So I went to the Wilmington Public Library for the first time, yesterday. Happily, it is a mere six blocks from work, which means I can go every day if I want to, which is how I like my libraries. I poked around for the books I wanted, but they were all at different branches. After placing my special orders, I decided on The Rathbones and The Museum of Extraordinary Things to hold me over until they arrive. I left feeling pretty pleased with my choices, conversed with Jenn on my walk about my realizations from yesterday (she used the word ‘assimilate’ when I talked about being required to fit in, and that was really astute) and had a pleasant walk to the reservoir by the Sky Warren and read until it started to look stormy.
When I arrived home, there was a brief interlude of conversation with a new neighbor who mistook my friendliness as an invitation for me to make my body available to him which was, I’m not going to lie, a serious downer. I do not understand why a particular portion of the male population behaves in this way. Long story short, we shared a beer, he’s just separating from his wife, and had probably had more than the beer I saw him drink. We talked about life and our interests and his kids for a bit, and suddenly, this person was in my personal space, telling me how “amazing” I am, and trying to put his mouth on my face. To which I said firmly, “No.” Twice.
Ok, so here’s the thing: I know I’m amazing. But he didn’t. He knew I was emotionally available. He saw the surface area equivalent of my personality’s left pinky toe and decided I was not simply a person hoping to be neighborly and friendly — I was a woman who was, despite no statement to indicate such — available to him, and from whom he could derive satisfaction and physical contact in his loneliness and misery. He had the audacity to ask me into his apartment, because he really wanted to cuddle. I threw up in my mouth a little. Don’t worry. I swallowed it.
Can we all just pause and reflect on how women aren’t pacifiers? I’m not a security blanket, and it isn’t my job to make anyone feel better, let alone to do so using my body which is, you know, mine. I exited the conversation gracefully saying that all I could offer him was being a friendly neighbor, and he begged, in a rather pathetic fashion that I forget his advances. In my head I thought to myself “NOPE NOT FORGETTING THAT AT ALL, BUDDY,” and promptly went upstairs, drew a bath, and called Jenn. Like I do.
I was left with feelings that are entirely too familiar. This is my fault. I should know better. I’m not good enough. My friendship and kindness are not good enough. What I want or don’t want is secondary to the needs and desires of people who are in pain (followed by me being angry). Jenn did an excellent job of reinforcing the things that are actually true: That dude acted like a tool. Being kind or friendly is not tacit permission to be a sex object. My friendship is valuable, despite the fact that awful people underestimate its worth in the face of the more exploitative things they would like from me. We talked for a bit about this and that, and when we hung up, I went to go tell Tomthulhu what had happened. He was wonderful, and said he’d keep an eye on Mr. Inappropriate and that I am a precious treasure and that dude was a big jerkface.
We settled in, after that, and he played From Dust while I read more of The Rathbones until about midnight.
So, on a more pleasant note, I’m about halfway through the Rathbones, which makes Tom laugh. Books don’t last very long for me, most of the time. I begrudgingly finished the first book in the Game of Thrones series in a week. It took me some extra time, because I was busy hating it (yeah, you heard me). The Rathbones, on the other hand, has been amazing so far. It has a somewhat Lovecraftian feel to it, with the added benefit of a female protagonist, an Odyssey-like journey to discover the dark, possibly supernatural, truths of her ancestors, and is set within the context of the whaling industry in New England. I’m enjoying it immensely, and will probably finish it by the end of the week. I would love to finish it this evening, but I’m preparing to GM the Jade Regent, and have a lot of reading to complete before I’m ready to run our first session on Saturday.
I have a lot to say, upon reading The Rathbones, about the appropriate and inappropriate use of sexual violence in fiction. It is definitely present in the story, but it’s much more of a blend between a fairytale and a fever dream than many depictions of similar content elsewhere in contemporary fiction. It’s by no means as graphic or jarring as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (a work where I actually admire the author’s fortitude for tackling sexual violence as the horror it is, and shedding light on issue of non-reporting especially in vulnerable populations), but yet is not treated as a superficial and trite plot device the way it is in the Outlander Series which I strongly recommend against reading, ever, because it is godawful and exploitative. I’m still figuring out what’s going on in the story, since things are getting pieced together in a nonlinear fashion. We’ll see what my final conclusions are when the story is all told.