I was on Tumblr one day and noticed a video circulating of a woman ranting about how she constantly felt tested by men regarding her taste in music, because it was considered alternative. It got my mind going about my own experiences with this very issue, but it’s always been because I have an alternative taste in music and love makeup. How can I love metal and 90s alternative music when my hair is curled and I’m wearing lipstick?
I’ve always found it weird that so many people assume that you need to “look” a certain way to enjoy different types of music and even literature. Is there really something about my appearance that makes others (in my experience, mostly men*) want to test my knowledge instead of engaging in a conversation? If I don’t particularly like the same bands or books as you, does that somehow invalidate my own interests in their minds?
It’s something that has crossed my mind often, mainly because feeling tested and quizzed randomly is something I feel a great deal of anxiety about. Being tested in any sense makes me feel anxious, and has since I was in school, but feeling tested and judged if I stutter about something throws me over the edge at times. There’s something about feeling put “on the spot” that makes me feel nervous and makes my mind blank.
If testing someone is your way of trying to start a conversation, maybe you should rethink your methods. Don’t assume by my outfit or appearance that I can’t know anything about grunge or metal, because I will more than likely surprise you. I know I’m not the only woman that feels this way, because I have talked to many online and in person that have stressed the same complaints. I can’t think of too many that love being tested when they first meet people. I do know of many people that enjoy talking about their interests in a non-hostile way.
Why are so many women tested when we say that we enjoy things that are considered alternative? There should be no need for us to validate or “prove” our interests. There should be no reason for me to dress a certain way to enjoy the things I do, and that goes for everyone and anyone. One doesn’t need to “look” knowledgeable to be educated on any subject, and that’s a dichotomy that needs to be kicked to the curb once and for all.
I fell victim to that for awhile myself, and found myself miserable. It didn’t exactly help, and I still found myself feeling tested any time I chimed in and said I liked something. Dress how you want and enjoy whatever you want. It’s time to stop allowing labels and the cliques we experienced growing up to dictate our interests and appearances.
You don’t owe anyone validation for your interests. If you’re an alternative music lover and you also know the difference between every shade in the Urban Decay Naked palettes, go you. It’s totally fine and it took me so long to accept that myself. I don’t owe anyone explanations, and I don’t have to enjoy the exact same things as anyone else for my interests to be be taken seriously.
If you want to sit down with a cup of coffee and have a chat, I’m totally down with that – just don’t quiz me.
*Obviously, men also experience these same types of experiences. I am only speaking of my own personal lived experience.
– Luna Fay