Tropes: The Real Me

[Content Note: Entitled Behavior]

There isn't really a proper deconstruction today, and I'm sorry for that. I've been kind of swamped with the filibuster work (because I'm so close and really just want to finish) and also my cough is still lingering which means medicated cough syrup which means sleepy-head. But! I did have a thing I wanted to talk about, that maybe you all will want to talk about too! (Discuss! Or not, lol.)

Husband has got us watching House, M.D. which... yeah. Ya'll can probably imagine how much I yell at the screen because it's about a privileged asshole who feels like medical consent is for ninnies, but it's also one of those properties where there are enough laughs and I like the actors involved well enough that I keep watching. So that's nice, your mileage may vary, etc.

But! We watched an episode last night (Insensitive) where Dr. Lisa Cuddy (Dean of Medicine, Dr. House's boss, and generally awesome) goes on a first date with a nice guy she meets on a dating site. Dr. House, being that he's an asshole, keeps interrupting her date and she sees through his bullshit and tells him to leave her alone because she's enjoying herself and he can live with it, so there. And it's really a great scene, and I'm fist-pumping along because yeeeaaah! You tell him, lady. Etc.

But then her date gets all pissy with her about being passionate about her job before revealing that his real issue is that she's passionate about telling off House. He's upset that she's more reserved around him, a guy she doesn't know from Adam, than she is around House, a man she's worked with for years and has a complex friendship with:

I don't know whether it's House, your job, or you just thrive on conflict, but you should hear yourself when you're talking to him. Nothing else in the world's going on. You're focused, confident, compelling. Don't take this the wrong way, but I'd like to go out with that woman.

And now I'm groaning at the TV because I have heard this speech eleventy billion times before from men about wanting--no, demanding--to see "The Real [Me]", as though I'm being fundamentally dishonest or hiding my true feelings if I don't disclose every detail of my life on our first meeting.

It takes a truly, truly, astonishing level of privilege to assume that everyone walking around today could safely disclose everything about themselves to a stranger for the sake of instant honesty and intimacy. Every thought I think, every feeling I feel, every painful past memory, every aspect of who I am laid bare for others to poke and prod and consume for their own pleasure.

And it takes even more privilege to insist that people not only should walk around with their open selves on their sleeve at all times (any failure to do so is dishonest! a moral failing! a sign of immaturity! or of hidden feelings they can't deal with yet but totally should! please let me diagnose you as an amateur psychologist!), but that they should also be expected to disclose-on-demand anything else that might be demanded of them by a random privileged stranger.

The "real me"--like the real a-lot-of-us--is more complex than one mood in one interaction with one person. For most of us, it takes years of interaction, under a variety of settings and situations in order to intimately understand what makes us tick. The demand that all of us, particularly those of us whose viewpoints aren't constantly privileged in mainstream media (and, indeed, whose viewpoints are constantly flattened and minimized and two-dimensionalized in the same mainstream media), provide a window into the soul on demand is dehumanizing garbage.

Expecting a woman to have the same relationship with you on the first meeting as she does with a man she's been friends with for the better part of a decade--and then holding it against her when she doesn't--is unreasonable, entitled, patriarchal nastiness.


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