01 April 2022

Emotional malnutrition

Transcribing this Tumblr post from skaldish for legibility and reference.

Still bothered by the US cultural idea that men can only be non-romantically intimate with one another in war-like or competitive circumstances.

I’m pretty quiet about the fact I’m a transman usually, but holy shit I need to tell you about the culture shock I’m going through because it’s blindsiding me.

There’s a huge sense of social isolation that comes with being perceived as male, because now people are subconsciously treating me as a potential predator. All strangers, no matter their gender, keep their guard up around me.

It made me realize that there is no inherent camaraderie in male socialization as there is in female socialization—unless, of course, it’s in very specific environments. And the fact I don’t amnbiently experience this mutual kinship in basic exchanges anymore is an insanely lonely feeling.

You know how badly this would have fucked my mind up if I had grown up with this?

It is 4:30am and I’m mourning the loss of a privilege I didn’t even know I had.

Anyway, I’m going to figure out how to navigate this. Don’t know how yet, but I’m gonna.

If you figure it out, can you share your insights? This is a fundamental as to why im in the closet

Absolutely, because it’s an extremely sticky issue.

Frankly, this is something I would’ve never understood without living the experience.

It’s now blatantly clear to me that most cis men probably experience chronic emotional malnutrition. They’re deprived of social connection just enough for it to seriously fuck with their psyches, but not enough for them to realize that it’s happening and what’s causing it.

It’s like they’re starving, but don’t know this because they’ve always been served 3 meals…except those meals have never been big enough.

This deprivation comes from all sides of aisle, by the way.

In the case of women: When I’m out in public and interact with women, all of them come off as incredibly aloof, cold, and mirthless. I have never experienced this before even though I know exactly what this composure is—the armor that keeps away creepy-ass men.

As someone who used to wear it myself, I know this armor is 100% impersonal. Nobody likes wearing it, and I can say with absolute certainty that women would dump the armor in favor of unconditional companionship with men if doing this didn’t run the risk of actual assault. (Trust me when I say women aren’t just being needlessly guarded.)

But I only have a complete understanding of this context because I’ve experienced female socialization. If I hadn’t, I would’ve thought this coldness was a conspiracy against me devised by roughly half of the human population. Even now, with all that I know about navigating the world as a woman, I’m failing to convince my monkey-brain that this armor isn’t social rejection.

And as for male socialization? Again, it seems taboo for a man to be platonically intimate with men for reasons I have yet to fully understand, but I think it boils down to a) the fact society teaches boys that it’s not okay to be soft with each other, and b) garden-variety homophobia. Our media only shows men being intimate with one another when they’re teamed up against a dire situation, and I’d bet real money it’s a huge reason why men gravitate toward activities that simulate being teamed up against an opposing force.

But men are not machines of war. Yes, testosterone absolutely gives you Dumb Bastard Brain, but that just makes you want to skateboard a wagon down a hill or duct-tape your friend to the wall, not kill someone.

The human species looks so much colder standing from this side.

I can see how men might convince themselves that their feelings of emotional desperation is personal weakness as opposed to a symptom they’re all experiencing from White Imperialism. Because this human connection, this frith, is as essential for our wellbeing as water is.

So sick. How sick. I want to destroy this garbage.


“White imperialism.”

As someone who grew up amab, I can garuntee you “white imperialism” ain’t got shit to do with it. “The Whities” did not create this phenomenon.

Also, statistically speaking, it is INSANELY rare for a woman to assaulted by a stranger. Even less likely than it is for a man to be. Significantly less likely in fact since men make up most of violent crime victims. With that context, it’s pretty damn clear most of that Totally Necessary “Armor” is unnecessary and in fact mostly useless since the main people who assault (especially in a sexual manner) are people you know, often intimately. And I seriously doubt you’re wearing this “armor” around people you trust. And since you also don’t seem to wear this “armor” around women, you’re also only “protecting against” half the threat. Which isn’t very smart.

If you wanted to destroy that “garbage” you wouldn’t act like women need to keep doing it, and wouldn’t place the blame on “white imperialism” as that’s absolving a lot of society of blame and just, as usual, placing the blame on an acceptable target.

I’ll reply this in genuine good faith because it’s worth it, and I definitely either need to lend context to what I mean by “White Imperialism” or else find a different word for better clarity.

So, when I say we should blame “White Imperialism,” I don’t mean we should blame “light-skinned caucasian people.” I mean we should blame “the strict social norms perpetuated by Christianity, heteronormativity, and colonization, which started with the Roman Empire and wound their way into culture of people we typically refer to as ‘white people’ over the course of centuries.”

To be honest, I’ve actually been trying to eliminate as many buzz words as I can when I describe this, because buzz words have different connotations to different people, which literally helps no one understand each other better.

But at the same time, I need a word that succinctly describes The Thing That Forces Us All To Conform Or Else We Will Become Second-Class Humans, and I chose the term “White Imperialism” as a nod to its Roman origins and to distinguish it from other forms of imperialism that occur globally. But if people have other suggestions for different words, I’m happy to hear them.

And as for the armor? I genuinely wish the armor was unnecessary. I really, really do. But it is tragically necessary, and it make more sense why it’s there when I tell you that this armor actually isn’t only to guard against rape. Most of the time, this armor guards against the little, unwelcome advances men make towards women, which happen to women whenever they leave their homes. Daily things. Examples include:

  • Guys trying to talk to you at the gym
  • Dudes yelling “nice ass!” or “hey sexy!” from their cars and other catcalls
  • Men watching you from a distance with rapt and unbroken attention
  • Men following you while you’re meandering around the mall
  • Cars rounding the block multiple times, slowing down each time they pass you, as you go for a walk
  • Men casually brushing your ass while you’re out at the bar
  • Men bearing down harder on their advances after you’ve tried to disengage multiple times

Every woman I know has had these kinds of experiences. They’ve had them regardless of where they went, what they wore, or what time of day it was. The only think that makes them have these things less? Is the armor, and it’s far from perfect.

Here’s another vital part to understanding all of this: These experiences start happening to you at an alarmingly young age, so you learn from the time of girlhood to feel threatened by strange men you don’t know. It only gets reinforced as time goes on.

These days, people don’t look twice at me when I walk down the block, and it’s a completely novel experience. I could be a fucking park bench for all they care. But back when I ID’d as a women, the gaze of men would follow me everywhere, like I was some kind of golden object on display for their visual consumption. It’s not subtle and it’s REALLY not flattering.

(I have yet to get the cis male perspective on why these things are dished out towards women, and what the actual intention is behind these actions. Truly, I’d genuinely would like to hear them, because I think it would help me bridge things more.)