I thought some more about this, and I thought of another factor.
The part of aggressive intimidation that strikes me as silly, the part that jars me out of being effectively intimidated, is this:
When you’re trying to intimidate someone into doing something, what you do is, you strike your scary pose or say your scary thing or whatever, and then you have to watch your target and see if it worked, or if you need to be scarier.
It’s the part where someone looks at me and wants to see my reaction. That’s novel for me.
And, to be clear, I find it equally striking when someone looks at me like that in a positive context. (I’m not saying people never pay attention to me or listen to what I say, but… there’s a particular look, and it’s really startling, and I don’t know what else to ascribe it to other than curiosity and attentiveness about what I’m thinking.)
And in the context of someone trying to be aggressive and intimidating, instead of striking me as either pleasant or scary, it strikes me as hilarious.
How can someone possibly be dangerous to me if they care about what I think?
How can someone possibly be dangerous to me if they think there’s a chance they might not be able to control me? If they don’t just assume without thought that they have absolute power over me and that I’ll do whatever they say?
So yeah. That’s a short lesson in how to/how not to scare me.