that he's saying that atheists can do no wrong, since that would also yield a response of, "That's not creepy!" but he's pretty explicitly slamming another atheist. So it doesn't seem to be the movement that he's trying to shield from blame.

Ana Mardoll said...

I heard the story of the creepy guy in the elevator and saw myself in the place of the creepy guy. This required modifications to make it work, but I definitely saw myself being creepy. I think Dawkins did the same thing. I think he heard the description of creepy guy and he saw himself in it.

I think that's very likely, and I think that's probably what Anthony was saying in the PA thread (IIRC) which is that hearing that something you've been doing or could have done or could see yourself doing can be VERY uncomfortable.

I've had that reaction, and I think it's possible that everyone has. WHAT? THAT'S WRONG? NU-UH! The hardest thing about understanding other people, I think, is being able to step away from the conversation, think quietly, take the other person seriously, and then say, "Well, I never thought about that before. Thank you for speaking up."

Doesn't mean you agree with them. Doesn't mean you'll do what they say. But means that you are taking their experience seriously. I would have liked to see that from Dawkins (and the PA guys!), but I'm not perfect myself so...there's that. I can be disappointed, though. :(

Now, having said that, the people who started posting WHO WILL WE PICK UP GIRLS IF WE CAN'T USE ELEVATORS ANYMORE *baffled* me. One commenter pointed out that if space aliens picked that exact thread to observe human behavior, they'd assume that 75% of human relationships were started in elevators at 4am. How odd.

Izzy said...

Ugh, yes. The "but how will I get my dick wet if I can't be a creepy asshat" argument always come out in discussions of...not being a creepy asshat...and I always want to punch them.

Ana Mardoll said...

The other thing nice about "Well, I never thought about that before. Thank you for speaking up," is that even if you don't agree with the *solution* (DON'T PICK UP GIRLS IN ELEVATORS AT 4AM WHEN THEY ARE ALONE AND ALREADY SAID THEY WERE TIRED OF BEING PICKED UP), you can agree with the *problem* and come up with a different solution.

For instance, one commenter suggested "Single Night" atheist conferences and "No Picking Up" nights so it would be extra-super-clear that the women attending really, really, REALLY did not want to be picked up and were just there for the lectures.

Whether you like that solution or not, it takes the *problem* seriously in a way that Dawkins' response...didn't.

Kit Whitfield said...

Ugh, yes. The "but how will I get my dick wet if I can't be a creepy asshat" argument always come out in discussions of...not being a creepy asshat...and I always want to punch them.

Especially as being creepy is not, in fact, a good way of getting laid.

The blogger Greta Christina (who, for the record, I often disagree with) made a very good point about this whole business. She said that if you listened with non-freaking-out attention, most of the women saying 'Don't hit on me in an elevator' or, more generally, 'Don't hit on me when I'm cornered' were, in fact, giving men good advice about how to get laid. If a man accepts and follows it, he'll probably have more success in his love life.

The fact that so many men pitched a tantrum about getting such reasonable advice is pretty strong evidence that, whatever they say they want, getting laid is not actually their main aim. Their main aim is to preserve the male privilege of demanding that women stay silent if you make them uncomfortable.

Izzy said...

Pretty much.

While talking about Inappropriate Comment LARPer with a friend of mine, she brought up the same thing: what he said *isn't* what you say when you want to hit on a girl. It's what you say when you're a Cat Piss Man on a power trip, because how dare girls be attractive around you and not pay any attention to you.

This seems like the same sort of thing.

And it does lend credence to my theory that most guys who care about not being creepy have learned what is and isn't creepy by now--because a lot of them *don't* care, or actively want to be creepy, or whatever.

Which, in turn, makes me want to kill people.

Ana Mardoll said...

...or, even if you're inclined to be SUPER-charitable, their main goal is not having to re-examine or change their behavior. Even if doing so *would* conceivably get them laid more often.

We would perhaps call this an Acceptable Risk Level in my day job. Sure, there's a 70% chance that my current strategy to meet women will fail, and a modification of my behavior may improve my odds to a mere 40% chance of failure (or whatever), but behavior modification is hard and -- in the person's mind -- may not carry an acceptable level of ROI (return on investment).

Of course, as PZ Myers points out, this means you are not a Decent Human Being because you are basically saying you get to behave however you want regardless of how threatened it makes other people feel.

Ana Mardoll said...

And it does lend credence to my theory that most guys who care about not being creepy have learned what is and isn't creepy by now--

Well, Chris, and others I respect, have pointed out that they genuinely didn't know about elevators, but they do now. I actually think it can be hard to imagine being in a heightened level of risk assessment at all times if you're not used to it. The difference is, well, listening to people. :D

Brin Bellway said...

I feel sorry for this thread. It's been waiting at 199 for over seven hours, not quite able to make it to the nice round number. Here, thread, have a milestone.

Ana Mardoll said...

Is this our first 200 post thread? I feel like it is. *shivers*

chris the cynic said...

Magical, isn't it?

Ana Mardoll said...

It's like Christmas and summer vacation all at once.

Brin Bellway said...

At first I wanted to wait and let someone with actual proper content have the first 200th comment, but it was looking like nobody would. I figured better to have it be pure meta than leave it so close.

(Was I the first 100th commenter as well? I suspect I was. But I had things to say that time, and the "Look, I'm the hundredth comment!" was a parenthetical much like this one.)

Brin Bellway said...

Chris Witham the Random Rambler (who is probably also a cynic, but I don't know for sure): It looks like they pop back out with the next post though, which is better than disqus sometimes is.

*pokes hole where my post should be*

Rikalous said...

In Australia, you get that every year!

Will Wildman said...

In Australia, you get that every year!

By the transitive principle, living in Australia is like getting 200 comments on your blog posts every day! They should try putting that on tourism posters, to attract a larger contingent of the geek demographic.

Also in some places there are kangaroos. I'm not sure where that fits in the metaphor.

hapax said...

It's like Christmas and summer vacation all at once.

Isn't that what happens when you turn out the lights, look into a mirror, and say, "ASLAN ASLAN ASLAN"?

Ana Mardoll said...

By the transitive principle, living in Australia is like getting 200 comments on your blog posts every day! They should try putting that on tourism posters, to attract a larger contingent of the geek demographic.

That sounds about right, actually. :D

hapax said...

Oh heck, I crossed the streams.

Prepare for total protonic reversal.

pfffffzzzpt

renniejoy said...

and Rebecca Watson herself, though i don't have those links handy. :(

sorry about the html mess-up

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