There exists a LiveJournal titled "feministki," which means what you think it does. Like much of LJ these days, it's in Russian: LJ has had a substantial presence in Russia since its inception, and for the last five years has had Russian ownership as well. My knowledge of the Russian language is effectively nil, so I obviously haven't been reading this particular site. (Google Translate works okay, sort of, but it's cumbersome unless you're using Chrome, and I have my own reasons for not using Chrome.)

There exists also an old joke, in which a man explains why he got dumped: "She said I didn't listen to her, or something." Where these two premises intersect is today's subject.

This is the pertinent thread in "feministki." "When a woman speaks," says the original poster, "men do not listen": it's all "pure background noise." A subsequent comment expanded on this in one particular realm, and Tatanya offered a translation thereof:

For the last year or two (I am now 39) I noticed that for some reason men lost interest in conversing with me. In the years before anywhere I came there were always lots of willing to discuss literature-movies-philosophy-&&&. Even though sometimes it was ending in attempts to get me into their bed, every time I was sincerely puzzled: why? We were not flirting, we were engaged in serious discussion, we communicated as fellow human beings, not as M vs F. Now, however, my reflection in the mirror is not what it used to be, the number of candidates for cultural discussion decreased; even if they engage, it's not with much zeal and not really listening and if they see you later, forget your name or even forget they already met you. And finally it dawned on me: 20 and 10 years ago they, too, did not listen, they were just spending time in a company of attractive sexual object. And when I am not an appealing sexual object anymore, there is no point in conversing, period.

Thirty-nine, I think, is awfully early to write yourself off as unappealing, especially if you were still drawing attention at 37 or 38. But the charge she makes is a serious one: that men's willingness to engage her in conversation is purely a function of their desire to get into her BVDskis, and once that desire has waned, they disappear.

Now how often is this true? Were I to rely strictly on my own experience, I would have to say "more often than not." I can offer a counterexample, but only the one: my best bud at work. We've been pretty much in that status for more than twenty years; if she ever had any further interest in me, I couldn't detect it, and I was generally always infatuated with someone else at the time. At one time she was attached; she was later detached, and eventually she found someone worthy. None of these changes affected things in the least. And when that fellow passed on, I reasoned that it would be gauche in the extreme to try to push my way into the limelight. Still, we talk, and continue to talk, two and a half hours a week, forty-someodd weeks a year, and if there's any sexual tension at all, it's not enough to induce a reading on any nearby measuring device.

But that's only the one example. (Others exist online, but that's a different sort of environment.) I am, I think, capable of keeping up my half of the conversation while checking someone out. I do, however, tend to back away from the scene once I've determined that nothing could possibly come of it, and assuming I'm not the only one with this tendency, this would explain much about the experiences of our "unappealing" 39-year-old. And, truth be told, I don't bother checking anyone out anymore: it seems like such a waste of time, and not just mine either. I'll look, and then I'll turn away, denouncing myself for still being caught up in the same game I was never any good at to begin with. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

[Source for title.]

The Vent

  24 February 2013

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