Thomas Wictor

One size never fits all

One size never fits all

Every time I turn around, someone is telling me I should adopt their mindset. I don’t know what it is about public exposure, but it immediately makes people start lecturing others on what to think.

Is it the need to control? I never understood that particular urge. My father was so controlling that he’d stick his nose into whatever anybody was doing and ask the question that became like nails on a chalkboard.

“Mind if I make a suggestion?”

I was never able to say, “Did I ask for a suggestion?” but Tim finally told him three or four times, “Why, yes. I do mind. I mind a lot!” And Dad stopped butting in on Tim’s projects. I never opposed Dad’s unsolicited attempts to chart the course of events that had nothing to do with him. Why? Because I felt sorry for him. A son should never feel pity for his father. I would rather have continued to fear him.

The funny thing about people who try to tell you how to think or what to do is that they always—always—unwittingly admit that their advice is worthless. One size never fits all. Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert cartoons, wrote a piece on how to be a success. In it he negated his entire essay.

Beware of advice about successful people and their methods. For starters, no two situations are alike… But the most dangerous case of all is when successful people directly give advice.

All right, Scott. Then I won’t bother even thinking about what you’re saying. Good thing too, because it’s nonsense.

So forget about passion. And while you’re at it, forget about goals, too.

I’m glad you advised me to not listen to you, Scott. I’ve been passionate about writing all my life, and I’ve set goals for myself. See, your approach didn’t apply to me. I’m sure it doesn’t apply to millions.

It’s not enough that people want to advise you on how to live; they also want to control how you look. The Daily Mail had an article that asked “Is wearing makeup a ‘betrayal’?” My question is, “A betrayal of whom?” Whose face is it?

A set of before and after photos that show the dramatic difference between a woman with and without make-up have[sic] sparked an internet debate about cosmetics… The stark difference between the images has sparked a debate on Reddit, with some internet users labeling make-up in general a ‘betrayal’ because it hides a woman’s true self.

Really? So now perfect strangers get to determine who your true self is? Also, where is it written that we have to expose our true selves at all times? Why can’t a woman choose to hide if she wants? Why can’t she put on a costume and have a little fun? If you don’t like makeup on women, don’t go after women who wear makeup.

Besides, the photos are bogus. The makeup-free image was taken using a wide-angle lens to make the woman’s nose look bigger and her face rounder. And the fully made-up image appears to have been digitally airbrushed.

How about telling someone that they have to vote a certain way based on their skin color? The actress Stacey Dash was essentially excommunicated because she endorsed Mitt Romney.

Is there anything more racist than telling someone that because their skin is a certain hue, they’re not allowed to partake in certain activities? That’s another thing about those who demand that we all think as they do: They always become that which they claim to be fighting. The people who savaged Stacey Dash are virulent racists on the level of the Ku Klux Klan.

I recently read a piece by a deeply insane woman who posts under the name “Witchwind.” It taught me new Orwellian terms, such as “PIV” (penis in vagina) and “radfem” (radical feminist). Titled “PIV is always rape, ok?” the piece is the most stellar example of misogyny I’ve ever read.

The fact we may not immediately feel raped doesn’t mean it’s not rape, objectively speaking…

Lastly, from a structural point of view, as a class oppressed by men, we are not in any position of freedom to negotiate what men do to us collectively and individually within the heterocage. Men, by whom we are possessed, colonised and held captive, are the sole agents and organisers of PIV…

Violence is objective and its definition doesn’t depend on a person’s feelings, even if she is the victim. Victims may not be aware of the violence, and this is often the case for women…

There are no privileged women in patriarchy in terms of sexual oppression, only some women who have escaped the worst forms of male genocide, but those women may be from any class, and that is not privilege but luck. Money has never protected women from men’s violence, only staying away from men has.

What the writer is saying is that all women who enjoy sex with men are imbeciles who don’t even know they’re being raped. The piece infantilizes women to a degree I’d never seen before. A Wahabbist imam couldn’t couldn’t do better than Witchwind in terms of presenting women as childlike dollies incapable of thinking for themselves.

And how do men colonize women? To colonize means to send people to live in an area. Are there really men who want to live inside women? How many male colonists can the average woman accommodate? Or did I misunderstand? Did she mean men turn women into colons? Wouldn’t that mean we’d have to put the women inside us, then?

In his piece “There is no One,” blogger and author Rollo Tomassi propounds a bit of pedagogy that directly comments on my own life.

There is no ONE. This is the soulmate myth. There are some good Ones and some bad Ones, but there is no ONE

This is what trips people up about the soul-mate myth, it is this fantasy that we all at least in some way share an idealization of – that there is ONE perfect mate for each of us, and as soon as the planets align and fate takes it’s[sic] course we’ll know that we’re ‘intended’ for each other.

What’s the evidence for this statement? It’s just a declaration, no different than the ones Witchwind and all other pedagogues make. The only thing I can conclude is that Tomassi never experienced what I did.

The second I saw her, I fell instantly in love. Kaboom. I saw her, and I said to myself, “Oh. There you are. I’ve been looking all over for you. Where the hell have you been?” It was as though we’d known each other many, many times before and had been waiting to reconnect again in this life. There was an instant recognition; I even recognized her scent, which was all her own because I knew she never wore perfume. As soon as I saw her, I remembered what her body felt like. She had the most amazing flared-out hips, and as I looked her over in her faded jeans, I knew exactly what it was like to sit on the edge of a chair as she stood in front of me, leaning into me, her arms around my shoulders, my arms around her pelvis and my cheek resting against the warmth of her stomach. This was a memory, not a fantasy. As I was being introduced to her, the nerves in my face and forearms began tingling as they recalled what it felt like to touch her. It was as if I were waking up.

Ghosts and Ballyhoo, page 46

Before I met Carmen, nothing like that had ever happened. After we broke up, nothing like that ever happened. I had several relationships bracketing my time with her. They all failed for the same reason: I’m so damaged that I’m nonviable. Yet I experienced three years of perfect happiness with this person.

The first eighteen months with Carmen were ghastly. There was drinking, fighting, betrayal, backsliding, and a lot of pain. I stuck around because I felt in my bones that I was supposed to be with her. To me, the three years of NORMALITY are prima facie evidence that I’m right. Every bit of my damage—the impairment that makes relationships infeasible—was absent for at least 1100 days straight.

I can’t discuss why the relationship failed, because that would violate the agreement I made with Carmen to never write about her life before or after we were together. But I don’t have to discuss it. Like all people who tell you what to think, Tomassi contradicts himself and renders his opinions completely without value.

The real truth is that there is no simple answer to this, because each man’s conditions are unique to him.

Each person’s conditions are unique to him or her. That’s why nobody has the answer. You have to find your own answer, like I did. Don’t be afraid of the search, and don’t listen to anybody who tells you how to think or act. They’re always wrong, as they always reveal without even knowing it.


Thomas Wictor at age twelve in Tyler, Texas, 1974. Photo by Tim Wictor.