Be Ok

January 18, 2013 at 11:19 am (Uncategorized)

So I’m listening to Pandora the other day and an ad comes on telling me that I need to learn how to speak to women, and that for some sort of low cost I can take classes or get a video or something that will teach me this “important skill.” I put the words important skill in quotation marks because I think talking to people is an important skill, and I find it a little bit ridiculous that you need to find a way to talk to women. I mean, just talk to them. Talk to everybody–and realize that half of talking is listening. I think the problem with a certain subset of men is that they feel pressure to be impressive or charming, and they see a woman and create this fiction in their minds that if they were somehow different, they could be with her. The fact of the matter is, though, that you only will find happiness with someone if you be yourself. People will either like you or not, but at least that way if you find a date or a girlfriend or a fling or whatever you’ll know that the attraction is authentic. I myself have no desire to put forth the effort to create a separate persona to attract other people–I am trying to be authentically me, and that’s more than enough work.

Maybe I’m getting away from the original point (and maybe I just feel a little insulted being typecast as someone who cannot talk to women just because I happen to be listening to my indie singer-songwriter radio). Some people have difficulty finding the self confidence to put themselves out there, it is true. I don’t know if I have any magic advice other than to put yourself out there if you like someone. The worst that can happen is that you get rejected, and then you’re not any worse off than you were before. I would also advise just having friends of both genders–it’s easy to talk to your friends, and for those who are a little phobic of talking to the other gender being used to doing it in a consequence-free environment might be helpful. I am admittedly a people person, but I love my male friends and female friends because they allow me to be fully me. This is a bit of a stereotype, but IN GENERAL my female friends are easier to talk with about emotions, things that are troubling me, musical theatre, etc. With my guy friends it’s easier to bro out, watch sports, and occasionally let myself be a 22 year old male and do stupid things (within reason, mostly).

I can (and do) sometimes bro out with my female friends and talk about feelings with my guy friends. The rhythms of our interactions for the most part tend to fall into what is already culturally prescribed, however. I don’t think that is a bad thing–I think that’s just how it is. I don’t have an expectation that everyone needs to be like that, but I have a firm belief that being open to differences means also not being afraid to know that you fall into cultural patterns at times. It’s a matter of the examined life. Just be aware of what you’re doing, and try to do as little harm as possible.

Being a straight white male confers plenty of societal advantages, but it also blinds you in a lot of ways when you try to see those advantages–because they don’t always show up in your day to day life. That’s why you have to make sure that you think things through when you say something you believe to be a harmless joke, or when you are thinking about societal protections for minorities. It’s easy to be critical of affirmative action when you’re working hard and trying to pull your weight, but as a white male you by definition cannot understand what it’s like to be discriminated against. You’re also trying to climb the stairs, but there is no weight tied to you as you go up them. If you’ve never had the weight, you can only conceptualize it–you can’t ever truly know. I don’t say this to excuse the stupid things white men say (nor to say that white men have a monopoly on stupid) but to instead say that we should all adopt a Rawlsian veil of ignorance when we think about these things.

 

“Many of our most serious conflicts are conflicts within ourselves. Those who suppose their judgements are always consistent are unreflective or dogmatic.”
―John Rawls

 

“The perspective of eternity is not a perspective from a certain place beyond the world, nor the point of view of a transcendent being; rather it is a certain form of thought and feeling that rational persons can adopt within the world. And having done so, they can, whatever their generation, bring together into one scheme all individual perspectives and arrive together at regulative principles that can be affirmed by everyone as he lives by them, each from his own standpoint. Purity of heart, if one could attain it, would be to see clearly and to act with grace and self-command from this point of view.”
―John Rawls

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