I Hate This Feeling

How I become a misogynist every time I see a hot chick

An attractive woman at a coffee shop.

I'm sitting at my local Starbucks, and this woman comes in, and wow, she is so beautiful to me I can no longer focus on what I was working on. She's not just pretty in all the usual ways that most people agree on as being attractive. She's hitting all the right buttons for me in particular. She's got really course, long black wavy hair. Her skin is a darker shade of golden tan. She's wearing glasses with thick black frames. Along with her laptop, she's got papers and folders all around her. She's working on some spreadsheets or something businessy looking, so, y'know, she's got stuff to do in her life, which is super hot.

Oh man, I really want to talk to her. But the set up feels kind of wrong. It's not just that she seems kind of busy doing actual work. I'd have to get up and walk around the large table we're both sitting at, and in an almost dead quiet room, start engaging in a behaviour that she and everyone else would recognize for what it is. Then depending on how good or bad it went, I could possibly be the topic of everyone's amusing anecdote for the day.

I've read some Pick Up Artist manuals, and they call this "approach anxiety." On the one hand, logically, in the robot part of my brain, I know that I will almost certainly never see this woman, nor any of these people in this room, ever again, so who gives a shit what any of them think? There's nothing to lose and everything to gain by going and talking to her. But the part of me that is in the drivers seat is a more emotional part of me, something more fundamental and distinctly human. We evolved to give a shit about the opinions of others, and if you don't, you're a sociopath. I feel the weight of the anonymous judgment of her and everyone around us holding me down in my seat. And I'm not a particularly shy person when it comes to approaching women.

For most of my life, I have had one thing going for me when it comes to meeting women, which is that my fear of being alone is stronger than my fear of embarrassment, which would give me the forward momentum I needed to push through. I've felt "approach anxiety," but I'd often suck it up and make a move. Most women I've dated in my life are not through friends of friends, but completely random women I've talked to on the street, in shops, at cafes, or wherever. There are a lot of devils in the details, though. Some situations feel right for going up and talking to woman out of the blue, some don't. This situation is on the edge. I'm wavering.

A guy who I used to see at the gym sometimes once said to me, when it comes to approaching women, "if you think long, you think wrong." I'm thinking too wrong with this woman. How bad do I want to go talk to her? How much do I value her response? And how confident am I that I'll get a positive result? It's hard to ask myself that question without asking how much do I value myself. Why should she see anything in me if I don't see anything in me? Do I see anything in me? She may be my fantasy, but am I hers? The more I consider the implications of talking to her, the more it becomes a launching point into confronting my insecurities.

I hate this situation. It would be easier if she weren't there, being pretty, making me think about her.

Misogyny is often defined as hating women, which never made much sense to me. I get that men can be sexist dicks to women, I get that men can treat women with little or no respect, I get that men can think of women as being of no more value than what they can provide sexually. All of which are shitty ways to look at women, and I've been guilty of the last item there at least. But none of those attitudes are based on hatred. A man who only wants a woman for sex is treating her like a thing, but in the same way someone can think of a diamond or their car as both a thing and highly valuable, reductive thinking doesn't equal derisive thinking.

Men, as far as I've experienced them by both being one and talking to them when women aren't around, never express a straight up hatred of women. All negativity that I've ever seen springs from the frustration at having their desires for and expectations of women going unmet. Men are socalized to believe that winning at life means being able to exercise control over your circumstances, and women are a circumstance not easily controlled. I've met men who have been through brutal divorces, years of inability to date women, and all sorts of circumstances that have hardened them to the point where they express all sorts of crazy and harsh denouncements of women and why they are a problem. But it all comes from the fact that these men want women, but can't seem to have them. I just can't see that as a form "hatred" of women, the same way racists hate people of different races.

Then I read somewhere that misogyny doesn't refer to hatred of woman themselves, but of the effect women have on men. That clicked with me. It's similar to how homophobia isn't a fear of gay people. Far as I can tell, the only people who feel homophobia are people who feel something inside themselves that they are afraid might emerge. Similarly, no man hates women, but they really, really hate the effect women have on them. They hate that women inspire feelings that they can't control, can't act on, can't fulfill, and it's easier to resent the target of those feelings than it is to confront the feelings themselves.

While I'm sitting there, looking at this woman that I want to talk to, I can feel all sorts of emotions and reactions to emotions that make me feel out of control, and I don't like it. She's not doing anything to me, but she's still the source, and it's human nature to attribute intention to a source. How dare she sit there, being pretty and desirable and making it so that I can't even concentrate on the thing that I was typing into my laptop. Bitch.

I don't know if all other guys feel the same as me, or if women ever feel this way, and there's probably all sorts of individual variation that makes grand pronouncements impossible anyway. But me, when a woman walks in the room that I'm attracted to, it makes me agitated. I have to really force myself to concentrate on other things. I feel an internal pressure that if I don't at least try to talk to her, then I'm going to spend the rest of the day regretting it. Or longer. There are a few times that I chickened out on approaching a woman that I remember and regret years afterwards.

It's not an issue of conquest, which is how I suspect most women see it, even though I can't claim to know what happens in anyone else's head. I just feel that women I've talked to about it see men who come up and talk to them as hunting, in a sense, to take something from the woman, her mutual desire for that thing being of secondary or no concern. I know guys like that, but, they aren't the type of guy that I become close friends with. Most guys I know just want the same things every human wants, companionship and connection, but, it's understandable why woman would be on the defensive in the playing field of today's society.

The end result of what I want from meeting a woman, though, whatever the end result may be, isn't even really driving my initial impulses. It's on a deeper, more visceral level. Arguably, I just want to fuck her. Also arguably, every emotionally entwined relationship full of mutually fulfilling experiences I've ever had started out with wanting to fuck her. So I don't see that drive as hollow, just step one in a process. It's a spark that may or may not find fuel.

Just from looking at her, I don't know if she's an awesome and fun person I would like to hang out with, or a total asshole. All I know is that she's pretty, she's my type visually, and there's a compulsion there to want questions answered. On the way between the moment of sitting there, having no idea who she is except for her appearance, and some time in the future when I know she's someone I'd want to see again or not, there's just a wordless drive to want to reach that milestone. I can actually feel it, a mild form of tingly anxiety in the base of my spine, similar to how I feel in a roller coaster just before it takes the first dive downward.

If I don't talk to her, it's because I was afraid of rejection, and I'm afraid of rejection because it's an evaluation of who I am. Yeah, intellectually I know all the reasons why that's not true. For all I know she's three weeks pregnant and not looking for another guy in her life, which has nothing to do with me and maybe if I had met her two years prior to her current relationship, she'd be down to try things out. Or maybe she's just super fucking busy with her work that moment and having dudes hit on her would be just as unwelcome as when I'm on stage and someone heckles.

Of course, the hardest version of events to contextualize in a comforting way is that she simply doesn't think I'm as appealing as I do her. She has every right to not want to see what's what with me for any reason, no matter how serious or spurious. And even if that's the case, it still doesn't mean there's anything wrong with me. It just means she isn't buying what I'm selling, my market is elsewhere. It's easy to know that, much harder to feel it.

It feels unfair that some desire has been evoked in me that I must act on. Evoked by her. Bitch. Just sitting there, completely oblivious to how much I'm sitting over here, focused on her. She doesn't have to do any thinking at all! She can just sit there being all smug in her sexiness, without a care in the world, and if I walk up to her and say hi, she gets to crush every butterfly in my stomach if she wants.

I think where the trap of misogyny gets some guys is to actually let that feeling become a reality. They see women as diamonds that know they're valuable, and exploiting that power. As if women are standing on the side of a conveyor belt of men offering themselves up for the woman's approval, and discounting so many worthwhile men based on fleeting whimsy.

Of course, women may have very good reasons for rejecting a man in any particular situation. There were times that I was so aggressive or persistent or awkward that I practically did everything in my power to ensure that the woman I was hitting on would never want anything to do with me. The problem is that there's no exit interview, no feedback, generally no way for any man to know why a woman really did reject him. She said she had a boyfriend, but was that just being gentle? It takes a lot of difficult introspection to even guess at what might be going wrong, and it's easier to just assume women are being whimsical in their choices. Or that women have flaws that make them unattracted to nice guys. Or whatever it is that makes it seem like honest assessment and merit doesn't matter. If merit is irrelevant, then there are no rules to the game. Without rules, there is no game, and therefor no way to win. And to be a successful man, you want to win. Women take all that away. Bitches, all of 'em.

All this tension inside of me wasn't really created by her, though, it was created by me. She's like a gift wrapped box that looks like it should have something awesome inside, but I won't know that until I open it. I'm investing a lot of my identity and emotional security on a lottery in a pretty container. I've been with women who I would have rathered they stay in the box, and it's very, very not worth it.

That's what I tell myself as she gets up to leave the room, that I don't really know her, and the odds are that I would have ended up not so enthused anyway.

But I should have tried.