The younger version of me has officially left the building

Posted on 31.10.2014

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I realized something the other night: I’ve officially grown the eff up.

It appears that my transformation is now complete: I no longer want or require validation/attention from men.

not exactly a 'sexy' outfit, IMO

not exactly a ‘sexy’ outfit, IMO

We had the company Halloween Party the other night. In a school with only 5 regular female instructors, I was the only one to go to the party after work. Me and about 7 or 8 of my male colleagues. As you know, I’ve lost quite a bit of weight, so I decided that this year, before I hit my mid-30’s, I wanted to take advantage of FINALLY not feeling fat for once and wear a tight costume. So I got an amazingly accurate Anne Hathaway ‘Catwoman’ suit. Not exactly revealing, as it zipped all the way up to my neck. But skin-tight. It was excellent. I may never feel so confident in an outfit like that again.

I kind of wasn’t thinking about it in the way I might have when I was 21. I don’t necessarily find myself attractive lately, and figured I’m just an almost-too-old woman wearing a cool costume. I was mistaken.

I heard from another coworker later that apparently, most of the guys had been talking about my outfit since they found out what it was going to be. I heard none of it. A few followed my travails with trying to get it delivered on time with a lot of interest. I thought my coworkers were just interested in my life.

It appears they were interested in seeing as much as they could of the female form, instead. The FIRST comment I got from one of my coworkers when I got back in from changing was that I had a visible panty line. Thanks for staring at my ass, Mr. Coworker. I responded that I wasn’t there to impress anyone, and I couldn’t see it, so I wasn’t concerned. Not my problem.

What followed was a few hours of drinking, mixing with students, and getting a few obnoxious, glazed, lazy-eyed stares from my male counterparts. 2 or 3 of the male students who attended the party thought it was ok to say ‘that’s a sexy outfit’ as their first line of conversation with me. With them, I ‘taught’ that you can’t say that to a lady, or someone you don’t know, and that it’s better to say ‘that’s a great costume’. But what could I say to my colleagues? I spent most of my time with my ass facing a wall. Stare at me to my face, please.

It was around then that I thought about me at 19, or 21. Or maybe even 25, when I was in a bad relationship and starved for sex. THAT me would have rolled around on the floor, reveling in the attention, and returned all of the comments and stares with flirtatious looks and remarks. The 32-year old me met all of this with eye rolling disdain.

I won’t lie that living in Japan has probably made me even MORE of a feminist than I already was, and that I’ve probably met a few too many older, married men who think it’s perfectly acceptable to objectify me and their 20-year old girlfriends while sitting in my booth for a lesson. That being said, I don’t think my reaction to the looks and comments (some were probably actually well-meaning compliments that I was just not ready to hear) had anything to do with my feminist beliefs and more to do with me just NOT WANTING ATTENTION from guys, for that reason, anymore.

Especially not from my coworkers. I’ve had such a love-hate relationship with that office, and the belief I’ve come to as of late is that while my boyfriend may have TONS of excellent coworkers-cum-new friends at his office, I don’t really want to spend that much time with some of mine outside of the office. While there may be a few that I like and enjoy getting lunch with, the rest aren’t that exciting to me. Also, there’s a different dynamic when you’re one of just a few women in a male-dominated office. Too much testosterone flying around makes me just want to punch every one of them in the balls. I thought at first that we could all be friends and I might be able to be one of the guys, but apparently THAT Gina is also long, long gone.

I went through an odd phase when I got to Germany in my late-20’s where I realized that the men and guys around me weren’t giving me a second look. I thought it meant I was already too old, no longer attractive, etc. I dealt with it and told myself that even if they weren’t staring, did I want the attention, anyway? I was ok with it, being older, not being the hot girl on the street. Street harassment is an absolute norm for women in Baltimore, and I think I got really used to all of that unwanted attention.

It turned out that German men are just exceedingly shy, and you might never notice if they actually WERE checking you out, even though 0n the other hand, almost ALL Germans seem to have a staring problem.

I think Germany was the start of my ‘not wanting attention’, even though as soon as my current boyfriend came along, I wanted all of it. From him. And I still do. That won’t change. But the ‘wanting to be the most desirable girl in the room’ feeling certainly has left the building. And I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing.

It was an interesting experience, to have SO MUCH attention, and not want any of it. I always go through these times where I think ‘god I’m SUCH a teenager’ while buying a TON of  Sailor Moon mangas or watching cartoons, and then I get in a room with *actual* young people and think ‘nope, DEFINITELY an adult now’. I think it was like that, but with getting actual attention. I still think I’m an extrovert, but maybe that’s changed, too, and I just didn’t notice.

I definitely feel like the ‘office cat’ around the office: keep to myself, talk to who is nearest, and seek out the others if I actually need them. Otherwise, no contact. Maybe I AM getting introverted. Or maybe I just don’t want that kind of attention anymore. It would be nice to be treated like an equal rather than a piece of meat. Who wouldn’t want that?

I wonder if, when I hit my 40’s, I might feel differently and go looking for attention. I guess we’ll see?

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Posted in: life