I have an essay distinguishing between persuasion and manipulation rollicking around in my head, but I may save it for the Pagan Values Blogject next month. In the meantime, however, I have something related in mind that comes back to my “Biologically Impossible” rant regarding tastes in perfume from last week.
We all have variations in biochemistry. If genetics and evolution work properly in a global context, then we will come out designed with certain aversions and tastes. That means that when it comes to matters of preference in touch, taste, sight (color preference) and sound you are, to some extent, unable to help what you like. While educating yourself to appreciate certain things (sound, in Classical music, for instance) for the most part your tastes on a physical level only change if your biochemistry changes. Thus why people on certain anti-depressants suddenly find Britney Spears music pleasant and meaningful. ((Every time I’ve heard a cover, I have to admit the music sounds good to me, it’s the package it’s delivered in I dislike.
This means that when it comes to matters of biological preference such as, say, taste, trying to persuade someone to like what you like is the move of a self-centered asshat.
My mother was persistent in ignoring that biology was not on her side when it came to pushing personal tastes. In one of the few cases where she deserves it, my sister has my absolute empathy for all the times she was forced to eat chili. I like chili. My sister hated it – to a mushroom level.
Mushrooms make me gag. It doesn’t matter if it’s a fresh morel or one of those portobello steaks, a bitter taste fills up my mouth and my throat closes up to try to prevent me from ingesting the fungal horror. I have had this reaction since a small child, and it has never changed. I’m sure for those with the right body chemistry, truffles offer an untold delight. To my body, they represent unprocessed dirt that doesn’t belong there.
During some summer trip to my grandparents’, my mother and sister (a pairing that leads to some sort of abuse of my person) ordered some fried mushrooms from a vegetable stand. For reasons that could only have been about showing me that they had power and I had none, they ganged up on me and forced me to eat some of the mushrooms.
My throat closed off right away, my head swam…it was terrible. When the gagging became enough that passerby might have intervened and sent a parental unit to jail, they finally backed off. My mother smugly announced, “Oh, you’ll like them someday.”
Nope. I still gag.
Other things that family members and peripheral acquaintances have been convinced I’ll come around to that I haven’t include:
- My sister being convinced I would like heavy metal music, just like she does (I can tolerate it, but no, I never will enjoy it.) She, along with my maternal grandmother, were quite convinced I would eventually make all of my sister’s life choices. I have not, and I am permanently insulted that they thought so little of my basic capacity to think for myself. I’m also annoyed that they thought our lives bore any similarity – in my mind, it’s just as squick inducing as the “interchangeable women” sister sex fetish. We’re supposed to be different if evolution did its job.
- The jackass an old roommate dated who was convinced “falling in love” triggered a nesting instinct in ALL women that made them abandon all ambition in favor of home and procreation. I’ve fallen in love a few times since then, and I have yet to find myself naming imaginary babies or taking up needlepoint. I also don’t think babies are particularly cute. Yours are not an exception.
- Various attempts to force me to go along with thong-showing pants – it might be fetishized by some, but to me it doesn’t look or feel sexy.
- Country western music. I can handle some of the stuff out of Memphis, and I actually like rockabilly. But anything that memorializes pick-up trucks, blind patriotism or male entitlement/fake feminism just irritates me – plus, the music is really screechy and physically irritates me.
- RPG games. I recently found a piece I wrote talking about a woman who was determined I should go to one because it was a “man Mall of America.” I was recently divorced at the time, and she was one of those idiots who was convinced “single” after a divorce was some condition to correct. While certainly not true of most female gamers I know now, the batch I met in Wisconsin were of the self-lobotomized female sort: lots of self-hate and subservience to men who felt they were owed it. These same men did not have the basic courtesy to take showers before going out in public, and they were nonplussed at my complete disinterest in their imaginary exploits. What can I say? I don’t hate myself and my sense of smell is hypersensitive.
- Bolero jackets; I find them vaguely insulting
- Being inebriated for the sole purpose of being drunk
- And of course, mushrooms, artichokes, beets, gravy of any kind, turkey stuffing, pasta and potato salads, jello of any kind
On every single thing I listed, there is someone out there who digs exactly that, wants exactly that, resonates with exactly that.
More power to ’em – as long as I’m not expected to do the same.
All of this stuff is, on some level, part of my biological makeup. Some is psychological. None of it is the kind of thing where persuasion and argument apply – and yet all too often, someone tries to argue with me because “cherry flavor is awesome!” when to me it tastes of cough syrup.
If you’re feeling defensive over this, I want to say this: there’s a difference between setting a boundary and making an attack. I’m setting a boundary. You are not losing anything because I hate mushrooms, heavy metal, and chauvinists.
Or, to reframe it another way: rock on! More mushrooms for you!