Through the 21 years that I’ve seen – unless you take out the first one to two-and-a-half, as they remain a blur – I’ve always kept the male sex at arm’s distance: military arms distance. Rommel would have been proud.
There was a time when chasing boys across the school’s green field and chipped asphalt was acceptable. Then we entered middle school, and ignoring them became the new practice. High school hit, and degradation through witty insults was all the rage. In university, intellectual knockouts prove to be the best testosterone agitators. All were great techniques for achieving…um…okay, so here’s my Eastern Front. The Germans had no chance of winning against the Red Army, and I have no chance of figuring out to what 14 years of chasing, ignoring, teasing, and intellectual knockouts have all led.
To be quite honest, I blame suburban public education. Somewhere along the line, the whole philosophy of, “If they tease you it means they like you,” which our first grade teachers shoved down our throats, became perverted in my head and, I am sure, in the heads of millions of other young women. This is why women chase men who treat them like shit, why women believe they can change men, why nice guys finish last and why Rihanna has not dumped Chris Brown’s ass. Since the days of nap time, we’ve been programmed to believe that a male’s lack of attention is indicative of his insecurity with his sexuality and masculinity; he is unable to be upfront about his feelings because that hurts the development of the ideal Man he is being coerced to adopt.
But this seemingly simple explanation has left me a damaged, but refurbished good now at the age of 21. The line between being insulted and having a sincere gesture of affection made has become blurred and convoluted. My understanding of love and relationships is severely distorted. Kind sincerity becomes an offensive joke and pure douche-baggery becomes flirtatious teasing, potentially leading to marriage and two-point-five kids. Guy tells me I’m pretty, and I verbally sack him. Guy calls me a disgusting piece of leftist bulimic vomit, and I swoon. Something’s wrong here, but I find comfort in knowing that I am not alone in feeling this way.
Many women flock toward the men who treat them the worst, with the stereotypical but oh-god-so-painfully-true belief that they can change them. You know, the Obama kind of change – the kind that’s promised, but that deep down inside, you know won’t be delivered. And yet, you continue to lust after it because that is where the sad fulfillment of your efforts and your self-worth lie, and because the alternative is terrifying. Being single is engrained into our minds as a fate worse than death, since even the dead get some love from the maggots.
In my much younger years, like many other young girls, I chased, teased, and ignored with the belief that that’s what the opposite sex found attractive. Et sequitur, we expected the same strategy and result to be employed by the recipients of our cold shoulders. But as I’ve matured into the strikingly attractive and intelligent young woman I am today, I have come to realize what a load of bullshit my first grade teacher taught me. And my second grade teacher. And my third. Fourth. Ad nauseum.
Through these subtly damaging lessons, the public education system makes women into sado-masochistic beings. Our heads are filled with fallacious tales about gender relations, sex, and love. We take this knowledge and conditioning and add it to what we learn at home and through the ever-changing forms of media, and we create our own yet similarly perverted understanding of relationships and how we should conduct ourselves in situations with those to whom we are attracted.
But then again, what do I know? The most intimate relationship I’ve ever had was last semester with Mr. James Ferrier. And even that was unsatisfying.
Sana’s column will be back in two weeks. Until then, send your love to firstname.lastname@example.org.