I’ve explored this one before. But today (actually yesterday, now) it seemed to be out and about, doing its utmost to snare me in its seductive coils. What that?
Why, the “good girl” trope, of course.
Last time, if I remember this right, I ended up chatting with a friend whose dyed-in-the-deep-dyed wool feminist creds are pretty impeccable. Yet, she revealed, SHE suffered from it. In her case, an upbringing and socialisation thing. In mine?
Anyhow, the “good girl” thing is an urge, too easily transformed to doormat status and exploitation, to please. It hit me the very first time I got patronised by a bloke: and it hit me again today in slightly different form on my taxi ride back to the station.
Big hulking brute of a taxi driver. Shiny pate, reminiscent (I know, I know its an unfair association) of the BNP hair cut: a couple of grunted exchanges as he accompanied me from reception to his cab. I’m not, I thought, going to enjoy this. But I was wrong.
Under way, he proved quite chatty. Not a bad conversationalist at all. And he seemed to respond positively to my own input. Which I was listening to, eaves-dropping on, third party, almost, to my own conversation. I was playing feed to him: it’s a role I’ve handled happily on stage. I do it from time to time in professional conversations: but I’d never quite noticed myself doing it person to person.
Certainly never with a bloke. It astounded me, just keeping tabs on what I was doing: I was using the conversation, weaving it, in ways that gave him space to feel good about himself – being interested, f’rinstance – in the fact he played rugby – and while I really couldn’t care less about his interest in playhing with other beefy men and strange shaped balls, I liked the fact of making him feel nice.
Its not entirely new: its really an extension of something I’ve always done – just more concentrated. Being complicated, I ended up wondering if this was a sort of trap that women set for themselves bigging up the idea of being the good girl…so that in the end, the mere act of putting US second becomes a source of positive feedback.
Back in London, more weirdness. Negotiating the narrows of Edgware Rd tube, I bump with a plump and middle-aged bloke. He steadies me, with a slightly over-familiar hand: pauses just a second too long, hand resting on my back. He flashes a full-on smile and carries on his way.
This “sort of thing” keeps happening. I am still trying to deconstruct it, what it is, what it signifies, what my reaction is or should be. I haven’t quite managed yet.