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how and why to be ladylike (for women with autism)
contains dune quotes as promised
i feel a little embarrassed writing this bc i think people are going to judge my behavior more after i post it. as well they should honestly. also, you should not listen to me, i have no authority. but please, have mercy on me a sinner, if i were naturally good at this i wouldn't be able to talk about it explicitly. also also there is no way to express all this without being a little more cynical-sounding than i actually feel. but anyway here it is like i said
so. imagine you’re a young woman. (apparently everyone likes to do that.) you are starting to possess some degree of sexual attraction, which impacts others around you. also you live in a social world & you want things from other people. at the same time you are ambivalent about your powers of sexual attraction, which sometimes cause people to behave threateningly or at least unpleasantly towards you, and definitely put you in a lot of awkward situations you didnt ask for. & also bc you're being judged & it’s hard to get a break. what to do?
one thing you can do is totally ignore your attractiveness and disavow it, while maybe continuing to get some goodies as a result of people being attracted to you, & simply not notice that the reason this is happening is because they’re attracted to you. this is a great strategy as far as avoiding responsibility goes. however it has its downsides because it puts a lot of things outside of your control. relationships will blow up in your face sometimes and you just won’t be able to predict it.
another option is to intentionally be less attractive than you could/naturally would be. you will get less goodies this way but also have to deal with people less. those are the upsides and downsides. this strategy actually combines great with the previous strategy.
but honestly, you don’t really want to do either of those things, because it gives you less power in the world.
the third, very obvious option is to be overtly sexy. this is a very appealing strategy especially to young girls who maybe had trouble making friends and aren’t used to getting any attention from other people at all. all of the sudden people will pay more attention to you, do you favors, like you more than they did before, want to be in your good graces. your mom will warn you against this one but frankly you and your mom don't really understand each other very well. she won't be able to explain this in a way that’s understandable for you, and you don’t have the skills to parse what she is saying. plus she is likely to say much more about how this strategy is bad for you, which isn’t true (yet), and less about how it’s annoying for other people around you and they will resent you for it.
another reason why you, as a woman with autism, might choose “overtly sexy” is that you are likely to have more sexual feelings than most women will openly cop to, you might feel like a freak or ashamed, then at some point realize that actually you’re pretty normal, and you will be so annoyed at the time you wasted feeling ashamed of being normal, and vow to be authentic about your sexuality. well think for two seconds about why all women might choose to do that. but that’s kind of neither here nor there and im not even sure this paragraph belongs here
but, over time, you will notice that this is a high variance strategy. a lot of people will resent you for it, loudly. women will be wary of you. men will often go from liking you extremely to shit talking you. and it will feel unfair and maybe scary.
being overtly sexy hijacks people’s attention on a level that they don’t have much control over–and the overt hate/dislike that they respond with is an attempt to wrest back some control over their responses. it’s simple epistemic hygiene. and the girls don’t like it bc they feel competed with and defected against and they feel it’s unfair and unpleasant. when they feel unfairly competed against sexually, they are going to respond by upping the social competition, and it will suck for ppl like us because we have already established we are not good at that
another reason that men might kind of split on you, really liking you at first and then getting mad at you, is that they feel screwed over. they were being nice to you because you seemed sexually available to them, you weren’t, they feel cheated and also dumb. that’s their problem–except, you’re doing all this in the first place as a social strategy, and when the social strategy doesn’t work, that’s your problem. morally they’re probably in the wrong here for expecting something you never said you would give them but we have to talk strategically here
also, you’re going to get old & you will not be as attractive to people when that happens. and it will be painful and suck a lot when the stuff you’re used to working, doesn’t work, and you aren’t sure what else to do
so what are your other options besides disavowing your sexual attractiveness one way or the other, or being overtly sexy? well, you could act like a lady
but why? and how? what is it to act like a lady?
acting like a lady is leveraging your attractiveness (whatever degree of it you might have) while also giving yourself/the people you’re interacting with, plausible deniability that you’re leveraging your attractiveness. now this might sound kind of fucked up. and i’m not saying it’s never fucked up. also i'm not saying this always works, you just don't have total control over other individuals sadly (or you wouldn't have to strategize like this at all). but even in the worst case scenario idt it’s any more fucked up than being overtly sexy & then not putting out for the ppl who are nice to you. and in most cases it is far less fucked up, because the best way to execute that plausible deniability, is to give people something they will actually value. so then the structure of what happens is that they are initially nicer to you bc you're attractive, but you give them something else that they like enough that they won’t feel cheated.
one great thing about this, for you as a woman who has some trouble understanding people, is that you don’t actually have to know for sure whether they’re being nice to you because you’re attractive or because you’re nice–
this is also why the “ladylike” strategy ages much, much better than the overtly sexual strategy: you start out with a lot of like cushion, as it were, from being sexually attractive, but as your sexual power decreases you’re using your time to learn to be better and better at giving ppl what they want (that you’re okay with giving them) while getting what you want in a way that’s plausibly-deniably-not-sexual, and by the time you’re not attractive anymore, you will actually be good at social negotiation.
here’s the dune quote i promised btw:
The Reverend Mother must combine the seductive wiles of a courtesan with the untouchable majesty of a virgin goddess, holding these attributes in tension so long as the powers of her youth endure. When youth and beauty are gone, she will find that the place between, once occupied by tension, has become a wellspring of cunning and resourcefulness.
the problem with this quote is that it sounds too sexy-assassin & aesthetically underestimates the value of just being nice & considerate. but it’s got the spirit
being ladylike has downsides–it takes more mental effort than any of the other options. & also you miss out on some short term gains from just being super obviously sexy. that being said i still think that most strange young women could benefit from implementing more of this strategy
tips for how to act like a lady
dressing like a lady: cooperate don’t defect
this doesn’t mean “don’t dress weird” you actually have a fair amount of room to dress weird within these guidelines
when you’re sexually attractive to a man you’re talking to, it hijacks some of his attention, and it’s not easy for him to wrest it back. sorry for sounding like a middle aged schoolteacher explaining dress code to you. overt tits and ass hit the hardest with this but showing lots of leg & fetishy shit does too. the thing is he won’t really mind when he feels like you might be having sex, but if it ever becomes clear that that’s definitely not happening, then frequently the tool he will use to wrest some of his hijacked attention back from you, is feeling negative feelings about you. another aspect is that he might feel that he could never hijack attention in the same way, that he could look good but what you are doing to him is something he’s incapable of–so the easiest, most available go-to negative is resentment, which is very poisonous. people don’t like feeling manipulated unreciprocally without payoff.
that being said, the more old-fashioned/more stereotypically ladylike/more formal/more expensive (sorry but cost does matter) the vibe of your outfit is, the more overt sexuality you can get away with without triggering this–bc all of those signal unattainability–when you actually are unattainable no one will be surprised
& also if you’re good at managing people you can get away with more overt sexuality without triggering this
this is kind of a case with fuzzy borders & you do have to exercise some discretion & learning over time
also when women can tell, or believe, that you are doing something painful/uncomfortable/dangerous/inconvenient (or, specifically, doing something more painful/uncomfortable/dangerous/inconvenient, than they want to do) to be more sexually attractive, they will feel defected against. obvious plastic surgery hits this really hard, a ton of makeup hits this really hard, very high heels, clothing that’s revealing enough to limit movement. this isn’t about clothes but relatedly, girls will feel defected against if you eat in a way that they believe would be uncomfortable for them & they believe that you’re doing it to be skinny(er than they are). they could be totally wrong about why you’re doing it, & they’re likely to be totally wrong about whether it would even be uncomfortable, but there it is.
don’t get too down about this because there are a lot of ways to increase how attractive you are without triggering other women to think you’re doing sthg unfair. you can figure out which colors & styles of clothing look best on you; that won’t usually make other women uncomfortable. you can get invested in your health in a way that makes you look better but also doesn't make other women feel defected against. if you eat in a way that obviously actually makes you feel better, or exercise in a way that obv actually makes you feel better or gives you a skill, then ppl will feel less defected against bc its plausibly deniable that you're just competing w them
learn how to be considerate
be on the lookout for favors to do for ppl–remember you're doing all this in the first place to make ppl treat you better so i dont think this is unfair to ask. being nice to people is just a good thing to do in general. but aside from that, it gives ppl an excuse to be nice to you back. & little kindnesses hit harder from a cute girl–you will still be getting a disproportional return on your investment here
especially do SOCIAL favors–introduce people to each other, that really hits–say nice things about people behind their backs–look out for people at events who are alone and feeling awkward & talk to them–obviously for the last one, prioritize people you know or you might find out that stranger is alone bc they're unpleasant
ppl really like getting food, cookies hit hard
in general just remember that while you're still young & pretty, you have more influence in social situations–& someone who feels like you made them feel better in a social situation, is going to be nicer & more forgiving socially w you
consider reading old etiquette books (OLD ONES. not recent ones) & thinking about how the rules worked. they won’t always explain the rules in a way that's available to you, but thinking about why those rules were rules, will be much easier than trying to deduce how to be considerate from first principles
favors done privately will feel more romantic/sexual, which is one reason introducing two ppl to each other is such a great move. especially introduce potential couples
don’t defect against women socially
if you’re a weird woman who legitimately gets along better w men, that is valid. but that being said there is a certain amount of competition for limited male attention going on socially. bc its easier to get men to be nice to you than women. but if you are monopolizing male attention it will make other women uncomfortable & they will not feel the need to be nice to you & frankly its fair
try not to pay disproportionate attention to men more than women, greet a gf/wife before a bf/husband in a social situation, if you've literally never met her before don't like, catch up w him & chat & wait for him to mention her….give him a quick hello & make sure you get introduced to her
on social media pay a little extra attention to how you are being treated by taken/coupled men. if some woman sees her man liking all of your instagram pics she’ll be as annoyed with you as with him. do you have taken men on your circles/alts/close friends/private account, but not their girlfriend/wife? honestly you might as well add his girlfriend/wife because she’s probably seeing it anyway. if you really cant stand to add her consider getting rid of him.
don’t talk directly about etiquette/manners too much—at least in irl social situations. it will make ppl feel uncomfy & judged for their manners. you probably naturally don’t judge people too much on their manners, but when you’re actively trying to have better manners, you’ll find yourself bringing this stuff up more if you’re not careful
with regards to talking about sex in mixed company. sexuality is legitimately fascinating. at the same time, if you are a pretty young woman, you are getting rewards for talking about sex that are disproportionate, & if you are a weird young woman you might not notice that they are disproportionate. your sex jokes are going to get a way bigger laugh than if you made an equally funny nonsexual joke–some of that laughter is just a happy response from people being glad that you seem sexually available. your thoughts about sex might get a more fascinated response than equally insightful thoughts about other topics, because people just want to hear you talk about sex. just be aware of this and have a sense of humor about it. if other women feel uncomfortable & vulnerable talking about sex in whatever social situation you’re in, & you’re getting a lot of attention for talking about sex, they might feel weird & lame & ignored & then they won’t like you as much
this is kind of on a different note than everything else but posture is going to have a huuuuuuuge impact on whether people buy your ladylike thing. don’t be afraid to take up vertical space, be long. you might need to lift weights and/or do yoga to actually be able to accomplish this. your neck and shoulders matter the most for this. loooong neck. open shoulders. you’ll feel physically better if you do this
being lounge-y and making s-curves w your body like an ingres painting is something to be used only w care
i don’t want you to read this as like, a set of rules i think you have to follow. this is just stuff you can try, and keep doing if you think it helps. but for various reasons i don’t think that this information gets laid out explicitly, so i think it was worth saying