Sunday, August 28, 2011

On being introduced.

http://www.offthemarkcartoons.com/cartoons/2004-10-08.gif

I don't like being introduced to other people with adjectives, unless the description is something relevant to the person I'm being introduced to, which would then help to provide a topic for small talk. For example,
'This is Sya, she's from RJ.' 
Fine if I'm meeting someone who's an alumni. Not fine if not.
'She's a feminist.'
Awesome if I'm meeting a feminist academic or who does women-related work. Not awesome if male, misogynist, or feminist-hating.
'She's a dancer.'
Great if I'm meeting someone who does something related to performing arts. Not great if clueless about dance or has a fetish for flexible people.

Why does this make me uncomfortable? It took me a long time to figure it out, but it's because I realise that my identity, activities or experience have been appropriated against my will to act as a boost for the image of the person introducing me.

A guy I was dating spoke often about a good friend who lived in a neighbouring country, and she was someone he used to date. Since I had a genuine interest in his life and that blossoming relationship (and I was visiting a friend in the same town), I contacted her and made plans to meet up (bringing along two friends for backup, haha.).

It was a party of six, and I was introduced to her two friends like thus:
"This is the current girlfriend of my ex-boyfriend, who's now one of my best friends."
I was amazed - why did she say that? It became clearer when her two friends responded with:
"Oh, you know so many people - you're so cool!"
"Only you can make a party like this work!"
Don't get me wrong, it would have been okay to have simply been introduced as a new friend (or friend of a best friend, that could have worked too!), because I had never met her before. But the only thing she knew about me (my relationship status) had been used against my will as a theatrical prop to demonstrate uncommon open-mindedness and fun-loving personality.

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