Sunday, February 3, 2013

Unreciprocated Attraction

Mutual attraction is great. Everyone longs to find someone they're attracted to, who is also attracted to them. That's when sparks fly, and when love blooms. But most attraction that occurs in the natural world is not reciprocated - that's partly what makes mutual attraction so magical, because it's rare. But when I look at the way people treat displays of one-sided attraction, it seems as if they assume all attraction has to be mutual, or that if it's not, it is a vile thing.

I just have this picture in my head of some attractive young woman getting 'hit on' by some dirty old man. She's perfectly within her rights to say "I'm not interested", and the man has no right to harass her, but there are two ways of looking at that one-sided attraction. The young woman can either say, "thank you, I'm flattered that you think I'm attractive, but I'm not interested," or she can say - which I have the feeling is far more common - "I'm not creep."

And I think this attitude extends to other things. On a more general scale, I think people do get kinda creeped out when somebody they're not attracted to expresses an attraction to them. And why else would this be, other than because they are viewing that attraction from the perspective of reciprocity? "This guy's attracted to me, but he's gross, I'm not attracted to him, so ew, the very thought of having sex with him turns my stomach." But I wish we didn't have to make this assumption on the reciprocity of attraction, because it hinders the ability of admirers of beauty to appreciate nature's bounty.

What I mean is, especially in art and, yes, also pornography, where you have the element of modeling, a person is displaying their physical beauty - and, yes, sometimes erotic beauty, particularly in pornography - for people they have no expectation of being attracted to. A model who poses for Playboy would be deluded if she thought she was only doing it because the only people who would see her on that cover would be people she's going to be attracted to. I mean, that thought is so ridiculous because it doesn't even factor into the reason why people model.

Now, models and those in the industry generally understand this, I would hope. Although people who criticize the industry may not, making remarks about why someone would want to model naked (or whatever) so any old stranger can ogle her. But again, that's missing the point. Attraction needn't be mutual to be meaningful. If a person is beautiful, then what's wrong with allowing people she's not attracted to to appreciate that beauty, in a one-sided fashion? And that also applies to erotic beauty. In fact, the model can also get something out of it - but it's not mutual attraction, it's a feeling that she's offering her beauty to the world instead of hording it and revealing it only to privileged individuals in private.

In my experience as an erotic model, it was awkward at first getting compliments not just from persons I was not attracted to, but persons of a sex I was not attracted to. Namely, getting compliments from men when I'm not gay. It's something I had to get used to, but never did I presume that if a gay man appreciated my beauty, that it had to be accompanied by any kind of reciprocation on my part whatsoever. It doesn't matter who appreciates my erotic beauty, because it's a one-sided attraction.

And I think that attitude could be used by many, even those who are not erotic models - and particularly the attractive - to treat those who appreciate their beauty (erotic or otherwise). If somebody is attracted to you, treat it as a compliment, even if the attraction is not mutual. You don't have any obligation to reciprocate, however you have no reason to get creeped out either. If I can get used to gay men hitting on me, then surely young women the world over can deal with dirty old men hitting on them.

And meanwhile, those who appreciate the beauty of others would do well to heed this advice, too. Just because you're attracted to someone doesn't mean they are obligated to reciprocate in any way. It's ridiculous that I even need to say it, but in this day of talk about rape culture and victim-blaming, where some people would suggest that if you think a girl's hot, then she owes you sex - no. If a girl's hot, you can absolutely appreciate her hotness, but it's still her decision whether or not she wants to have sex, and with whom. Attraction is not intrinsically mutual.

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