Marked (Part II)

A bruise. Oh, great. Just what I need. To be single and have a bruise. A bruise that isn’t easily explainable. A bruise that obviously isn’t from bumping into a chair. This thing definitely looks like a bite mark. Fuck.

I kinda wanna call this guy and tell him that bruise are for mains only! But I’m not sure what the implication there would be. Is the implication: you are not my main, don’t do it. Or is the implication: now you gotta be my main. That’s too much. I don’t want to think about that. I just want to not have this bruise so I don’t have to think about what kind of lie I might have to tell if one of my other dates asks my why I have a bite shaped bruise on my leg.

Or maybe I don’t want to think about it because I secretly like it. How bold. How kinky. What nice little reminder of a fun little time. I do like being covered in bruises, head to toe. Leave your mark on me. Let the world know who I belong to.

Although, no, isn’t that what I want to get away from? Isn’t that what’s been pissing me off all week? Getting yelled at in the street like I’m somebody else’s discarded property. My date getting accosted for being seen in public with me. The last vestiges of a wild kink from a failed relationship: getting off on being someone’s property. Like an immutable object that was meant to be possessed. I don’t know if I’m mad that various denizens of Downtown Oakland still look at me like I belong to someone I’m no longer dating. Or if I find it to be endearing. He certainly did put a lot of time and energy into making that kink feel real as possible if I’m still experiencing it two months after the fact. How thoughtful of him.

So, as with all things, I am large and I contain multitudes. I guess there’s no avoiding having a sexuality tinged with disgust and violence. Might as well embrace it for the concrete floor covered in shattered glass that it is.

Ferreting Out Subtle Misogyny On Basic Ass Dating Apps

Hinge is cool because it seems to have an algorithm that learns what I’m swiping right on, so I’m getting more suggested matches that actually align with my taste (as opposed to an endless sea of skinny white boys with thinly veiled conservative political views). It’s nice, but now that I’m actually taking the time to look at what my matches’ profiles say, woo, boy, there is some weird shit in there.

For example: Must know how to make a home cooked meal. Well, seeing as I mastered the art of scrambling an egg last year, it’s not that I don’t know how to make a home cooked meal. Sure, my culinary skills are pretty fucking basic, and I feel shy about that sometimes. But having this be a primary ask on your dating profile is a bit much. Probably because when I see this I know I’m exactly not the type of woman they’re looking for, so obviously I’m a bit piqued. I’m really good at paying for meals – does that count for nothing?! Can’t I have a career and not enough time to know how to make ribs?I mean, I guess I could learn how to cook more interesting meals, but the expectation that I should already have mastered this fairly complex skill when they’re offering me – what? What are they offering me that I don’t already have? *scours Hinge profile* Yup, can’t find anything on here that merits me cooking for this man. Out of all the things a guy could put on his dating profile, this one red flags as “I’m looking for a servant not a partner” to me. Eh, maybe I should take more pride in my culinary abilities. Not because I want to be a better Hinge match, but because, fuck you! I can do anything I set my mind to, and I’ll still be too good for whatever basic ass bullshit blows my way on these basic ass dating apps. God damn it.

Anxiety Dating

I want him to love me. I want him to be in love with me. And I’m probably willing to do anything to accomplish that. Fuck. As I’m sitting there in my gold teeth, Chanel chain, lavender Mongolian lamb coat, and pink velvet ankle boots, I realize: I’ve probably overshot the mark on this one. As usual. God, why am I such a fucking try-hard. I’m trying to be witty and winning and funny in this otherwise unremarkable sports bar on a Tuesday night, feeling slightly awkward and out of place. Kicking myself for shooting so low, yet again, with my romantic ambitions. Yes, his dick is huge, but woman cannot live on dick alone. I’m putting all this effort into appearing girlfriendly, but what the fuck is he doing for me? I’m desperately trying to seem lovable, but does he even want me to love him? Or just fuck him. Sigh. Eye roll. Whatever.

This is just who I am. Or, this is who I have become after being raised Catholic. I still can’t seem to separate myself from all that early childhood indoctrination I endured. I should be a good wife! I should cook! I should clean! I should bear children! All of which I rebelled against very thoroughly, but, in retrospect, it wasn’t a very effective rebellion because I just found myself in relationship after relationship with men who echoed those sentiments in post modern, pop culture iterations. Suck dick! Be obedient! Behave yourself! Do as you’re told!

God, I can’t stand this. This man is probably just like every other man I date: depressed, nonfunctional, brilliant but bogged down by the confines of society. They say that you date the parent that you had the most problems with, and as I look at the roster of exboyfriends and exlovers, I can’t help but realize: damn, I did not know my mom was that fucked up of a person. Poor girl.

I want something better than that. I want something that doesn’t require a bottomless pit of effort in order for me to feel like I deserve love. I just want to relax. To wear my ridiculous outfits and not feel like a fucking spectacle. To be witty and weird and not constantly feel like I’m saying the wrong thing. I just want to be myself and have that be okay. Instead of constantly trying to hide myself because that’s the only way anyone will ever love me.

I’m probably overthinking this. I mean – I’m definitely overthinking this. That’s just what I do. It’s why I’m dressed up like a cream puff in a sports bar talking too much about the long and rich history of Emeryville, yet again. Mulling over in my mind how can I use every day conversation to build rapport, to build trust, to demonstrate my character, to be vulnerable, to be strong, to build intimacy and generate attraction. All of these things should add up to this person liking me. But he’s here, so he must like me on some level, even if this entire process feels inscrutable, and there he is, a mystery laid before me that I must crack open and understand. God, it’s so much work. Why can’t I just find a cheat code and skip to the part where I get to find out if this is a good decision or not. Why do I have to put all my weeknights and weekends into discerning: who the fuck is this person? And do I like myself when I’m around him? What if the answer is no? What if this is a massive waste of time? Should I be playing the field more? Fucking a million other people? How the fuck do people even get into relationships?

Okay, okay, calm down, it’s not that difficult. People do it all the time. Maybe if I just relax my way into this, I’ll yield good results. Although, no, I don’t want to slip and fall into another relationship because that was horrible. Must set goals for myself. Which feels so transactional, but fuck it. If I don’t have a vision and I don’t have direction, then I’ll wind up falling off an emotional cliff just like I did last time. Focus. I need focus.

So I sip my gin and soda, smile, and see what the fuck happens. I’m having a good time. This is good. I like being out, so even if this turns out a total wash, at least I’m enjoying myself. Everything is going to be okay. I’ll be okay. Right?

Disgrace

“What do you have to say to the women who will never forgive you?”

“That sounds like such a horrible burden that they’ve decided to keep carrying.”

Vice Investigates recently aired their fifth episode, Disgrace. It examines the aftermath of the #metoo movement for two of the accused, Charlie Hallowell and Jay Asher. I was particularly interested in watching it because, well, I was a part of the lawsuit brought against Charlie Hallowell and my story was part of the original San Francisco Chronicle article that broke the story.

I have a lot to say about this. First of all, it’s really awkward and trippy to have a traumatic moment relived on television. When I worked at Penrose, Charlie came up to me, put his arm around me and asked me, “When was the last time someone came inside you?” Holy shit, it’s always really awkward to know that everyone who read about that and is watching this episode has been given a quick glimpse into one of the most awful, humiliating moments of my bartending career. How often am I going to have to relive that? I’m glad we’re making progress with feminism, and if this is the price I have to pay, then okay, I’ll live with it, but, omigod. That was not why I turned on the TV tonight. So that was accompanied with a wave of panic and shame.

Secondly, god, the entire thing made me feel so fucking gross. Initially, I only wanted to watch it because Karina, my friend and co-defendant, gave an interview for the piece. I guess I hadn’t thought about how nauseous and repulsed and creeped out the entire thing would make me feel. It felt like someone was trying to reach in my head and manipulate me through my television set. Not in the ‘all television is propaganda’ kinda way, but in a hyperspecific way that was aimed at exactly me and about thirty other women who stood up to Charlie back then. The quote above was what really got me – as though Charlie were trying to trick me into forgiving him as a way to seek validation from me in the most desperate yet condescending way possible. What a fucking con job.

Thirdly, I love Tarana Burke’s perspective in the story. She said that it is up to the survivors and the community to decide how the men come back. Throughout the episode, we are shown Charlie’s struggles, the time he has put in at therapy, the suffering he has gone through, his financial situation. He talks about losing two of his restaurants and the financial burden of trying to keep his other two restaurants open. In an attempt to be objective, I understand that his depiction of his business situation can garner sympathy. However, we, the survivors, immediately asked that Charlie step down from his restaurants. That was what we wanted. That was what we saw as the first step to redemption for Charlie. He didn’t do that. Charlie decided to hang onto his businesses, which, sure, I get it, it’s probably hard to walk away from an empire that you have built from scratch. But Charlie admitted in the episode that his attempt to hang onto that empire has plunged him into massive debt. The irony here is not lost on me: if Charlie had actually listened to us and stepped back from his restaurants, he probably wouldn’t be in the dire financial situation he finds himself in today. But he decided to do it his way, to try to save the restaurants. I’m not sure if that’s working for him, but if he loses all of his restaurants, then the survivors will have gotten what they asked for initially, and he will have gone about it in the most self destructive manner possible.

Lastly, a manager at one of his restaurants engaged in restorative justice with Charlie and welcomed him back because she didn’t believe that cancelling Charlie was the change she wanted to see in the world. In response to that, I would just like to state that the local restaurant world is indeed changing. I’ve been working in the bar and restaurant industry for the past eight years, and recently there has been an uptick in ownership and visibility of women, immigrant, POC and queer owned establishments. As Charlie has faded away, new stars have come into focus, and this place has changed. Cancelling Charlie Hallowell was one piece in the puzzle of making this industry an equitable and safe place for everybody. If anybody thinks that cancelling Charlie was the only thing that we have done to make these changes, then they simply aren’t paying attention.