Men are my Teachers, oh sorry, I meant Mistakes
Today we start school.
I am not enrolled in an educational institution nor am I a teacher nor do I participate in academic wantings. I keep my diploma above my desk to memorialize my youth.
Here’s what I remember:
School, for a long time, was the only place to go.
We spent most of our time being very confused.
Once in a while, clarity would come when a thoughtful teacher does something stupendous, banking that teacher a spot in the student’s memory for a lifetime.
(This already reminds me a lot of dating but we can just put that likeness aside for now)
I was a bad student.
I liked to read and to be given enough time with my book for imaginative growth, to be left alone in a spot with no influences and no pressures, not for leisure, but for pure thinking and wondering and questioning and joy.
I did not understand most other subjects.
It wasn’t until second grade that I even understood the systemic of School.
A teacher passed out a quiz.
All the children wrote the quiz.
I did not know what to do with the quiz.
I was later yelled at for using my eraser too much, ultimately scratching madly across the page and ruining the paper.
My mother says no one ever told her that I was struggling.
No one ever told me that I was struggling either.
It seems, the entire process of education is based in Struggle because it’s all one competition.
It was called “learning”. It wasn’t learning. It was ego building.
(Again, can we just subsitute the word “learning” for “dating”…)
We became designated egos according to our successes. Meanwhile, failure became more and more of a struggle and, for those of us with successes that were quieter or more creative or seemingly less productive, we were always failing.
If you are a person who failed to develop your ego with the support of substantial praise, you have probably also failed to learn that you are entitled to healthy relationships.
We were not taught healthy relationships or even co-operative socializing in school. The successful kids were not taught to share their successes, they were merely taught to continue competitively being The Best.
No one taught us to behave with civil decency. No one.
In fact, what seemed more important, was that we were respectful of the teachers and the administration or even of the building.
We were not taught, not through practical learning, the nature of co-operation. We were just expected to abide by a set of rules that would ultimately lead us towards a co-operative existence.
Well. Most of us know arithmetic. Most of us know some Steinbeck. Most of us can read a compass rose. Most of us know that Power is owned by the law. Most of us kind of get that if we become parents, we can own some power too.
Absolutely none of us understands how to disengage our egos to look out for one another.
Compassion comes with maturity, necessarily. Empathy comes with pain and failure, necessarily. An education in humanity is based in the accumulation of destructive experiences.
As we age, as we surrender to Who We Have Become, we begin to engage with each other with no rules and our experiences become even more destructive. We fall back on the little bits that we know: adding, adding is always true; reading, that can always happen; computers, of course.
What always falters? Civil decencies. Always.
(So this is it, this is the part where it becomes clear that we’re unable to date because we are unable to admit that we have never learned anything)
You may not live in Canada and you may not know about Ontario’s sex ed curriculum being threatened, as in, we might not have one, and so perhaps you don’t share in the experience of wishing, provocatively, that you could shake every man you meet until their penises charge up inside their own bodies and they feel the pain of unwanted Dick.
I can’t help but start crying at the thought of a worse generation of men.
Let me hear, one more time, from a man with an education in Human Rights, who tells me that of course I have the right to say No to him as he backs away with his hands surrendered before taking three steps closer to kiss me again, despite my No that comes directly before his grabbing of my face, and I push him and he backs up and he tells me he “gets it” all over again. He gets it. Someone taught him that women are human too. He gets it.
Let me hear, one more time, from the guy who works in medical sciences who can reassure me that my body is My Body and only I can make decisions about it before he calls me names for refusing to meet him in person, before he tells me that I shouldn’t even be dating if I can’t even give a good guy a chance, before he lets me know that I have upset him.
Can we hear, one more time, from the educated men of my fucked up generation so that we can finally understand what women need?
It’s true, since leaving school, I have learned most of my education from men.
Two years ago, I left institutional learning and panicked at the thought of being alone.
I like being alone. However, at some point it occurred to me that, without the constant immersive experience of a fishbowl community, I could get bored with myself and end up…what?
What is the problem with that? There is no actual end to my doom fantasy. I would just panic at the horror of being a loser. I judged solitude. I was a loser when I grew up alone in the corner with a book in my hand, why would I, twenty years later, still want to be a loser? Didn’t I learn competitive engagement? Shouldn’t I be better than I was?
No. Since leaving school, I learned that solitude is gorgeous. I learned that from men. Most of you are terrible human beings so how on Earth did I ever think you could make my life better?
Dear Men, Thanks for being consistently shitty. Thanks for the education.
The school year starts today and I am not attending school but I feel the need to construct, for myself, some sort of curriculum of discovery. The things we don’t learn in school: Solitude, quiet, humility, celibacy, and a simplicity, a celebration of Not Knowing.
We don’t know anything.
If you’re interested in learning any of the above things, come back here and read. I’ll make a set of my own rules and I’ll probably rewrite them a bunch but, I’ll filter my daily experiences through the lens of a woman who is learning to forget her education.