Breda had a post today that put me in mind of certain recent events.
There are a couple of females I see every day. Both younger than me. Both seem to dislike me heartily. They're not overtly rude, but they tend not to look at me when I speak to them, and give rather arch replies, with the attitude of "you're a crazy freak, but I'll condescend to speak to you this once." In short, they treat me like I treat fanboys who invade my personal space. I don't know what this stems from, but I recognize it; I don't force myself into their space, but I find it bemusing. Unlike the fanboys who approach me, these young women can't possibly expect me to hit on them, so the only other thing I can deduce is that I make them uncomfortable for some reason.
Like Breda says in her essay, I've never found it easy to get along with women. I often find out, after I've become friends with a woman, that she was initially intimidated by me. So I've made attempts over the years, to be more positive and pleasant, to sweeten my tone of voice, and smile. I'm not sure it helps--I probably come across as a poorly adjusted schizo. I'm still too abrupt, too inclined to sarcasm, and too interested in strange subjects.
Women connect with each other through conversation and sharing--if you're not willing to listen to a woman go on at length about personal minutiae, she'll think you don't like her. And I'm hard-pressed to hold an indepth conversation with anyone these days, since I have no pop-culture references to fall back on and the other things I like are fairly esoteric: weapons and kung-fu and motorcycles; cooking and sewing and writing.
Of course I could be reading too much into this. There are plenty of women who are hostile toward other good-looking women just on principle. And these two chicks I'm thinking of have strong flirtatious tendencies toward their male supervisors that make me think they are of the type to be threatened. It doesn't hurt my feelings--I'm too self-absorbed to be offended by anything but a deliberate attack--but it's rather fatiguing to deal with day after day.
Nevertheless, there are plenty of my-kind-of-women out there. The Sparring Partner and I took a motorcycle rider-training class last weekend--remarkably, there were four women, two guys in the class. Two of the women were older, one of them was a bit younger than me. She was a cop, and quite out-going. During our breaks we stood around and talked about the best methods of concealed carry for women. Cop chick also got the only perfect score in the class on her riding test. High-fives all around.
I did all right, myself. The balance part was easy for me (I probably was the best at slow-riding through a narrow path) but I'd never driven a manual transmission and it took me a while to get the braking/throttle/clutch combination down. I killed the engine a lot. I tipped the bike a couple of times, although it was always while stopping so I had it under control--I just didn't have the muscle to hold the damn thing up. Plus it was a fast-paced, physically demanding class; almost seven hours riding the first day, using muscles I'd never used before. My whole body ached afterward. Also, it rained for the first 4 hours we were out there, and my rain gear was not as waterproof as the salesman had assured me it was.
Still, I did okay. Better than okay--I got 99 out of 100 on my test. And the SP's praise was worth all the discomfort. "You're so cool," he kept saying. "Even when I could tell you were tired or frustrated, you didn't quit and you didn't throw a fit or pout or anything. I don't know any other woman who would keep at it the way you did."
I'd like to tell him he's been associating with the wrong type of woman, but I'm fairly sure he's right. There aren't many of us.
On the flip side, there's a guy I work with, one of the motorcycle editors, who I've become friendly with. He's heavily tattooed, gentle, intelligent, well-spoken, into heavy metal and bodybuilding, creative and capable with his hands. He's a published writer and well-versed in obscure cinema, especially horror and martial arts flicks. He used to re-upholster cars and does his own cooking and ironing. I talk to him about weapons, kung fu, motorcycles, cooking, sewing, and writing--and he generally has worthwhile things to contribute.
He listened patiently the other day while I gushed about my new motorcycle jacket, even though he's probably seen them all before. He hefted the weight of it, examined the pockets where the body armour goes, complimented me on getting a good deal, congratulated me on completing the class.
"He's like your grandma, or favorite aunt or something," I told my husband, who has met the guy, and trades emails with him about motorcycles. "Even when I know I'm going on about things he's already heard a million times, he just smiles and says all the right things to make you feel validated. He's like a really supportive girlfriend."
"Like a big cuddly tattooed chick," the SP agreed.
We're not too gender-concerned around our house.