I’ve been thinking lately about people who insist on asking invasive questions even when their subject is uncomfortable. It’s mostly in association with my asexuality awareness activism that I end up telling someone their subject matter or querying style is inappropriate for a non-consenting stranger, and almost without fail I’m then told they JUST WANT TO LEARN and if I’m HOSTILE to their curiosity, probably I just want to be offended, want to shame them, or hate science. Never do they acknowledge that they need a consenting educator if they want to ask intense personal questions about abuse, sexual experience, or physical health, and never do they recognize the damage they do by simply taking our availability and willingness to educate them for granted.
I once met someone at a party who said she was not on Facebook because stalkers had made it too dangerous for her. I didn’t ask. When a different friend asked me who she was in my photos and why she wasn’t tagged, I told him she said she had stalkers. And when he asked me for more of the story, I told him I didn’t know because I had not asked her.
He was FURIOUS.
He demanded to know how the hell I could possibly live with the curiosity of NOT KNOWING who is stalking her and why, and how could I be so cruel as to now pass that mystery on to HIM knowing he has no way to dig up the True Story of Stalkers of a Girl He Has Never Met.
“I just can’t believe you’re not a CURIOUS person,” he scolded me.
And when I said it had been clear to me in the moment that she didn’t want to talk about it–after all, she had been driven off a social media platform by STALKERS–he essentially said it didn’t matter if I hurt her by asking the questions this situation would NATURALLY raise–that she should have known if she told me the stalkers existed that I would want to know everything, and in fact she probably WANTED me to ask the question because why else would she leave that door open? Why, he needed to know, was I such an asshole as to burden him with the knowledge that there was something out there he now could never know? I had cursed him to wonder forever!
It’s this weird entitlement to information at the KNOWN expense of its source, in a general sense, that inspired me to write a new short story. It’s called “Her Experiment.”
The story has nothing to do with asexuality activism or stalkers, but it explores this type of person and the way they manipulate and control people who are harmed by their attempts to help (or satisfy their own curiosity).
To be honest, I’m not sure I like the story. I wrote it in a strange way, continuing to come back to it even at times that I didn’t feel like writing, and finishing it mostly felt like just getting through it. And like most stories I write, it just kept getting longer and less publishable every time I sat down.
I’ll sit with it a bit and then see if anyone wants ten thousand words of entitled curious person.