I can’t remember when I heard this but it as served me well.
I keep it in mind, every time I allow a man to take me out and my inner pickme is worried that he won’t feel like he’s getting a good bargain, with razzle dazzling me with a $30 dinner but no physical contact from me in exchange.
I keep it in mind when I lean over the table, or play with my hair, giving the impression that I may be sexually available, when in fact I am not for at least a few months, but he doesn’t know that.
I keep it in mind when I think about how much extra time, energy and money I spent to look like that, that he didn’t have to, because I know he will receive me better, because they always do.
I keep it in mind, because it reminds me that if I in turn were to offer the gift of my body, which- not to be crass but- would easily go for thousands of dollars on the open market for a night of lovin’, he would happily and guiltlessly accept without thinking for a moment that he ”owed“ anything, certainly not an emotional investment. So why should I feel like I “owe” someone anything for a goddamn dinner besides polite company, even if I know on first glance I would never fuck him but would like to enjoy the dinner anyway?
I keep it in mind, because it reminds me that men won’t hesitate to accept a bargain package of cook/maid/escort/therapist/nanny/social coordinator/incubator, and never considered it exploitation as long as she‘s offering, and that’s part of why men (along with their predisposition to be more aggressive) run things.
I keep it in mind because I know the odds are against me for him sticking around if I become chronically ill, so I better use that marriage as a stepping stone to stash as much cash as I can, for when that time potentially comes to hire out consistent care.
I keep it in mind because I know most men don’t see me as all the way human, but a service provider. And, especially when they make that explicitly clear, I have every right to exploit the desires/cravings they- not “can’t” but- won’t keep in check, to advance my own position personally and professionally.
I keep it in mind because I know I wasn’t the one who designed a system whereby 1) the presence and attention of a man increases my social capital and 2) looking good with all the beauty standard entrapments means I will be treated better, I was born into it….and while I will shout from the rooftops to other women that it is absolute bullshit, I also understand that we do what we need to do to get a foothold in the world we live in.
So if you ever feel guilty for receiving anything from a man when you have no intention of fulfilling his wishes but gosh he seems like such a nice guy….don’t feel bad. If he wants to be mad at anyone, he should be mad at the system you live under, and the men who perpetuate it by not seeing women as people. How it is so pervasive, we can’t know early on which he is. And he should recognize how he benefits from that system. A good man will understand, appreciate your presence assuming you behave in an HV manner, and he will work to balance the scales, not nickle and dime you to try to stay on top, as his gender always has since time immemorial. Things can change to where he receives the full benefits of your generous heart, once he has sufficiently proven over time through action, commitment, and investment, that he is the exception to the rule of his class. And in the long run, he’ll benefit. Married men just do better.
But in the meantime, you’re not exploiting a person so much as you’re exploiting a system.