I’m on a date. We’ve just met and now we’re fated to “get to know each other.” Inevitably, for some “getting to know each other” isn’t ever actually genuine. The phase usually repulsively resembles a mixture of a high-intensity interrogation and a standardized test — you know the questions are leading inaccurate displays of the self, but you answer them anyway, feeling the tension grow throughout the process with every not-so-perfect response you answer with.
Maybe I’m just grossly hyper ware of how disingenuous most dates are. Among the questions that are falsely framed as an attempt to “get to know,” there are often some about art, and I mean any type of art — music, books, visual art, etc.
Dates, in many ways, are like competitions. I don’t implore you in any way to think about things like this, but as I have grown up in a society that put great value on competition and often pits the sexes against each other in their societally inflated differences, dates have become competitions.
And we can see that competitive drive exist on many different levels. First and foremost, the competition begins with the “getting to know” you game. It all begins when you’re asked what your favorite (insert form of art) here. Most frequently, I get, “What kind of music do you like?” I would like to be clear that I believe that this question is, the majority of the time, a purely innocent one. Music, like other forms of art, are ways to connect with someone. often, we connect with people through our common interests.
I’ll give you two different scenarios to this question. They are both the most likely scenarios, and frequently they are the only ones I receive:
Let’s say I answer the question, and let’s say that answer doesn’t please him. The immediate response is something along the lines of completely ignoring my response—because it wasn’t the “right” answer—and an automatic reversal of the conversation’s focus. Because I didn’t say something he liked or something that was impressive, he now is going to impress me—taking on the role of subject. In these brief moments, I feel as almost if they are the passing-bys of what these men think equality is. “I thought she was cool, I gave her a chance, but she was just so lame.” Well, no, actually, you never spoke to her.
In this scenario, a guy starts saying things like, “Oh, well, I’m really into X and Y.” If I get really lucky, he’ll tell me, “You know, it’s okay that you don’t know, they’re actually pretty obscure anyway.” Those ones are the real keepers.
But, on the other hand, let’s say that When I answer the question, he’a happy with my response. “Oh, you know them? They’re great. But what I really think grasps (insert ridiculous emotion/feeling) is (insert long list of obscure artists).” Needless to say, these artists in both situations only serve one purpose: to use the music they like as symbols of themselves.
Generally, it would be pretty ridiculous to completely disregard a simple exchange of common interests, too bad that’s never the situation during dates. On dates, “common interests” are just a code words for a test based on how many names you can drop that hold value. Basically, common interests are traded as social capital. Just because you can recite names of bands or authors or artists, doesn’t mean you’re a good person.
As an English major and as a college student in general, this happens to me all the time. It doesn’t happen only in interactions with men (although we all know that they’re commons exist within the patriarchy), it happens with all people. This kind of one-upping attitude is the result of the value we put on competitive mindsets. And it’s so exhausting.Just because you can recite names of bands or authors or artists, doesn't mean you're a good person. Click To Tweet
Believe me, I can recite the names of authors and bands and artists. I can read up on Wikipedia pages and read summaries online. It’s easy to learn what’s considered valuable to someone. It’s easy to pull out name after name after name. That’s so easy because that serves no purpose. Name-dropping serves no other purpose than to falsely elevate that person’s status, and I’m so goddamn tired of it.
I can’t get this through people’s heads enough — your interests do not equate to your value. Period. From a very young age, young girls are mansplained at. They are shown that what they like represents themselves. So, if you like Barbies, you’re a Barbie girl, whereas if you like anything remotely considered to be associated with boys, you are considered a tomboy. This continues throughout life. But we need to break out of the cage of using the things we like to represent us.
For years, intellectual inferiority stemmed from these interactions. I would be on a date and feel truly inferior for not knowing that band or that artist or that book, and knowing how much I had let that person down. This was before I saw through their actions. I became so acutely aware of how “little” I knew, and always thought that they were so much more educated or aware or cool. In reality, they were just using these artists to be more than what they were.
Now I know.