The Karate Kid and the Rules of Attraction

So, writing what I write, and studying what I study, I’m often perplexed at the sorts of people I’m attracted to, and the one’s I’m not (and I spend a good deal of time interrogating these desires or lack thereof). Over at Ex-Gay Watch, there’s a post about “enraged ex-gays” who got pissed at Kerry’s blip about Lynne Cheney being “born gay.” I think the ex-gay movement is a load of puritanical, totalitarian crap, so I haven’t bothered ranting about it (really. There’s just no need). But today I found that one of the advocates of “altering behavior” has this to say:

“We all have a choice to do what is best, and with regard to acting on my homosexual feelings and inclinations, I did not choose God’s best for me or for society when I chose to act upon them,” Chambers wrote. “However, I did finally choose to live beyond those feelings and today I am not a homosexual nor am I tempted to be one.”

Notice he doesn’t say “my homosexual feelings and inclinations have gone away!” nor does he say, “I find women irresistably sexually attractive!” He says he’s stopped “acting” on his desires. Which, of course, we can all do.

We can stop eating food, too, and starve ourselves. Doesn’t mean it’s good for us.

Coercing people into relationships with people they aren’t attracted to is grotesque. And it’s horrible to be the poor, dumb “quick fix” woman or man who gets to be in a relationship with somebody who isn’t attracted to them in the least. That’s not fair to you. And sure as hell ain’t fair to them.

Having spent far more time outside of sexual relationships than within them, I’ve had lots of time to interrogate my sexuality. Being in my early 20s is about the right time for that sort of searching. I started to pay more attention to who I was attracted to, and when, and I noticed that I was attracted to certain types of people, and – in particular – certain physical types of men. I was also able to acknowledge the fact that, yes, on occasion, I found myself twitter-paited over boyish girls – I once had to get off the train a stop early because I couldn’t stop staring at a short-haired female cello player who couldn’t have been 20. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s neat when it does, and I’ve learned to owe up to it and say, “Well, that’s human sexuality for you.” And move on. My wandering gaze still falls on boys 98% of the time, and I identify as being hetero (see why I hate all these labels?). The intensity of my attraction for certain boys is one I oftentimes find staggering.

My own personal angst, however, is that I always feel I’m not attracted to the “right” type of boys.

Ah. You’re expecting to hear that I like bad boys, right? Big, brutish, dangerous men with tattoos and prison records?

Uh. No.

My father’s biggest grumble about my choices was this: “When are you going to bring home a Real Man?”

My boss is a former football player – 6ft tall, 230lbs – and attractive in a corn-fed, Midwestern football player way. He’s funny, nice, simple, polite, and easy going. He makes oodles of money, isn’t yet 35, and owns three houses. And I sat at lunch with him the other day and pondered for the dozenth time, “Why aren’t I attracted to this guy?”

I ask myself this question a lot, because Blaine’s the sort of guy I could see my dad gleefully fawning over.

But the guy just doesn’t do it for me. In the least.

What are these “non” men that my wandering gaze locks onto, these strange “non” men who I long to take home and tumble into bed?

Oh, they’re the scrawny dorks.

The tall and skinny guys, or the short and stocky guys. The nerdy little guys with the PhDs and glasses. All those guys who got beat up in highschool. Little guys who read books. I’m even quite partial to men several years younger than me.

Perish the thought.

I picked up The Karate Kid last night, feeling some 80s nostalgia, and thought, “Hot damn, I would have loved to date that kid when I was 16! Why isn’t it totally obvious to him that Elizabeth Shue is totally hot on him?”

And I realized just how crappy Hollywood movies have become with their portrayal of plastic people who all look the same. Early on in the movie I caught myself thinking in an offhand way, “Man, Elizabeth Shue is looking kinda chunky, and that kid’s a total cutie, but should he really be *so* skinny for this movie? I mean, he *is* the male lead.”

I jerked myself out of this reverie and realized what I was doing. 90s beauty standards on an 80s movie – Elizabeth Shue isn’t bigger than a size 6, and Ralph is totally the guy I was crazy about in high school and was terrified to approach because I always outweighed him by 40 or 50lbs. What 90s movie blockbuster pairs a wimpy-looking boy hero with a normal-weight female lead?

I mean, besides Titanic.

Come to think of it, Titanic exploded at the box office. But I digress. That rant is for another day.

Instead, what I’m getting fed from the media are the sorts of boys I’m *supposed* to find attractive. Like Russell Crow and Ben Affleck (yuck and double yuck). Get me Christian Bale and Orlando.

Actually. No. Stop there. Before I get carried away.

Those boys don’t have grad degrees. I wonder what they read? Does Bale wear glasses? I know they’ve got acting passion, but how big are their home libraries? (books, not movies)

These are very important attraction coupons.

Oh. But. Well. There’s still that image problem. The image problem being the Sex in the City monstrous dimorphism of the sexes thing.

I definately outweigh Orlando, and Bale’s gotten emaciated to the point where I refuse to watch his concentration-camp chic in The Machinist.

Women are small and thin. Men are tall, butch (or fem gay), and broad-shouldered. Very rarely will you catch a male/female of the same height (and rare-to-never will she be taller than him, unless it’s played for comedy), and never-ever-ever will you see a woman paired with a man she outweighs. Ever.

In real life, however…

Being a media whore who’s very plugged into media images via movies and internet (not a big tv fan, as I glut out on it pretty easily), I’m well aware of the sorts of men I should be attracted to. And after a lot of stupid first dates and some awful second and third dates, I’ve also come to the conclusion that I’m not attracted to those sorts of men.

Lucky for me, nobody’s interpreted a Bible passage that says I can only be attracted to big butch guys who manage their lives around football.

Very lucky for me indeed.

Granted, they’ve found one that says I should be my husband’s property.

But again, I digress.

I certainly could have sex with someone I wasn’t really attracted to. I could hop into bed with him. I could have kids with him. I might even have affection for him. Sure, sex would always be a chore. Sure, I’d never get that gut-warming physical spike of desire, let alone the insatiable I MUST HAVE YOU NOW!! kind when I was with him. And sure, I would always be reaching out toward other people, perpetually thwarted, with no hope for release.

But hey, it’d look good on TV right? I’d drop down to 130lbs and turn into an obsessive-compulsive, he’d go to the gym to bulk up every day, and we’d eat raw eggs. I’d dress in spangly dresses and high heels and he’d wear an Armani suit and keep his hair short, and we’d pose for pictures, and everybody at dinner parties would sigh over us and our visual sexual perfection. You could put a picture of us on billboards and announce to all those struggling men and women out there, “You too can find the person our society most deems fit for you to be paired with!”

We could even start a series of workshops teaching women and men how to be attracted to properly proportioned partners. Oops. Wait. We already do that. There are thousands of self-help books about just that. And blah blah blah, like forming this mystical perfect couples for family photos is the be-all and end-all of existence. We’d continue to teach women to be smaller, and stigmatize them if they’re not, and we’d continue to teach men to be bigger and angrier and more “dominant” (read: abusive/controlling). Because we all have to fit into our little crappy boxes.

Not attracted to the person everyone else thinks you should be?

Too bad for you. You get to be celibate for the rest of your life.

I expect my government to stay out of *my* bedroom when there are consenting adults involved. And they should stay out of everybody else’s.

Tomorrow, they’re going to be choosing your partners for you.

And that’s not the country I signed up for.

The Latest

Future Artifacts

Brutal. Devastating. Dangerous. Join an investigation into a cruel and heartless leader … crawl through filth and mud to escape biological warfare … team up with time-traveling soldiers faced with potentially life-altering instructions. Kameron Hurley, award-winning author and expert in the future of war and resistance movements, has created eighteen exhilarating tales giving glimpses into […]

Support Kameron

If you’ve read and enjoyed my work for free – whether that’s the musings here on the blog, guest posts elsewhere, or through various free fiction sites, it’s now easier than ever to donate to support this work, either with a one-time contribution via PayPal, or via a monthly Patreon contribution:

Scroll to Top