Friday is a special day for me–let’s call it Fucking Friday.
I couldn’t sleep last night (surprise) so I trolled the internet because that’s one of the things I do best. At the 5am golden hour, I received a text message from the guy I was supposed to be going on a date with tonight. He informed me that he had some bad allergic reaction and could not make the date. My gut reaction was to attempt a joke at my being allergic to bullshit, but I held my tongue.
He and I spent the better part of this week furiously messaging each other with “let’s get to know each other” questions, comments and jokes. We got along famously. I actually found myself excited, particularly after I re-read the article Fuck Yes or No by Mark Manson. Was my would-be date a fuck yes? Not exactly. But my willingness and desire to get to know him fell under that category for sure.
So he backs out of the date. Red flag. After this occurs, we begin to talk in depth about random things, one of them being former dating partners. This may seem too soon to some, but keep in mind he and I had talked non-stop for a week. He told his parents about me. He “showed off” my picture to co-workers and friends. We exchanged vulnerabilities in order to move the process along–at least, I did. Something clicked, though, 10 minutes into this early-morning chat. I all of a sudden began to get really honest about my past. About recovery. About where I’ve been and how I was. About my proclivity for fucking. This did not go over well. In fact, my honesty caused him to take a “pause.” He explains–over text–that I should feel “sympathy” for him to “process” this information. My exact words he processed: “The number of men I’ve had sex with would make you gasp, but I still don’t know shit about men. I said it because I have a considerably dark past and I am not ashamed of that. I did things drunk that I would never in my right mind do sober. <<silence>> I would understand if this gives you pause.” His response: “It does. I won’t pretend I’m not upset by this verbiage. I’m processing. I am more upset that you won’t let me process this.” The exchange continues with more awkward silences and gaps in conversation. He then asks if he can call me. When he does, he says that he is “Still willing to work on things–‘on us'”–that he’s “Conservative, you know. Catholic. I was raised with a certain set of principles…” I didn’t have the heart to tell him I’ve bedded plenty of Catholics who would readily disagree.
To that end, it got uglier. I did not say anything mean, but I picked up what he was putting down. He did not like my sordid past. This made me furious. Then I paused (ok, I cried a little) because I felt shame. I felt ashamed that this person who thought I was “amazing” and “perfect” and “gorgeous” for my tattoos and foul mouth–this person who put me on a pedestal–did not hesitate to knock me down.
My fall from Madonna grace to low-level Whore was a quick one. It appears this man had no issue with my hotness-via-intelligence: “Good. you’re a writer, that means you’re smart.” He fell especially hard for the tattoos: “When [anonymous friend] told me you had tattoos, I said, ‘go on…'” He loved that I was in recovery, that I could be so honest. It seems he had no problem fetishizing my bad-girl-goes-good rap–that is, until it got too real.
I’m upset by this because I feel like I got trapped in a classic Fuck-22. I’m an interesting person with a past, which is what makes me that much cooler now. At the same time, I have been on the wrong side of the tracks, after all. I should be ashamed of myself. Who do I think I am? And then it hit me–this kind of shame is the biggest reason I drank.
The subtext of his responses was clear: I am a red flag. I am in recovery, so I should be recovered, right? How dare I have so many partners. I couldn’t possibly be relationship material.
The anger I feel is not directed toward him. I am the slut-shamer here, internalizing this misogynistic bullshit. Why am I apologizing–albeit, indirectly–for my former predilections for casual sex? What do I have to be ashamed of? Even if I hadn’t been in a blackout for most of those encounters, would I still have a reason to regret any of it? Didn’t I kind of like it some of the time? Yes. Yes I did. Sure, there are some amends that will rightfully be made to those I have hurt, even in recovery. Sexual liberation does not mean I get a pass to harm anyone. Sex comes with responsibility.
This is a sensitive topic. I get that. But I don’t care. The media coverage for women musicians compared to men, for example, shows the parity in biased coverage.
Women fall from grace; men are the martyrs.
It’s sexist and unrealistic. People are entitled to their opinions. I respect that. I also respect people like Lady Gaga who aren’t afraid to challenge conventional wisdom. She doesn’t identify as a feminist, so to speak, but she is honest about sex and her own sexuality. She lets her music speak for itself. She says, “I’m not scared. I’ve got three number one records and I’ve sold almost four million records worldwide. You see, if I was a guy and I was sitting here with a cigarette in my hand grabbing my crotch and talking about how I make music because I like fast cars and fucking girls, you’d call me a rock star. But when I do it in my music and in my videos–because I’m a female, because I make pop music–you’re judgmental and you say that it is distracting. I’m just a rock star.”
There you have it, ladies and gentlemen. No apologies, no subtext:
I’m just a rock star.