“I’m not here for
You don’t really want to mess with me tonight.
Just stop, and
take a second.
I was fine before you walked into my life.”
Can we talk for a second about entitlement?
I know, thousands of think pieces have been written about entitlement of all kinds: racial, economic, sexual and of course, gender-based. But in the past week, it’s been top-of-mind for me, for a number of reasons.
Just last night, I found myself being simultaneously scolded and (virtually) patted on the head by a Facebook “friend”—a straight, White man who apparently disagreed with my rather innocuous, but honest (and popular) opinion on how something I’d encountered on social media affected me as a Black woman (and feminist/womanist). Seriously. This man actually took time out of his day to attempt to invalidate my opinion, condescend to and silence me—on my own FB timeline (of all places).
If that’s not a colonialist mentality, I don’t know what the hell is. Needless to say, we’re not “friends” anymore.
It happens more often than I’d like, or even readily acknowledge. And of course, not all of it comes from straight, White men (or even men, or White people exclusively). But it has me thinking about the myriad of aggressions and micro-aggressions I encounter on a daily basis, and often choose not to acknowledge.
Like last week, when (ironically) en route to a date and texting on my phone, a man reached out to grab my arm, just to ask me to smile.
He clearly wasn’t too attached to that hand. Suffice to say, the gesture did not have effect he intended, because… Caveman, much?
A little further up the street, another young man told me I was beautiful. Not wanting to be impolite, I thanked him. Apparently, that was an invitation for he and his friends to laughingly remark on what else they liked about my appearance—in quite specific detail, and well before I was out of earshot. Because of course, I should feel flattered by their appraisal, shouldn’t I?
How does this relate to dating, you ask? Well, I’m finding the level of entitlement among dudes online fairly outrageous, to say the least.
Now, believe it or not, I actually appreciate the guys on Tinder who proclaim outright that if you’re not “DTF”, they’re not interested (if you don’t know that charming acronym, Google it). I mean…I certainly appreciate the honesty, even if I do wonder when we moved entirely into a “no-woo-necessary” universe. (My guess is, when women started playing along.)
But there’s another type who is more…insidious in his entitlement. He’s the guy who has enough sense to realize that—forgive the pun—a little lubrication might be necessary to grease the wheels, and get him where he ultimately wants to go. So, he’s just charming enough to garner consideration, and considerate enough to hopefully gain entry.
But as we know, entitlement is a helluva drug. Eventually, an addict will start to itch.
Such was the case with a fellow I’ll call “The Jester” (fitting, since he was wearing a clown nose in one of his profile pics). The Jester and I were actually matched early on in my Tinder experiment, and discussed meeting. Unfortunately, I ended up traveling, and we both neglected to follow up, eventually un-matching each other.
So, I was pleasantly surprised when we matched again a week or two ago, and began communicating again. As before, he cut straight to the chase, asking if I wanted to meet up. I agreed, and we tentatively threw out a few days that might work.
But when he buzzed in on me on the first of those tentative dates, asking if I could meet in Manhattan within a few hours’ time, I was a bit overbooked, since I had both a last-minute meeting and a rehearsal that day—in Brooklyn. I admitted as much, and asked if another day in the week might be an option. Unfazed, he ignored my question and pressed on. Again, I asked if we could possibly meet a few days later.
His response? He spontaneously un-matched me. Like, dial tone, y’all.
Clearly I’d missed the memo: apparently, I was supposed to feel so grateful that he wanted to meet that I’d rearrange my entire schedule—hell, maybe even the following day’s gig—to accommodate him.
Or maybe his hard-on is on a very specific schedule (not that I’d be of assistance, there).
Who knows—and in the grand scheme of things, who cares—but it did raise a few questions. Like, is The Jester simply an a**hole, or is this just an obnoxious side effect of a Tinderized mentality? (This is otherwise known as “cognitive overload”—more on that later) Was his behavior in any part because studies suggest that I belong to the least desirable—yet frequently fetishized—demographic in online dating (more on that travesty here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/literally-darling/the-perils-of-dating-on-okcupid-while-black_b_5698351.html)? Would that effectively make this a “Black girls are easy—or should be” moment?
Yeah, I know—I may be reaching with the race thing, but there was—in that moment with a virtual stranger—a vulnerability that made me acutely aware of my status as a woman, a Black woman, a Black woman of a certain age…and every disheartening cliché that accompanies that identity.
None, all or some of the above may be true, and I truly have no idea which, and likely never will. The bottom line is, I’m not responsible for The Jester’s choices or behavior. But it was a cautionary tale, as I continue to move through the online world. Because even at a casual level, with options constantly at the ready, I don’t ever want to make another human being feel as insignificant and disposable as I felt in that split second…
Before I burst out laughing at the sheer absurdity of the whole thing.