Contempt wears many faces | A Dream, Part 2

by Elouise

Contempt, best teacher

My dream is calling out to me. If I take the dream as reality, it’s already too late! There I am with those young girls and women in a relatively safe place. What do I do? Nothing, really. I play the invisible hostess role.

I have a voice. I don’t use it—in either scene! I have a story. I don’t tell it. I have years of experience. I don’t draw on them. I think (in my own damaged way) that any move to draw attention to myself would be improper.

Yet in this room are at least two young women who, in the next scene, have been captured and tethered to chains while their ‘owners’ go into a beer joint to drink beer with their buddies. And then what?

No matter how we got from scene 1 to scene 2, I see a missed opportunity. I see it clearly because I’m having this dream in the midst of a hurricane of attention to acts of terror and presidential politics. Yet here I sit with an audience and a platform–and things I don’t want left unsaid. Here they are.

There’s a link between
what these young girls and women need to recognize,
and what we as voters and citizens of any country need to recognize.
It’s called seduction, a form of contempt for others.

Here’s my list of red flags for seduction. Each tactic expresses contempt for people who aren’t respected for who they are. Instead they’re seen as sources of something valuable the seducer is determined to get for his or her own gain (a body or a vote), no matter what the cost to the other person.

Always at the stop of my list. I can’t tell you how often people who led off with flattery turned out to be untrustworthy. Even though their flattery felt manipulative, it always felt great! The hook was  in me, whether I wanted it there or not.

You say you can do what for me? That sounds too good to be true! It is. Yet I want it so much (and am still feeling really good about that flattery), that I don’t bother to investigate this or consult trusted friends. I just pay for it–in more ways than one.

So-called ‘Empathy’ 
“I feel your pain!” I know exactly how you feel! I’m not like ThemThey don’t understand you at all! I, on the other hand understand you better than anyone else! Surely I can believe this person. I know how to read people’s voices and body language really well. Trust me. I know what I’m doing.

“Don’t you Trust Me?”
My guard is down; I’ve already fallen for your so-called empathy and for that delicious flattery. It doesn’t matter that I wasn’t shown a plan or a roadmap about how we’ll get from here to there, and what it will cost. Of course I trust you!

Appeals to Entitlement
You deserve so much better than this! You’ve worked hard all your life; you’re a good, wise and intelligent woman! You deserve so much more! I can make it happen. I understand what it’s like to be down and out. I used to be poor myself. But look at me now! Money! Property! A great career! You deserve that too. Won’t you let me help you?

Appeals to Fear
I can protect you! I know exactly how to keep you safe from All Those People out to get you! You do know they’re out there, don’t you? They might try to take advantage of you! You need a defender! I can do the job. I’d hate to see you get hurt.

When All Else Fails – Pity Me
I don’t want to take advantage of you. You’ve already given me so much. But I need just a little [fill in the blank]. I’d never ask if I didn’t need it right now. Did you know you’re the most wonderful, giving person I’ve ever met? How about it? It’s all up to you.

* * *

Have you had similar experiences, or known others who did? What else might be on a list of red flags?

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 10 December 2015
Image credit: