The Fish In The Pond Do Not Exist For You To Eat

(NOTE: Based on time elapsed since the posting of this entry, the BS-o-meter calculates this is 6.03% likely to be something that Ferrett now regrets.)

I got asked recently how I felt about women only agreeing to meet new dates at BDSM munches.  It’s problematic, they said, because some people in the community don’t want to risk being outed by being at a public place with a bunch of openly-kinky people.
The thing is, on one level that’s an entirely legitimate question:  What happens if the people you want to date are only willing to meet you in ways that you’re uncomfortable with?  And the answer is, “Then you shouldn’t date those people.”
Which is sad.  It’s always sad when you can’t date someone because they have criteria in place that filter you out.  I have a huge crush on a porn star who never dates outside of the business, and that makes for Sad Ferretts.  I have a huge crush on a femdom who can only date submissive men; that makes for Sad Ferretts.  I have at least two women who I’ve had wonderful scenes with at conventions who don’t do long-distance relationships, and that makes for Sad Ferretts.
But there was something about the question that rubbed me the wrong way.  I’ve read that question over five times (and I’m specifically not pointing you at it because I don’t feel like having this poor dude’s words dissected by a potentially-hostile crowd). But…
…I felt a certain outrage buried in that question.
I felt like there was an entitlement lurking within his words. As though women?  Existed to date him.  And like they were committing some sort of crime by filtering him out before they even gave him a shot.
And even if I’m misreading him (which I could be), I know a fair amount of guys who do actually believe that.  The older dudes being upset that they can’t circulate at the young people’s munches.  The guys seriously upset that nobody at the swingers’ clubs are interested in meeting up with unknowns.  The MRAs who are furious at the model-quality bitches who aren’t interested in talking to them.
Again: That sucks.  I’ve been in shallow dating pools.  I’ve been the guy who can’t get a date because nobody wanted to date the pudgy weirdo.  I’ve experienced your pain.   And still….
Women do not exist for you to date.
A person does not exist to maximize your shot at fucking them.  Treating them as though they’re committing some sort of violation by refusing to give you *your* shot reduces them to an object; they exist as some sort of sexy wrench to unstick your pipes, and by failing to carry out that function they have invalidated themselves.
No.  What people exist for is to maximize their happiness.
The way they do that is by filtering out things that are unlikely to make them happy.
When I go to the movies, I don’t watch foreign dramas because past experience has shown I find them boring; I go to Guardians of the Galaxy instead.  When I go out to a restaurant, I don’t go to fast food places because I find them greasy and uncomfortable.
Which isn’t to say that I’m correct!  There’s definitely some foreign dramas I might enjoy!  (Try Oldboy.  Those Korean directors are magnificently fucked up.)  And maybe somewhere there’s an awesome McDonald’s with comfortable chairs and waiters and a menu with hamburgers that don’t taste like old cardboard.
Yet the question is not, “Would I enjoy some foreign dramas?”
The question is, “If I am spending my time watching movies, what movie category is most likely to deliver me a movie I enjoy?”
I can watch a hundred hours of French drama and like maybe one movie.  But I can watch a hundred hours of guys in skin-tight suits punching aliens and love thirty of them.
Call me shallow.
Yet based on those preferences, it’s an entirely sane move for me to go, “Yeah, I’m not watching French drama.  It’s just not productive for me.”  Which is unfair to the makers of French dramas, who rely to some extent on my paycheck, and may never be able to make a drama again if I can’t rally my friends to buy tickets to see *Le Frottage: The Master Of Rubby-Orlais.*
But you know what?
I am not obligated to make anyone happy but me.
And it is not wrong for me to say, “I don’t want to bother giving your French drama two hours of my life.  It might be as awesome as you claim.  But I have better leads, and an awful lot of French dramatists battering at my door telling me how different they are.
“Furthermore, you telling me, ‘But you owe me this shot!’ tells me that you don’t think of me as a person – you think of me as a medium to fulfill your desires.”
Likewise, women in the dating pool?  They do not exist for you to empty your semen into, or onto.  They exist because they’re trying to make themselves happy, and what makes them happy may be Not You.  Furthermore, they may have tried a lot of men who are like you, and found your kind to be not the most efficient method of finding happiness.
Them screening you out is not a crime.  For it to be a crime, they would have had some natural obligation to date anyone who felt like they had a shot at them – which they don’t, any more than you are obligated to go on a tedious date with every person, male or female, who finds you desirable.  You can both say “No.”  That’s the glory of this system: you get to choose where to put your best efforts.
(Even if, as I noted, those efforts may be wrong.  People make dumbass mistakes.  Considering they’re usually the ones who bear the brunt of the punishment for it, that’s their right as well.)
And yeah.  Sometimes that means you get screened by lots of people, and go home lonelier more of the time than you’d like.  As a guy pushing his late forties, I feel that pressure: looking at OKC, there’s precious few women I find attractive who want to date someone in their fifties, and soon I’ll cross that barrier.  It’ll be lonelier.  It’ll be a little less fulfilling, being me.
I’ll have to accept that reality.  And, if I wish to keep dating, find new ways to make myself a compelling person.  Because believing that “all women owe me a shot!” often comes with a healthy dosage of “I don’t have to do anything interesting to be worthy of attention!” and oh, my friend, you’d be far better served finding ways to make yourself more desirable than you are by seething with injustice over the fact that they wouldn’t even look at you.
But life?  Is not always fair.  And the best you can do personally is to try to find ways to mitigate that unfairness.  Don’t complain that women have filtered you out; find some way to widen your personal pool of interest, so other women will find you intriguing.
Maybe by directing a French drama?  No, no, a terrible idea: direct a superhero film instead.
(Cross-posted from an essay at FetLife.)

1 Comment

  1. Yet Another Laura H
    Dec 14, 2014

    I’ve actually done the opposite, here. I haven’t signed up for FetLife, even though I want to read Mr. Steinmetz’ essays there, because I am a lesbian, and not interested in hooking up, and there are people who feel that if you are in such spaces, to not be interested in sex is a lie, an intrusion. I skipped one of my favorite webcomic artist’s local appearance, because it was in a “sex-positive” coffee shop, and in my experience, there is always that one guy who *resents* you for not being sexually available, and hovers around the spiteful hoarders of vagina, making pushy small talk as he attempts to convince you that you are just being *unfair* in not finding him attractive, that you bet if he were Tom Hiddleston (or whoever), you’d drag him into the closet for a threesome and a blow job…
    And you know what? He’s right. He’s the sex-positive person, this is the sex-positive space, I would be the alien, and it’s right to try to repel me. (I am sex positive, but not in a sex-y place for the foreseeable future.) But I’m sad to miss meeting Danielle Corestto or read more of Mr. Steinmetz’ writing.

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