I read in the paper that a 20 year old woman has just auctioned her virginity online for US$780,000. Wow, do I feel like a loser. Not only did I give my virginity away for free but the sex was so bad I’m not sure that we actually had sex.
In fact I not only didn’t get rich, nor internationally famous as a result of the alleged deflowering, but I also didn’t end up in a relationship because my boyfriend dumped me unceremoniously within half an hour of our ‘intimacy’ (and to be honest I suspect he would have done it sooner but he was waiting for half time in the footy telecast.)
To this day I can still hear him say, “You’re dropped. Go for a walk, have a cry and get me a kebab.”
And you know what? I did get him a kebab. I didn’t utter a word.
I didn’t beg to be reinstated as his girlfriend or demand to have my virginity back so that I could lose it properly.
I didn’t stand up for myself or try to put him down because it didn’t occur to me that his behaviour was unacceptable. My only thought was that I’d done something wrong and somehow deserved this treatment.
In retrospect I realise why I thought this way. Because girls like me have grown up with the label that puts us at fault for every male misdemeanour.
We are ‘intimidating’.
I recall first hearing this term in relation to my girlfriends and myself when we were about fifteen. Without ever bothering to question what the word actually meant we simply accepted that there was something negative about us that made us unacceptable to some males.
Our mothers told us we were ‘too bright’. We assumed of course that we weren’t attractive enough.
In the ensuing years I’ve since heard the word ‘intimidating’ used in reference to women in relation to both romance and the workplace, but I’ve only ever heard it used in relation to men who are demanding money from someone whilst holding a gun to their knee caps.
Yet it’s not until today, after being defined by the term ‘intimidating’ for over thirty years, that it occurred to me look up its meaning. ‘Intimidate: to scare, daunt, to make timid; to compete by way of threats; to overawe as through the force of personality or by superior display of wealth or talent; to cause a person of ordinary sensibilities fear of injury or harm.’
My God, I’m surprised I don’t need a license to take myself out in public. I’m like a lethal weapon.
My friend Poppy said we have to change this situation. “It’s affecting our careers, and our love lives,” she said. “If we don’t de-intimidate we’re going to die poor and alone and get eaten by rats.”
And so it came to pass that last Saturday night I had a date and beforehand gave myself an intimidation exorcism, consciously erasing every part of me that could threaten, challenge or unnerve.
I abandoned independence, freedom of thought, and discussion.
I let him pick me up in his car (which I praised, even thought it just seemed like a car).
I was late getting ready (in case being punctual was somehow competitive.) I dressed like the Queen (but with a little bit of cleavage.)
I praised his outfit, his choice of restaurant and his choice of main course. I let him order for me and pay. I giggled at every tenth thing he said (unsure as to whether anything he said was actually funny I figured a 10% ratio was possibly about right.)
I was not funny. I was not interesting. I did not offer an individual thought or observation. Notes to myself that I later found doodled on my serviette during the dinner read ‘Endure’, ‘Suffer in Silence’, ‘Drink More’ and ‘Wake Up.’
Ok, it’s true. I was on a date and I fell asleep at the dinner table. All I can say in my defense is at least I didn’t fall asleep during sex, like my friend Nigel once did. (Luckily however he’d taken so many Viagra that his sexual partner didn’t actually notice.)
What’s that? Cleavage? Oh, I totally forgot to wear it today!
Interestingly my dinner date didn’t notice that I’d fallen asleep either. In fact he later referred to the evening as reaching ‘a new and exciting stage in our relationship.’
He’s asked me out again. I think I’ll send a hologram of myself instead, and the real me will go to a Pussy Riot demo.
*Front page image via LIFE archive hosted by Google.
MORE ARTICLES BY GRETEL KILLEEN
*Gretel has written more then twenty books, worked as a journalist, radio host, TV host, voice artist, stand up comic, film director and doco maker, and has proudly raised her now adult children as a single mum. Gretel is a communications adviser with Gretel Killeen Communications. This is the first in a series of stories about searching for the meaning of life. You can follow her on twitter @gretelkilleen.