Saturday, October 23, 2010

Stop talking, idiot!

Interacting with female staff can be a delicate operation, with the potential for disaster ever present. A wrong remark, a casual civility, can be misinterpreted as over-familiarity or worse. For a lifer, such an event can have serious consequences.
My solution to this is to treat women staff as men. I just ignore their gender. One odd side effect of this is that not only do I not flirt but I am unable to recognise when a woman is flirting with me. Short of her sending in a marching band chanting "take me now", I just don't recognise an interested woman.

There are occasions, though, when this blinkered view fails and a conversation does shift from the official to the personal...and it can leave me flat-footed. I stuck my head into the office to collar the manager who’s in charge of my education, the author of the recent deal to pay me and bang me up. As I was talking to her, I noticed something different about her face but couldn't quite put my finger on it.
"What's with your eyes?", I asked, peering at her. "I'm wearing mascara". A sharper man may have then made a neutral comment and moved on. "It looks weird" the words left my mouth I though, crap, I'm accidentally insulting her! Weird?!? What a choice of words.

Being in this self inflicted hole, I found myself digging deeper. I ended up telling her that it made her eyes look very good, and then cursed myself even more. Bugger, I thought, now I've gone from insulting her into flirting territory, the thin ice that is "inappropriate behaviour"...

This is why it's a lot simpler to treat women staff as men, and keep it as impersonal as possible!


  1. Don't worry, it just shows you are human. Every man alive has at some point dug themselves into a hole by accidentally insulting a woman, and generally by the time I've finished talking I couldn't have done the job better with a JCB.

  2. Aaah, bless! My husband once told me my new hairstyle made me look like a monk - women don't forget things like that in a hurry! :)

  3. It is quite barbaric to constrain a man's and / or a woman's sexuality like this. Such places that enforce this kind of distortion of sexuality really do have a lot to answer for.

    Mind you at the bottom line in all of this lies the greatest distortion of all of our sexualities which is that it can be bought and sold.

    On top of that the authorities see it fit to hide that fact and make prostitution illegal. This then leads to the most horrific acts of violence on the poor mainly women and children who get trapped in it.

    I really hope your prison ordeal will be behind you soon Ben for you to be able to live as closely as possible to being yourself and to being free.

    Best wishes x

  4. Jules and SophieJ, you hit the nail on the head. The moment men start to ignore me, I go ballistic. I flirt with men because I love men and I love men who flirt with me. That is what we Zulus do even in our dancing. Expressing one's exuality means just that, admiring a good looking man or woman. It does not mean that has to be followed by a sexual orgy., especially for people who think along my lines, i.e. to only have sex in a committal relationship.

    I hope women working in prison have that kind of flexibility. Rigidity just serves the capitalist view of life, whereby you have to behave in a certain way just to be approved of as a decent human being even it means suppressing your own normal human instincts.

  5. I totally agree with Florence. Life wouldn't be worth living if we couldn't appreciate the wonder of each other as human beings, it's the most natural thing in the world. There is nothing like a warm appreciative smile to make you feel better. And it's not about sex, it's about sharing a common humanity, in my book!

    'People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the seas, at the long course of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and yet ... they pass by themselves without wondering.'

    Going by this verse, there is lots for you to wonder at in prison Ben.

  6. Well, my take on this is, in jail anyway, that men look at women coz they want sex. Women use sex when they want something, for example, A whole load of us were in the lifer room in cookham wood, when it was a womans prison, we all had a batch of hooch on the go, and the only thing missing was some Yeast. One of the girls said,
    "well, one of us is gonna have to give Mr X ( a screw) a blow job," (in exchange for some Yeast) at which point, i stood back, and said "don't worry, i won't have any" but they were game, and let me have some anyway. I never recall women prisoners talking in a sexual way of male staff. As there were a lot of drug addicts there, there were many women who were brass's (cockney rhyming slang for begger boys ares).

  7. I agree with Sophie,

    Ben get yourself a prostitute

  8. That is just pure slackness, anonymous

  9. I wouldn't worry, we've all made mistakes like that.

  10. Women use sex when they want something - anonymous.

    Personally I find cash more effective. It's certainly a far sight less likely to get me arrested in Tesco.