Hey dudes. Sorry I’ve not written in like what feels like a million years (it’s been 6 weeks). I’m just trying to figure out how to keep sharing my life on the internet and not feel emotionally terrified at the same time.
Also men I go on dates with are starting to treat me like Taylor Swift. “Are you gunna write a blog about me?” They ask. "Sigh. Maybe, dude! You're in my story now!" I answer. But for real, I am legit working on finding a balance between writing about personal experiences to help others, while still valuing the privacy of other characters in my story who are working out their own journey.
Also, I’m getting older, smarter, and more boring. So my stories might be less exciting. Whatever. Here goes!
So it’s the Summer of 2017. I’m making great progress in my sex trauma therapy sessions. I was still terrified of any man coming near me, so I made a silent subconscious vow to asexuality. And let me tell you people, being asexual RULES (until you want to have sex again. But that’s a different blog).
And if you are undesirable to men who want to get married to a virgin in their early twenties, there must be something very wrong with you
For better or for worse, my sexual assault led me to staying as far away from dudes as possible. Only keeping the ones around who made my life better. Those men included my father, most of my gay friends, and my ex-boyfriend. Really beyond that I was not interested.
It was disconcerting, my hatred and fear of men, but I decided not to fight it. My therapist said I was allowed to have whatever response to being sexually assaulted, so I was letting this phase of terror/anger take its course. Taking a male hiatus didn’t turn me into a lesbian (unfortunately), but it did awaken me to just how driven I’d been for most of my life by a man’s opinion of me.
As a young girl I learned it was my job to “get a man.” That if I scored a great guy, I must be “doing it right.” This issue is exacerbated in the Christian church, where women have very little to offer outside of their virginity on a wedding night quickly following college graduation. If you weren’t getting engaged or married in your early twenties, you were obviously undesirable to men. And if you are undesirable to men who want to get married to a virgin in their early twenties, there must be something very wrong with you.
As far as I could tell, a woman of value was 3 things:
Dainty, predictable, and therefore, in a relationship.
I was literally zero of those things. And to be honest, I’ve never (rarely) been any of those things.
I don't need no man, but I would like one please and thank you
Dainty: When I wake up in the morning I slam doors unintentionally. I have to buy new shoes about every 6 months because I’m so heavy footed I walk right through the soles. When I do ballet, I sort of look like I’m trying to play field hockey on my tip-toes.
Predictable: I’m not unpredictable like a crazy person, I’m unpredictable like a creative person. I’m an actor in a City where a million things could and do shift every single hour. My money making endeavours are a hustle (the legal kind). I have to take auditions and acting jobs as they come, so my schedule is never the same more than 2 days in a row.
In a Relationship: I have been mostly single for my years on this earth, if you don’t count elementary school (Cuz back in those days I was a real playa playa). Growing up the youngest of 4 kids, I learned to be very independent because that is how I stayed out of the way. Being independent/alone isn’t an uncomfortable challenge, it’s my normal. I don’t need no man, but I would like one please and thank you.
So how do you find yourself valuable when you’ve only been provided a certain set of rules in which to define your value?
You change the fucking rules.
Taking a break from all men, literally giving the opposite of shits about whether or not they found me attractive, funny, ambitious, or at all desirable gave me the chance to actually get in touch with what I found to be attractive about me.
A year ago on National Girlfriend Day I wrote this post:
If you can't read the caption cuz you're reading this on a phone, here it is:
Happy National Girlfriend Day to my one and only. She's been with me since day 1 but I've only recently fallen madly in love with her. Every perfect curve, completed to-do list, and raunchy belch--she blows me away with her beauty. Sometimes she wakes up at 6am to kill callbacks between the gym, babysitting shifts, and not losing her mind (or wallet) in the mix. And some days she finds pepper spray on the ground, decides it could be cool to have free pepper spray, accidentally sprays herself, and has to splash milk all over her face and hands. I am totally enamored. Her love for children, tenacity, and ability to take almost nothing seriously (except the 2016 election. Don't get her started) is what makes her exceptionally Mattie Jo. She's my girl and I'm pretty freaking lucky I got stuck with her for eternity. That's one beautiful soul, amiright Jmac?
Sometimes when I get down on myself, I read this post aloud. I asked myself “Do I have a crush on me?” a lot that Summer. Because it’s true! I think I’m fucking great.
I know there’s a lot of talk out there about what self-love is and it’s the answer to all your problems. If you just have more self-love you could earn a million dollars and marry Chris Hemsworth. Or get a golden-doodle. Self-love away!
Well, I am here to tell you, that is mostly true, so definitely go for it. But also, here is some real tactical advice…
If you’re anything like me and derive your “blueprint for life” from a background obsessed with heterosexual unions and subtly making women hate themselves, you’ve got some work to do. And I suggest you start by totally ex-naying men from your front, back, or peripheral vision for a good while. This isn’t me suggesting you give up dating. No. I am suggesting you try to go a whole year giving literally zero fucks what a man thinks of you (If you can do this while dating or sleeping with them, go for it. But that sounds difficult). I’m telling you, this shit is transformative.
You’ll start to define what is sexy based on your terms. For example, my whole life I thought if I was taller like my sisters, guys would like me more. If I could stretch out my thighs to look more like Mrs. Incredible and less like Edna Mode, life would be perfect. Once I stopped caring about what some pretend guy I imagined only liking girls over 5’7 thought about my thighs, I was so much happier. And thank God, cuz I’m the one who lives inside this thing, not some dude.
You’ll start to spend your time how you like. I discovered I have zero fun at places I was “supposed to enjoy” as a young single New York lady. Like the Lower East Side on a Friday night. You know what costs as much as a night out on the Lower East Side? Three Broadway rush tickets. Three nights in an Air BNB Upstate. A Plane ticket to Paris. A St. Lucia concert on the pier...
You’ll begin communicating in a way that feels honest and powerful because it’s fun to communicate honestly and powerfully. For example, when someone is being a manipulative dick you can look them in the eye and say “You’re being a manipulative dick.” Then walk away and never hang out with them again because you’ve learned how you enjoy spending your time and it’s not around manipulative dicks. And/or your friendships with men will get really great, because you have no desire to be desired by them. So you won’t contort yourself physically, intellectually, or emotionally to be more attractive. Praise be.
The guy who isn't intimidated by a woman who writes her own story will be the guy who is overjoyed to be part of that story
Your energy will become yours to expend and save as you see fit. You can create boundaries that help you become a happier, healthier person. I’m essentially a forever freelancer, so I have to create boundaries around work hours. I’ve realized I don’t have to work every single day ever. I can give myself 2-3 days off every now and again and take myself on a trip. And on that trip I will get to do whatever I want, because I am the only person to consider!
The same Summer I was revelling in my asexual autonomy, like 5 of my girlfriends went through pretty serious breakups. Only to find out their ex-boyfriends had new girlfriends within 2 months of their 3-4 year relationships ending. By September I was part of that my-ex-got-a-new-girlfriend-way-too-quickly club. “You’ll find someone soon, MJ. I know you will.” my ex said to me. “I will not find someone ‘soon.’” I responded. “Because I don’t need to. I’m not weak like you.* I know how to be alone.”
Harsh. But true. This is probably because men have their own set of bullshit ideas about what they’re supposed to be. And maybe one of them is "reliant on women." See: Most episodes of Queer Eye.
*This is not to say we do not need other people. I don’t mean to glorify total independence like it’s somehow stronger or better than not being in a relationship. I’m talking specifically about diving into relationships because you do not know how to be alone. And how do you know if you know how to be alone if you don’t spend time alone? Following? Grool.
So, ladies, if you’re really in a space where you’re trying to change the rules about what it means to be “valuable,” I suggest you take men out of the equation for a bit. Because homegirl, the only person you need to be valuable to is YOU. And the guy who isn't intimidated by a woman who writes her own story will be the guy who is overjoyed to be part of that story. Maybe even part of your blog.