I would not describe myself as a mean person. When I have been it was directed at men that posed a threat to my heart. It generally was slightly mean spirited banter in jest to test the others responses. Would they attack or laugh it off or stand up for themselves and ask me why I would say that?
I have consistently been surprised to discover that the men I meet are great people. They are soft and vulnerable no matter their large towering size. I think it’s a miracle whenever we are confronted with our prejudices and they are systemically proven incorrect. Whenever I am confronted with men I see how misplaced my small expectations of them are…obviously my automatic pilot is rooted in my childhood and it believes that men are to be distrusted, that they lack empathy, that they are hard and violent and dangerous. It surprises me often that these ideas time and again are wrong. There certainly are bad people that include bad men but it can’t be luck that the men I meet continuously across religious lines and borders are all good and nice people. Better people then me.
It takes sometimes meeting the worst to finally see not only how human we all are but how great most people can be.
About four weeks ago I tried a new dating application for people that share my culture and faith. It was highly recommended so out of curiosity I got on it and met a man named Ben. He was wicked smart and able to read me well and within a matter of hours had already deconstructed me. I was impressed.
On my trip to Paris I met another man from a similar site. The nicest man I have ever met. The kind you should marry. The kind that strokes your back when you are telling him a hard story. The one that listens and empathizes with your pain and you find that you are telling him your life despite knowing that there are plenty of people you shouldn’t open up to about it. It was hard to not fall for him. But…as it happens, he is in love with another woman and will be for probably longer than one will ever know. So I took that rejection on the chin and aimed at being friends.
So then there was Ben. We had already had a few misunderstandings in our chats partly because I thought I was rather funny, but he didn’t see the humor.
I asked him one day how he has a personal life as he lives with his parents. He said he has a life: exhibit A) a sex friend and B) has had sex twice last week.
I asked why not just date her? She obviously is putting in the time. He said no it’s not possible for him but didn’t explain why but added that he knows for certain she doesn’t want a relationship with him, a good looking successful young man.
I asked him if he was sure it was her that wanted sex without any relationship. In all my years here I have yet to meet a Moroccan woman that will happily sleep without any exchange on a regular basis. The conversation was from my side just innocent curiosity but for him it imploded into WW3. His anger was probably out of being questioned and shame. Perhaps he felt he had contradictions like many other human beings and sometimes our needs make us ignore others. I gave him the benefit of the doubt he was verbally abusive because he was in pain. I had perhaps triggered something deep without knowing. He went off the map for the next few days.
On going out to a club I accidentally ran into him. He was gracious and invited me to sit with his table of friends. I was drunk and dancing and having fun to the delight of my friends who found me adorable. On his end, his table found me crazy as they all sat squarely in their seats. He claimed I had been rude (code for not paying enough attention and left too soon) but followed that statement with “but I don’t care”. I told him I was sorry.
The last time we spoke I did with him what I consistently have been doing over the past year with too many men– I ask that they answer me within the same day as they demand from me. If I don’t respond in 5 minutes I get multiple “Hellos” and question marks and exclamation points but these same men let me wait for 24 hours to answer. I expect basic manners or a simple “I am not interested”.
As soon as I stand up for myself, I wait for them to lose their cool which leads to the end of us talking. So with all my year of tried and true experience I waited to see the same effect standing up for myself has on men. He unloaded on me that he was looking for hot girls and I was definitely not his type. I asked why he had bothered talking all these weeks if that was the case as he was still following me on social media. He repeated a few more times that I was not beautiful enough for him. Then he said I was not normal.
I agreed that I am indeed not “normal”. I do not “need” a man. I do like sex. No I love sex. I am not interested in money. None of the normal things I should stereotypically want as a woman in a man’s world.
Although he protested about how much he didn’t like me he still asked for me to send him more pictures and more and more. I observed how he held a mix of desire and rejection for me. He asked about my photos and who had taken them. He was apparently very concerned with a girl he doesn’t like.
He had admitted before he found himself unattractive and shy. He was unsure of himself in many ways and angry although he had everything. Partly all his aggression and protest made me think he had a point to prove, not so much a truth to tell but the more he barked the more compassion I had even if he hurt my feelings. I realized that he had compared himself to me continually at every turn in our conversations in the last month and now it came to a climax.He was aiming to give me as much pain as he held in him and tried his best with all this cleverness.
He did finally say my pictures were beautiful but followed it with how unique he was, because unlike other men who would love me he feels nothing. He claimed the only reason I was insisting to talk to him is because I could not accept his rejection.
He then followed that with engaging me in questions like: “What do you like in bed?”
Then he denigrated me for having sex at all. Of course!
I had for duty’s sake, explain to him that I and women in general are not dolls. His future wife and daughter will not be dolls they will be people, who will like sex (or at least I hope his wife does) and bleed and explore so he should leave some room for us to be human.
That of course made him even more angry. (Go figure.)
Instead of answering what I said he repeated that I am not elegant and I am not attractive to Him and he has no envy to know me. Great!
He then angrily expressed that we will never be together. I asked him why he was so angry. He said he wasn’t angry at all. He said he wanted nothing to do with me.
I fell sick the next day partly from the trip to Fes and partly from this man’s energy. But pain is good. It makes you take time and reflect and I did. I thought about somethings he said. His attack made me ask my self: Was I trying to save him? Was I trying to prove something to myself, like he said I was, instead of just letting the rejection and the pain go through me. Was I even admitting that he had hurt me?
I think he was right on one point. I was trying to prove that I was valuable and I wanted to help him. I wanted to give him advice and I wanted to love him but where was that coming from? It is not my job to care for every broken man I meet. Why did I want to fix him and be of service? Maybe he was right to say I have no confidence in myself.
From this experience of meeting a broken man, I actually have gratitude for both all the others that have been kind with me and I also appreciate that his hate and aggression have been teachers. I realized how awful I have been in the past to people who were kind with me. How broken I once was too at many moments in my life.
I also had to admit that as strong as I am, I also can feel pain from random acts of violence. I sat with my pain finally and let it do its work. It seeped through me and told me I was honest and strong enough to feel it and admit that someone smaller than me had hurt me and that was okay. Why? Because I am beautiful. More than I even know. I am good as he is good. He is no less than me. He is my broken brother in arms.
I might never know his pains’ origin and it is not my business, but I can understand him, even in just his pain.
Thank goodness I met him, I thought. Thank goodness I met a man that confirmed all my stereotypes but did not let me forget all the beautiful men I have known. I appreciate and love the kindness even more now.