I have this very strong feeling that each person must “tell his own story,” and that others around him should honor that. For instance, if a friend tells me “I really like that little Jewish girl down the street,” or “I sure don’t like that lemon strawberry cake that Aunt Nita makes. I wish I could tell her but I don’t want to hurt her feelings,” in each case that’s HIS story, and not mine. If he wants to tell his story to others, he will, but it’s not my place to spread around that story. I might WANT to – maybe go to Aunt Nita and say “Nita, I’m not sure Bobby likes that cake. He seems to choke it down each time, but I don’t think he likes it.” Or tell the Jewish man down the street, “Ha! Bobby Summers told me he wants to bang your daughter!”
Or I might tell people “Hey, did you know Bobby Summers has an IQ of 80? I saw the test scores on the teacher’s desk! I thought that guy was just quiet, but it’s because he’s so stupid he can’t keep up with the conversation!”
Or I might whisper “Bobby Summers told me he’s gay! Did you know that? I can’t believe it! Oh, man, wait’ll I tell the others!”
In every case, what I say will change the relationship between Bobby and others – not because of something Bobby might want, but just as a side effect of something >>I<< have done. In each case, I’ve taken the choice out of his hands by telling HIS story. I’ve stolen away some of his freedom.
This is not about saying good things or bad things about people, it’s about who has the right to tell the good things or bad things.
In the cases above, it’s better for me to keep my mouth shut. I might tell people “I like that Bobby Summers. He’s a damned hard worker and a true friend.” Or “Seems to me Bobby Summers can drive a car better than anybody I ever met. I think he should be a professional driver!” Or “That lame-ass bastard Summers was late to work today, forcing me to work overtime.” That’s me sharing stuff that includes Bobby, but I’m telling MY story, a part in which Bobby plays a role.
But in all the personal stuff, the things in which Bobby should be free to make his own choices, it’s better to let Bobby tell the thing, or not tell it, and have each situation and relationship go on as HE chooses for it to go on.
Tell YOUR story. Let others tell THEIR story.
The Tribes of Man and Woman
Speculation: In every time and place, there’s a Guy Culture and a Gal Culture, with different mandates in each. Guys have some say over Guy Culture, women have some say over Gal Culture, but ordinarily neither has any say over the other.
For a girl to be fully accepted in Gal Culture, she has to do and say and think the Gal things. For a boy to be fully accepted in Guy Culture, he has to do and say and think the Guy things. There’s an intersection culture in which both boys and girls fit, but there are also these distinct side cultures.
I suspect there’s a certain evolutionary necessity that creates and maintains these two cultures, that being a part of Guy Culture is a vital part of a boy’s growing up to be a man, and ditto for Gal Culture and girls.
The Internet flattens things out gender-culturally, so that jokes that might usually be told exclusively in Guy company, or thoughts that might formerly be expressed exclusively in Gal surroundings, are now – if they are shared online, that is – opened out in front of everybody. Which brings some interesting pressures to bear on both.
As of now, the side cultures haven’t disappeared. For instance, there are jokes and thoughts and observations I tell only my close male friends – things I deliberately do NOT say online – and I know there are things women say to each other that men don’t get to hear.
But it would be cool to jump ahead a thousand years or so and see what the two cultures look like, or even if they’ve survived, to see what social or personal pressures the situation brings to men and women of the time.