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Behind a cut for emotional abuse, misogyny, and discussion of these things as specifically related to recent gun violence and the possibility thereof, which is not what the Letter Writer asked, but definitely something I saw in the question.

I did a giant dump of cat photos for patrons if you need to click on over that way. ❤

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Hello Captain!

Something has been bothering me for a long time – I have been accused of “leading guys on.” When this happened in college and grad school, I shrugged it off because the guys who would accuse me of this were always ones that took any female attention as romantic interest in them or they had a crush on me, but I had told them, usually several times, that I was not interested in them romantically, only as friends.

I am a friendly, smiley person who is easy to talk to/confide in (which is good since I am a healthcare provider now), so I am guessing that helps lend to their idea that I am romantically interested in them. But if they paid attention, they would see that I am like that with everyone! However, I do make a point of not flirting at all, not touching them in any way, and only meeting with them in groups to avoid any accidental messages going through to guys that I suspect have interest in me. 

But I feel like it keeps happening! And it is really starting to make me angry because I am trying to make professional connections (and hopefully friends!) and I am so tired of guys coming onto me out of nowhere or when it is clearly inappropriate.

For example, I went to a business lunch with two professionals. The second person never showed up, so we had some drinks and chatted. We talked about our relationships a bit (me = my boyfriend is awesome, him = having a child completely changed his life and marriage). We went back to his office to talk more (business, I thought), when he said, “if I was younger, I would have thought that you coming back to my office meant you wanted to sleep with me.” I was shocked. I wrapped up the conversation and ran.

Something similar happened with another healthcare provider. We were exchanging treatments, and because he was so easy to talk to, I ended up confiding much more in him than I usually would with someone. He ended up confiding his marriage problems to me and a few sessions later, he stated that he “could not be alone with me” because he was “afraid something he would regret would happen.” I assured him that I would never cheat on my boyfriend, so he had nothing to worry about from me, but I respected his wish to stop our exchanges. I was upset about this for a few weeks because I thought I had finally found a new friend to talk about our practices and daydreamed about double dates with him and his wife.

There is a third guy with the same basic thing of us hanging out, him coming onto me when I thought we were just friends, me having to leave ASAP, and then never talking to him again AND actively avoiding seeing him (which means I have to skip professional events I would like to attend but not enough to risk seeing him).

Both times, these guys were married AND we had talked about my wonderful boyfriend. I know they are unhappy with their marriages, but I am clearly happy with my relationship, and even if I wasn’t, I would never cheat and I really resent the implied accusation that I would do so. With the unmarried third guy, the same still stands because he knew about my boyfriend.

My boyfriend only knows about what happened with the third guy because I was so distraught over it (it was actually the first event). He said that I am too nice and naive. I know I can be pretty oblivious when reading signals that are related to me (it’s so much easier to observe what’s happening with other people!), but I am actively doing everything I can think of to avoid sending misleading signals and avoiding “compromising” situations.

What am I doing wrong? I can’t possibly be leading every guy on, can I?

Thank you for reading (and thank you for all of your previous posts!),
Not Leading Them On (On Purpose Anyway)

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People are always telling me I could be attractive if I wanted to, and I acknowledge the truth of this – thing is, I don’t want to. I don’t care about my appearance beyond being clean and presentable. I’m not interested in putting more effort in just to please other people, and I’m perfectly comfortable looking like the slightly androgynous weirdo I am.

But it seems like I’m the only person comfortable with it. Friends and family friends and stepfamily I have to tolerate are constantly threatening me with makeovers and wheedling me to wear makeup or dress more feminine or switch to contact lenses. It makes me dread being around them. I tried doing the “pretty girl” thing once, felt like a fake the entire time, and got weirded out by the extra attention. I don’t WANT random dudes hitting on me – NO, EVEN IF THEY ARE BUYING ME THINGS. MAYBE ESPECIALLY IF THEY ARE BUYING ME THINGS – but these, er, “friends” never accept this, and seem to take my stance as a personal attack. It gets extremely tiresome. Can we please just play Apples to Apples and not debate about my wardrobe? Just once?

So, some of these people I could feasibly break contact with. Am I justified in doing so (or is there some magic explanation that will get them off my case)? And as for the ones I still have to deal with for the foreseeable future, is there any way I can get them to drop the subject without giving them room to launch into their usual bullshit tirades about how society would implode without rigid gender roles and women looking nice for their man?

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Like Swimming After Eating A Burrito: Dating Advice From The Wrong Side from In Our Words. There’s a lot of great, insightful stuff in here, but this is my favorite part of the piece:

“Are they a jerk to other people? They’re probably also a jerk to you.

I used to be one of those people who got off on having a boyfriend/girlfriend/ziefriend who was too cool to be nice to other people, like my friends, family members or pet. He had a leather jacket, perfectly tussled hair and was in a band. Who cared if they showed up to my family’s Friday night dinner or knocked on the door before he walked in. They were like Jess from Gilmore Girls or Sam from Clarissa Explains It All. They were too cool to bother with knocking or polite things like that. Did Sid Vicious knock? No, because knocking affirms capitalistic patriarchy. When you knock, the man can hear you.

But it turns out those little things like knowing your mother’s first name or not being an asshole to every single person you too interact with is helpful, because you don’t want everyone you know to vehemently disapprove of your relationship. It feels like you’re dating Charlie Sheen or the Unabomber. And most likely, if they’re not that nice to everyone else around you, they’re not that nice to you. It’s not that you’re special or different from everyone else. It’s that they hate the world, and that someday will include you.”

We often point out here that men’s emotions get treated as logic and truth, but women’s emotions get treated as proof that they are stupid and wrong. Please enjoy this piece by Jen Dziura at The Gloss, When Men Are Too Emotional To Have A Rational Argument, which separates this very bad and sexist cultural trope from the herd and wrestles it down like the weak gazelle of bullshit that it is. It’s very US-politics-media centered, but it’s using the recent election cycle as a case study in this:

“What I want to talk about is how emotional outbursts typically more associated with men (shouting, expressing anger openly) are given a pass in public discourse in a way that emotional outbursts typically more associated with women (crying, “getting upset”) are stigmatized.

I wish to dispel the notion that women are “more emotional.” I don’t think we are. I think that the emotions women stereotypically express are what men call “emotions,” and the emotions that men typically express are somehow considered by men to be something else.

This is incorrect. Anger? EMOTION. Hate? EMOTION. Resorting to violence? EMOTIONAL OUTBURST. An irrational need to be correct when all the evidence is against you? Pretty sure that’s an emotion. Resorting to shouting really loudly when you don’t like the other person’s point of view? That’s called “being too emotional to engage in a rational discussion.”

Not only do I think men are at least as emotional as women, I think that these stereotypically male emotions are more damaging to rational dialogue than are stereotypically female emotions. A hurt, crying person can still listen, think, and speak. A shouting, angry person? That person is crapping all over meaningful discourse.

Read more: http://thegloss.com/career/bullish-life-men-are-too-emotional-to-have-a-rational-argument-994/#ixzz2CVC4yByZ

Happy weekend, world! I’ve got friends in town and am making the most of time with awesome people and Chicago food tourism. Hope you are all doing awesome stuff.

Dear Captain Awkward,

Due to a current organizing position I hold I have been asked to deliver brief presentations to each of the Greek chapters on my campus discussing the importance of women’s reproductive health issues in the upcoming election and subsequently registering people to vote while perhaps even sneaking in tidbits about safe sex and healthy relationships. I have no reservations talking to the sororities because I figure they have more reason to be receptive to the message. I am, however, quite nervous to present to the fraternities. Standing alone in front of a room of fraternity guys is scary in and of itself. Trying to convince them to care about women’s reproductive health issues seems tricky, as does talking about consent to a group that is particularly sensitive/defensive about consent issues. How can I give my presentation in a compelling and convincing manner?

Some things I have thought of:

1.  The men and women’s sexual health on campus depend on one another. The men’s health is compromised if the women don’t have access to STD screenings/contraceptives etc and vice versa. And these dudes definitely aren’t looking to become dads anytime soon so like, SUPPORT BIRTH CONTROL HEY!

2.     The “these are your girlfriends, your friends, sisters & mothers” ploy. But that comes off to me as “PROTECT YOUR WOMEN” and that is a weird message that I don’t want to deliver.

3.     It’s just the right thing to do…

Any script ideas or talking points you can think of?

Sincerely,

Fraternizing with the Male Vote

Dear Fraternizing:

What a cool project. I understand why it feels daunting. But it is cool and important.

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Knope 2012 Campaign Poster (Parks & Rec)Dear Captain Awkward,

My boyfriend and I met in college, and are following similar career paths. We’re a little different in the exact path, but it’s the same industry.

Last month a family member visiting my family said that he was best friends with a head honcho in the industry. He said that my boyfriend and I should send him our resumes so that he could pass them on to his friend. I was all over it, even though I knew nothing would come from it. My boyfriend was a little hesitant because of the low odds, but he put something together and sent it in.

Flash forward to yesterday and BAM we hear something back! Or rather, I hear something back. Nothing about a job, but head honcho wants to set up a call with me to speak about possibilities. His assistant sets up a call for today. We have the call, and it’s all sorts of amazing. There’s no job (yet) but he says I can call or email him any time and to definitely let him know when I’m in town so that he can set up meetings with different companies. Not necessarily job interviews, but people who can shoot me in the right direction. Awesome right?? A HUGE door opener!

Here’s my question…what about my boyfriend? He is going to be traveling to that town with me (we made plans a while ago) and I know that he’d love to have meetings. But I already feel like I’m receiving a huge favor, and I’d feel weird dragging him along or asking for meetings to be set up for him, too. I think that would be pretty imposing. All sorts of awkwardness in my brain right now. I know that I should tell him that look, this is now my contact. You had a chance to send in your resume when I did (he sent his in a few hours past the “deadline” – when my family member left). I know he’d understand but…wow I want him to have opportunities, too!

Anyway I think I have this question answered for myself, but I have no way to approach it. Should I just own the fact that this is now my situation? Or should I bring it up with bf and talk to him about it? This is nothing we would ever break up over, but I love him and want him to have awesome opportunities, too. And I really want to spare hurt feelings.

Thanks,
Opportunities For All!

Dear Opportunities:

I have very strong opinions about this, are you ready?

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Lindy West reacts to a new book by the authors of The Rules with the correct amount of “What the everloving fuck?” (h/t Bitches Gotta Eat)

So, essentially (according to these jokers), online dating is a forum where you put yourself up for auction and then passively watch while men compete for your silent company by bidding varying amounts of pork tenderloins and tennis bracelets. Whatever you do, don’t express an interest in or attraction to anything. The worst thing you can do for your romantic life is to play an active role in your romantic life. Also, Fein and Schneider say, once a man does contact you, under no circumstances should you let him know that you’ve looked at anything on his profile. Keep yourself vague. Because there’s nothing hotter than a woman-shaped blob of nothingness.

Or you could ignore all this speculative, baroque, antifeminist bullshit and just be a fucking human being.”

Yo, should I dump this asshole? should cut into my traffic & inbox significantly. I agree with the author that people who self-describe as “feisty” are to be avoided. See also: Quirky, zany, and madcap. Always avoid the madcap. Though, on that topic, I liked this piece at The Gloss taking down the overuse of the word “crazy”:

You know, it’s funny, generally when men refer to their exes as ‘crazy’ what I keep hearing is ‘she had emotions, and I did not like that…’

And when men do this on a regular basis, remember that, if you are a women, you are not the exception. You are not so cool and fabulous and levelheaded that they will totally get where you are coming from when you show emotions other than “pleasant agreement.”

When men say “most women are crazy, but not you, you’re so cool” the subtext is not, “I love you, be the mother to my children.” The subtext is “do not step out of line, here.” If you get close enough to the men who say things like this, eventually, you will do something that they do not find pleasant. They will decide you are crazy, because this is something they have already decided about women in general.”

A good friend and collaborator once told me I was the first and only non-crazy female director he’d ever worked with. He meant it absolutely as a compliment, I am sure. It’s not a compliment, and it took me a little while to figure out why it sat so badly with me. So then I gave him a piece of my mind about it that started with “Actually, I have a mental illness, so I AM technically ‘crazy,’ and if we’re going to work together again I need you to think real hard about whether you have a different standard for what’s crazy when a woman does it vs. a man.” People paid Stanley “I need the clouds to be just right” Kubrick, Werner “Yeah, we’ll need to carry that over the mountains” Herzog, Terrence “I can only shoot at the Magic Hour” Malick to direct movies. Meek, ever-agreeable and self-effacing is not actually a good quality in a director. Or a girlfriend.

Work/Career Advice:  Bitch Magazine’s post on 10 Things That Would Have Been Good To Know At and After Graduation is pretty spot-on. Congratulations, class of 2012, especially my beloved students and former students. This speech from Neil Gaiman about making a career as an artist is what I wish I could tell all of you. This advice about How To Get and Keep A Mentor is pretty useful as well.

Got any recent great reads you want to link in the comments? (Shameless self-promotion is allowed).

Oh, before I forget, yesterday I spotted honest-to-god FEELINGSART/FEELINGSMAIL outside my CTA stop:

"Billy Jean, I love you. Call me. Love Louis" written in chalk on a sidewalk.

Way to use your words, Louis!