Unwelcome advances

I was writing the email in my head. “I’m not coming because your flirting creeps me out.” I am not used to men making passes, and I was angry and upset: I cycled like the wind because my anger physically invigorated me.

I have said I am not interested, clearly. “I am gynephile”, I said, and proceeded to explain that. And he keeps doing it, and yet again as a trans woman I am learning things cis women learn in their teens. It was so enlightening talking to Mhairi.

Mhairi told me of ceilidhs in Steòrnabhagh. There were the young men, who you wanted to dance with, and the old men- say, 35 or over- who wanted to dance with you. Some you might do Strip the Willow with, but not a St Bernard’s Waltz as a ballroom hold would be fatal. You would set a boundary, but even if they crossed it you would take pains to care for their feelings: you find an excuse to stop dancing. You need to keep the peace. You will need to socialise with them later.  Some men could be vindictive, feeling insulted if you would not give yourself to them and finding ways to punish you. It is your responsibility to extricate yourself, and let them down as gently as possible.

So I can’t punch him on the nose, then. That is a man’s reaction.

He hints to me that he can get me what I want- even, financial security, though that seems mere fantasy. The more I think about it, the more impossible it seems. Something less, though, but still something I really want: he hints to me that I could be useful, that I could do something worthwhile. Increasingly, though, I don’t see that is possible either. He wants to tell me I am beautiful, to hold my hand, possibly to hold more of me. He has discussed an “open relationship” with his wife, he tells me. She is very friendly to me. She knows how to manage him, I suppose, knows his faults and foibles and how to get what she wants, what she mun put up with. The relationship might be happily co-operative, or a constant striving for mastery- I find it harder to understand how the latter could appeal to anyone, but it appears that it does to some.

It worries me that it turned me on, a bit; but Mhairi is only as sympathetic as she reasonably can be. That too is for me to deal with.

My self-concept is involved. “I am not the kind of person who-” In that imagined email, I got on my high horse. “Even if a woman was positively delighted that her husband had found another woman,” I expatiated, sententiously, “because it stopped him bothering her, and put a spring in his step-

I would still not want to be that other woman.” That might be moral disapproval, or a feeling of being dishonoured, or otherwise completely unrelated to reality. We are civilised beings, and we are animals. I wrote that my No, my tendency to withdraw and hide, is far too strong- but I really can’t see any other way to deal with this.

Later- I had agreed to go over again, and I have not. What happened? He took my hand, lightly enough that I could pull away but not actually letting go. I did not pull away, did not particularly indicate discomfort that I felt. I then went home and felt so enraged that I wanted to tell everyone what a vile pervert he is. Now I just withdraw from the situation. None of this is satisfactory to me. Perhaps I might learn and find better ways of responding, but right now I just want to hide away: hiding is the best way I have found of managing my feelings. Though when I was engaged with X I realised after that I had not been obsessively thinking about Y, which was a relief; and practice, rather than analysis, might be a better way of finding my way forward.

Aubrey Beardsley, illustration for the Oscar Wilde play Salome

7 thoughts on “Unwelcome advances

  1. Yes, yes, yes. Practice will do that. Your reactions sound perfectly normal to me, bearing in mind my own and other females as we experienced such behaviour from the opposite sex at first. And later too, because it depends on the male in question sometimes too. I’ve always found women who have come on to me to be very polite when I wasn’t keen myself. There was no ‘pushing’ like men will do. That’s not to say no woman would behave like that, but society has bred ‘the fun of the chase’ into some males. Hence ‘no means no’ being an issue. Great post Clare.

    esme waving from upon the Cloud

    Liked by 1 person

    • I could do with being in a cloud at the moment: at 3am I went outside to cool down.

      A woman told me that decades before her partner had said to her, “You look as if you would make a good lesbian”, and they had been together ever since.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. This post should be required reading for some men! You so eloquently expressed the entire sequence of feelings that so many women feel when they’re being aggressively pursued by someone they’ve turned down! It’s such a violation of our boundaries, and yet we feel compelled to appease them…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. One would think that saying no is easy, but no it’s not for even if “she” likes flirting from a male she may not at all times want to be sees as “she – a sexual partner/object” … love the post, Clare


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