Back in college, this girl in our dorm was ostentatious about her “long distance relationship.” She couldn’t go five minutes without mentioning “my boyfriend.” She did it so frequently that we just started referring to the guy as “My Boyfriend.” We’d even tease her about it: “How’s My Boyfriend today?” “Have you gotten this week’s letter from My Boyfriend yet?” I don’t think we ever actually learned the poor bastard’s name.(1)
They did me a solid, this chick and My Boyfriend. Listening to her, I realized that my first few relationships failed because I was trying to be My Boyfriend, while trying to mold her into My Girlfriend. I started being myself around girls, and taking them as they came. Turns out that when you stop trying to force people into templates, you get laid more.
Which is not to say templates are bad. Templates — roles, social expectations, whatever you choose to call them — are heuristics, like stereotypes, and like stereotypes they’re generally pretty accurate. We expect the wooer to act in a certain way, the better for us to be wooed. Knowing the rules — and knowing why, when, and how to break them — is how one displays one’s social savvy.(2) Take away the templates, and…
….well, that’s just it, isn’t it? Human societies are monkey troops; social roles are hardwired. Take away the traditional roles — force men to be free, as Rousseau put it — and we just make up new ones for ourselves. The only difference is, now we have to neurotically reinforce those roles every chance we get, because nobody’s sure the message is being received. Dorm Girl, of course, was deeply insecure about her relationship with My Boyfriend — that’s why she kept broadcasting her total devotion to him even as she was screwing half the guys in the building.
This must be causing severe damage to kids these days. Teenage social life is an exercise in differential diagnosis — because I am this (e.g. a stoner), I am not that (a preppie). It was given that you can try on as many identities as you felt you needed, because everyone was doing it — nobody mocked this week’s preppie for being last week’s burnout, because everyone was something else last week and will be some other thing next week.
At least, that’s how it used to be. Now everyone’s wonderful just the way they are, and since we’re forbidden under pain of law to notice that some people are different, the old roles make no sense. It’s equally awesome and affirming to be anything at all — when the headbanger gets the same smiley sticker and lollipop as the head cheerleader, how can you possibly figure out just who the hell you’re supposed to be?
So you end up like this poor SOB. In case you don’t want to read another long Stacy McCain piece about mentally ill feminist (BIRM) — and you’re doing the Lord’s work, Mr. McCain, but holy guacamole how do you stand it? — this is a tranny insisting that guys who don’t want to date guys dressed like girls are sexist. I’m confident that Mr./Ms. Dennis isn’t “transsexual.” I’d bet a fair amount that he’s just a gay guy who went to a rich, impeccably liberal high school where being gay was ostentatiously, obnoxiously just as good as straight. In a school like that — where everything you say, do, and wear is praised, and not praising them is a hate crime — how does a moody, confused teenager (BIRM) distinguish himself?
By becoming herself. And then she goes off to a pricey liberal arts school — Whittier College, annual tuition $45,730 — and majors in English, a subject where feelz haven’t been in the same ballpark as realz since Wordsworth, and in which one can recycle for four years the same basic essay about the travails of being one’s very own specially-persecuted self. Is it any wonder this kid’s a mess?
Yes, under the old dispensation, Mr./Ms. Dennis would’ve been shoved into more than a few lockers. And that sucks, but… is it worse than a lifetime locked in a self-imposed bubble of hormone-injected solipsism?
(1) n.b. to college guys: Girls who do this are all but begging you to pick them up. Sure, sure, it’s much easier to do a “long distance relationship” in the social media age, but take it from your elder, kids — there is no such thing as a “long distance relationship” in college. “I’ve got a boyfriend back home” means one of two things: Either “I’m never sleeping with you, so don’t even try;” or “I’m ready to sleep with you if you have any Game at all.” What with the “rape culture” and all, I’d be very, very sure which is which… but guys, this is almost always a layup.
(2) That’s really all there is to “Game.” It’s basically just Method Acting — Daniel Day Lewis (or someone like that) actually lives the character as much as possible (refusing to eat anything but meat he’d killed himself while filming Last of the Mohicans, for example). A “pickup artist” (or whatever they call themselves these days) studies everything about “alpha males” and actually lives that role as much as possible. It seems immoral to lots of us, but, sex aside, is it really different from Day Lewis refusing to leave his wheelchair for the entire My Left Foot shoot?