This is our truth, tell us yours
A funny thing happened the other day.
My fellow blogger and I were walking through a city centre when we both spotted someone who had an astonishing degree of sexual charisma. Given our preferences this isn’t as unusual as it might otherwise be.
What was interesting when we talked about our reactions was the degree to which we both identified the self-awareness of the object of our desires as being part of the attraction. There was a theatricality about their garb, and demeanour, that was genuinely eye catching. We both talked about how some people are more aware of the gaze of others, and welcome it more.
Jem’s blog about Eliot Rodger today moved us both to talk about the degree to which attractiveness, the ability to provoke desire, is a psychological construct, a reflection of the state of mind of the individual. We were agreed that the root of this state of mind is confidence, and an awareness of social mores and customs.
Or, to put it another way, it pays to be in with the in crowd.
The problem with that, of course, is that it’s an exclusive model of behaviour. If you’re not in the in crowd, you’re out. We also talked about the possibility that individuals might choose to exclude themselves, or to behave in ways that self-exclude. Sometimes, we don’t fit in because we choose not to. Stigmatizing people who do not fit in as if they must be less able, or unwell, is to deny the possibility that that’s just how they see the world.
In my work I routinely encounter people who behave in self-defeating ways. Men with eating disorders and obesity related disorders were, at one stage, a specialist area of interest of mine. You don’t need to spend much time working on smoking cessation or alcohol problems to know that some individuals want to give up damaging behaviours, but fail. You don’t need to be a psychologist to know that some of those people react angrily to their own failures.
It’s tempting to medicalize the behaviour of Eliot Rodger, to look for answers in this syndrome or that. It’s also tempting to disempower individuals, to deny them agency and to make them victims of conditions we define. We simply do not know, and may never know unless Eliot Rodger decides to openly discuss his condition and his world view.