The Defensive Nature of Being Offended: Introduction

The Defensive Nature of Being Offended: Introduction

“I find you offensive.” It was only the third time since beginning my transition that a random stranger had approached me with any sort of criticism. The first was a well-intentioned older lady in a Starbucks who informed me I was an abomination (she abandoned the conversation after she couldn’t give me chapter and verse – I gave it to her instead). The second, also in a Starbucks, was a couple of smart aleck teenage boys who were no doubt still in search of their own identities. This was also an older lady, this time in a McDonalds (I opted for a dollar coke instead of a $4 coffee <sigh>).

I had my headphones on and was reading a book on my iPad (I do all my blogging and research on Apple products – Apple’s sponsorship department can contact me here). I hadn’t noticed her approach me, but she spoke loud enough for me to hear her over Journey (seriously – who interrupts Journey?).

I took my ears out and looked up at her, “Excuse me?”

She stood her ground and repeated her position, “I find you offensive.”

“Oh,” I said after a brief moment of stunned and confused silence. “Well,” I continued, “I find you defensive.”

She looked at me like I had slapped her.

“What does that mean?”

“I don’t know, I’ll have to think through it. But I definitely find you defensive.”

I truly didn’t know exactly what I meant. I was rather hoping she would sit down and we could have a friendly dialogue on the subject, perhaps bridge some generation gaps. She had other things to do apparently. The party she had been waiting on appeared from the restroom and she was off without another word.

I don’t know if I was subconsciously being fed by the Sunday afternoon sports analysis murmuring from the TV on the walls in the background or if there was something from my past that bubbled up in that moment, but I had a hard time thinking about much of anything else for a while. I’ve never been one to shy away from sports – I have a letter from High School – but I’ve never really been given to team sports analogies. Why did I find her defensive? What might she have been defending? Was I being offensive? What is the difference between offense and defense? I don’t often get offended, why is that?

Game on.

As I have read and written on this subject, I decided to divide it up into a series that I will post over the next few weeks. Way too much for one post here.

Next: The Offensive Side of Defense

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