Thank you for your thoughtful comment. I have a number of responses, which I’ll get to in a moment, but first, I’m sorry that I make you cringe. I’m sorry that I offend you. I’m sorry that reading my thoughts makes you “squirmy… knowing that there are guys like [me] out there.” I’m not sure why you keep reading me, but if I make you feel those things, please, stop – I wish you no harm, and wish only to make people think, and, if they’re so inclined, to feel turned on. If this blog does something less pleasant to you, please don’t read it. Unless, for some reason, you want to feel those things.
Most of what you write, of course, is true: I am eager to engage. I am lonely. I do get intimacy, love, power, and sexual attraction confused. Sometimes I do write because I’m bored. Or feel shame. I don’t understand my place “in all of it,” and my “messy life and blog reflect that.” While I’m sorry this blog bothers you, I’m glad it effectively communicates all those truths.
And about loneliness: I once heard a terrific talk by, I think, Jack Kornfield, in which he described the durability of his loneliness. He talked about how he imagined that falling in love and having a family would somehow cure his lifelong loneliness, and how he came to understand that his loneliness was something he carried around inside him, something that seemed not to respond to outward connection. I’m that way. My life is big: I’m surrounded by people I love, and who love me. Family, friends, colleagues, members of any number of communities in which I participate. My loneliness persists, a chasm installed in me by my parents, who did their best, but who, inevitably, failed me in many ways.
I’ve written a lot over the years about why I write, what it does for me to share my thoughts and feelings here so honestly. And I’ve written many of those same thoughts you articulate, often in strikingly similar words.
A good thing about blogs is that they are voluntary, to readers: no one needs to read this. I don’t ask anyone to read it. Over the years, anywhere from 50 to 1000 people have visited this blog daily. On average, about 60% of the visitors on any given day are coming back, having been here before, wanting to read more. Something like 80-90% of my returning readers are women. The comment section of the blog is something like 80-90% favorable, I would estimate. Maybe a bit less so. I don’t say that as defense: I’m sure the vast majority of people in the world would hate what I write. And I’m sure that some portion of the folks who don’t return to the blog after visiting once or twice find me loathsome, as you do. That’s fine. I’m not seeking converts. I’m seeking to communicate, to expose, to explore, and yes, to medicate.
Some of what you write, alas, is simply wrong: the post I wrote, for example, about the Muslim woman and her shopping bag of underwear did not describe me getting turned on. If you read it, I think you’ll see that. It described my thoughts and emotions, which, in that case, were not particularly sexual. You write that I am “obviously not writing to a female audience.” As I just wrote, the vast majority of those who read this blog are female. I’ve met a number of women as a direct result of this blog – women who appreciate what I write, who are turned on by what I write. You, evidently, do not fall into that category. That’s ok.
I’m sorry that my writing reminds you of the painful and unpleasant reality you live every time you leave your apartment. But let’s stop for a moment and wonder about that, because I’m intrigued. I am not a guy who turns his head when an attractive woman passes. I don’t whistle, or catcall. I don’t, explicitly, sexualize women in non-sexual contexts. When I see a man do any of those things, I often communicate my disapproval explicitly. Not because I’m “woke,” but because I’m embarrassed for my gender 99% of the time.
My writing on this blog and the engagement I’ve had with readers has caused all sorts of change in my thoughts and life. I’ve come to understand a lot about the impact of my actions on others over the years, and I’ve apologized (privately and publicly) to women who’ve been impinged by my imperfect expressions of desire.
I’ve spent much of my adult life reconciling the twin realities that most women don’t want to be objectified by strangers most of the time and that I, at least, am a profoundly sexual being who responds sexually to most women (and to a lesser degree, to most men). And, that there are women who, in certain contexts, crave objectification. Consensual, respectful objectification. But objectification.
Like many of us, I feel a tremendous amount of free-floating, uninvited, sexual shame. I often am appalled by my thoughts, my feelings. I don’t imagine this distinguishes me from anyone who’s paying close attention to her or his thoughts and feelings.
What I try to do here, and, I think, I do so for the most part successfully, is to explore those parts of myself I find most confusing, unclear, uncomfortable, mysterious. I don’t make many of the claims your comment implies I make: I don’t think I’m “woke.” I don’t think I’m “normal” (whatever the fuck that is) or “healthy.” I think I’m human. What I do here is expose my humanity. I do that, as I said, for a whole lot of reasons. Including, to get attention and approval. And engagement.
It horrifies me that, inevitably, inescapably, I am condemned to perpetuating many of the ways in which male power affects women. If I could wave a magic wand and make it stop, I would. I can’t.
And a final thought. You write that I should “change therapists” if I’m not “getting to the bottom of [my] truth.” Maybe you and I have different concepts of “my truth.” My truth, and the very bottom of it, is, I think, richly on display here. I am a messy person. I hurt people, I make people feel good. I affect people consciously and unconsciously in all sorts of ways. I try to be good and, I imagine, I fail more often than I succeed. I don’t have a fantasy that I am, or could be, perfect. I try hard, though, and I don’t allow myself to stop trying hard. I constantly revisit opinions I hold, trying to upend them, to hold them more loosely. I try to understand things I don’t understand, and to imagine that I may not understand those things I think I understand.
You write that you’re “grossed out by the lack of awareness [I] show.” Ok….
I love writing. I love engaging. I love power. I love learning. I love sex. And I love connecting with people. It makes me feel whole. Even when, as with you, that connection is imperfect.
I wish you well, and I appreciate your thoughts. I hope I’ve satisfied – or at least addressed – your curiosity.