Anyone remember the time before caller ID was ubiquitous on everyone’s personal cell phone, and before the Do Not Call list existed? Remember getting repeated cold calls from sales people for magazine or newspaper subscriptions or to open new credit lines or to take surveys? I do. If you didn’t have caller ID, you had to answer the call, sort of, because what if you were ignoring a hospital calling to tell you a loved one was having an emergency? What if you were ignoring your partner or your brother or your best friend calling you from an isolated pay phone because they had a flat tire and no AAA? I always just said, ‘I’m not interested.’ And hung up. But they’d always call back.
“I’m not interested,” was meaningless to them.
And while that was super annoying, but relatively harmless, it’s not the only time my soft ‘no,’ of, ‘I’m not interested,’ has been ignored and dismissed.
My second semester in college, there was a young man who had a class with me who asked me to go out with him, and I said, “I’m not interested.” And he didn’t stop asking. He asked me multiple times, always getting a more and more nervous, ‘I’m not interested,’ as my reply. He was kind of like those telemarketers. I had to go to class, because that was a requirement to get my degree, and I actually liked the class (it was Comparative Governance), so I couldn’t totally avoid him and ‘not answer the call.’ It began as annoying and relatively harmless. Just a rote, irritated, incessant repeat of, ‘I’m not interested,’ that after a couple of dozen reruns evolved into, ‘No. Please stop asking me,’ because, like the telemarketers, he just didn’t take the obvious implications. The difference between him and the telemarketers was this…1. the telemarketers were being instructed by higher authority figures at jobs they were doing to financially survive, and were monetarily compensated to keep calling me and 2. the telemarketers almost always at, ‘No. Please stop calling me,’ ACTUALLY DID STOP. They made a note on their book or computer screen or whatever like, ‘Maybe this lady will get nasty if we call her back; she actually said ‘Stop Calling’.’
Which is…she actually gave a HARD ‘NO.’ Now we have to give what she says more weight or likely face some actual consequences. (We’ll get yelled at by her…maybe written up or fired if she asks to talk to a manager…whatever.)
The guy in my class didn’t stop. Even after the hard no. I guess he needed to be kicked in the balls and screamed at in rage, so he would have real clarity and could then play the victim from that ‘crazy bitch’ who so overreacted to his innocent interest in her. Or maybe he wouldn’t have even given up then. Who knows? I didn’t actually do that. I have a reputation for being cold and even mean, but contrary to that reputation, I’ve never physically harmed another human being, and I wouldn’t, barring serious self defense or defense of say…a child, particularly my child. I’m not a violent person. I’m really not even that mean. I just like having my boundaries respected. And apparently, for women, that makes me a battle-ax.
Instead, what I did was lie to him and tell him I had a boyfriend. And I formulated a list in my head of my most understanding guy friends whom I believed, if necessity dictated it, would actually pretend to BE my boyfriend and be formidable enough to scare this consent ignoring douche-nozzle who ignored my agency away from me. But I didn’t have to call upon one of the good men I knew to join me in deception. “I have a boyfriend,” worked. The guy backed off.
My ‘no’ didn’t mean shit to him. But some other man’s ‘claim’ on me did. To him, that meant I was ‘owned’ by another man. And he cared about this other man’s agency. Just not mine. That’s never stopped bothering me for a nearly infinite set of reasons.
And I’m writing about it today, because even with the Do Not Call List and caller ID and advanced internet technology, and relative anonymity, and over 16 years of loyal, happy commitment with J, it hasn’t stopped happening to me.
I like blogging. I really do. It’s helped my mental health and self esteem. It’s brought some wonderful people into my life. But unfortunately, here at WordPress, there is no effective ‘block’ feature. And there are a few people out there in the world who advertise and promote views that are abhorrent to me and whom I wish to not associate with in any way. So I’ve removed them repeatedly from my ‘followers’ list. I don’t have a lot of followers, but I’m not really here just to promote books to whoever wants to buy them, and seeking an audience of faceless hordes, regardless of what they think and believe. I want to connect with people, and I think I make that clear in the things I write. And I try to be an open-minded, tolerant, even supportive person for people who aren’t ‘like me.’ But I have boundaries. And I have things that I believe in and stand for that these persistent buggers openly ridicule and oppose, and I don’t really want debate or particularly animosity on my blog. That would stop it from being good for my mental health and self esteem. I just want to express myself without hurting anyone else. I don’t force or even particularly ask people to follow me, and if I follow someone, and they remove me from their list, I’d never re-follow them. I mean…UNDERSTOOD.
I wouldn’t follow someone who clearly had totally different personal values and priorities as me anyway. I’m not saying I want to live inside an echo chamber, but I don’t want to have to defend myself constantly either. If I wanted constant (or even occasional) debate, I’d run for public office.
But those folks I’ve removed keep on coming back. A couple of them have come back again and again for nearly the entire time I’ve been blogging here (dozens of times for over a year).
Maybe they think, because of the way WordPress is set up, it’s just a tech glitch that keeps removing my blog from their ‘following’ list (dozens of times). But I don’t think so. I think they are just men who adhere to the same philosophy as those telemarketers, and especially the same as that guy from college. Because they aren’t being told to keep it up by a higher authority and they aren’t being paid for it.
I’ll just wear her down…eventually she’ll let me stay because she’ll get tired of ‘no.’ She’ll grow weary of repeating, ‘I’m not interested.’
It’s annoying, but I guess relatively harmless. So I guess I’ll let them stay and stop removing them (after dozens of repeats for more than a year) and just make sure to block all their visible interaction with my blog. Maybe that means they won. ????
But is wearing someone down really a victory? Is ignoring a consistent message that a person doesn’t want your company or viewpoint or association really a win? I guess some people consider it one, but I don’t. I think it’s a gross consent violation.
And I think it’s pretty fucking weak. I sure as hell don’t want to be around or associate or even claim association with people who don’t want to associate with or be around me. I respect an, ‘I’m not interested,’ the first time I hear it. Why would I want to chase someone who doesn’t want me around? ??????
And I also would never simply follow or associate with someone to mock them or engage in constant, in-bad-faith debate with them. Which are the only reasons I can see for someone whose views so clearly and vehemently oppose mine to want to read what I have to say so much that they repeatedly ‘call me back’ after so many, ‘I’m not interesteds.’ They WANT to ramp up my anxiety, or ruin my day, or make fun of me, or violate my consent. They’re actually kind of worse than the guy from college, now that I think about it. Because at least he could say his potential joy and pleasure at dating me would get him something real with his irrational and disrespectful persistence. These folks? They’re not really getting shit. ?????
So fine. Stay. I guess you win. Because I’m tired of paying attention to you enough to give you, ‘I’m not interested,’ or even, ‘No. Please stop asking.’
But I’m still not and never will be interested.