I began to wear make-up every day when I was in university, not because I thought it would help me be taken more seriously, nor did I wear it because it felt mandatory. Rather, it acted as a projected image of a curated self I needed to survive. My life became centered around the idea of survival.
I learned to be distrustful of institutions: family, friends, church, state, academia–all make me nervous when they slide from individuals into group participants. All of my experience with institutions has shown me that is far too easy for loyalty to slide into groupthink as a system begins to police individual behavior. The Internet seems like yet another institution with rules and behaviors I cannot fathom.
I would very much like to believe that things would have progressed differently, with more empathy, had he and I been face-to-face. Truthfully, perhaps the only difference would have been my ability to predict his reaction and modulate my behavior, but that’s a difference with separate consequences all the same. I did not think we inhabited such different worlds that my words would be taken as “passive aggressive sidesteps” or “martyrdom” and my nod to girl culture would seem “condescending” and “elitist”.
I sincerely did not think he would be so angry.