I am still treated as a mere mindless female by men in public. I am 56 years old, and I have been around the block, quite a few times.
I used to love talking with people, but I no longer can, now that I have found my voice, because booze and reality do not mix well.
And I’ve always loved going to bars and have always felt more at home bellied up to a good one than in any home I’ve ever had. Comes from 20 plus years in food service and of always being alone.
In the old days I used to go out and be the life of the party; I was fun and funny but I really knew my place and I stayed small when men were around, or people of ‘importance,’ and I excused myself all the time with
‘oops! I’m sorry. . . .’
and I allowed men and mindless middle management bosses to tell me to smile or comment on my body or slap my ass and I felt like shit and I didn’t even realize why.
I do kind of understand why men feel like they can tell me what I should do or believe or think; they’ve been brainwashed as well. All of us have been socially conditioned to stay in our assigned places, assigned by whatever situation and family we’re born into, and to stay within its carefully defined borders.
~but I no longer allow anyone to tell me to smile, not men on the street, nor female bosses. I’ll smile when I feel like smiling.
And I already know what my breasts look like and what my ass looks like so you don’t need to point it out to me. Just keep your ten-year old comments to yourself.
And I will NOT put up with people being insensitive, I don’t care who the hell they are.
I see the effects of abuse and apathy nearly every day. I see it lingering in the lifeless eyes of women all around me. In fact, sexism has become so acceptable, that I am verbally attacked by both friends and strangers for pointing it out.
A man yelled at me from his car only about six months ago when I was walking down Rainier Avenue,
‘I’m gonna TAP that pussy!’
My Terror and my automated self-defense mechanism (that’s on overdrive) was intense and immediate, as it always is when I’m threatened with rape.
I take that shit seriously.
I ran into the middle of the street, shook my middle finger in the air as high as I could and screamed, ‘Fuuuuuuuuck Youuuuuu, Asshooole!’
When he disappeared from sight, I felt like an asshole myself, screaming like a banchee, making all the people standing within earshot stare at me like I was just another crazy woman. Which I am accused of being. A lot.
I can’t take it any more.
Another time, about a year ago, I was warned by a man, just two blocks from my house, when he chased me and cornered my tiny Ford Escort with his 2 ton Monster Truck against the curb. He didn’t like my driving etiquette; I was going to the right of the roundabout when he wanted to turn left, and we came to an impass. He looked down into my open window:
‘I’m gonna rape you to death, bitch.’
And that, I understand, is a pretty standard message used by men (boys, actually) these days to intimidate women and girls.
I started writing about my most painful memories while getting drunk, after three months of sobriety, because the memories are just to fucking painful for me to face fully sober. I was sitting at one of my places of “comfort and security” last week, a local South End joint. A sweetheart of a man named Eric was tending bar. I was writing about my abuse, and my cider was cold and soothing (just like home, that alcohol) and it was going down fast. I was well into my second Imperial pint when I heard some asshole at the other end of the bar yell something about sticking his finger into someone’s pussy.
My auto-defense system (my alter-ego who takes over when I’m emotionally incapable of being present, or blacked out drunk) yelled back at him to shut the hell up before I even knew what I was doing. I can’t remember my actual words because I was enraged. He “felt” me; he saw I wasn’t joking around, and he said to his friends, ‘oops! I better go!’ with that expression of ‘look, it’s another crazy, emotional bitch!’
A young woman, a beautiful, plump, dark-skinned girl in her early twenties who was wearing something that resembled a piece of black plastic stretched around her pelvis, just barely covering her vulva, looked at me and laughed. I was immediately annoyed with her as well, because the expression on her face told me, listen here, I’m about to school you, old lady, about the Way It Is These Days.
‘You just aren’t used to it!’ She laughed again, that laugh that young people often use with cute, old, clueless people like me. She explained a little further, for my feeble mind to grasp: ‘That’s just the way guys talk these days!’
Oh hell no; no it is not! Not within in my earshot, not while I have breath in me. If men understood how many women have been emotionally as well as physically abused by the men in their own families, and friends of their families, and who live every day in emotional pain and terror, and how it hurts when they thoughtlessly spew stupid, sexist bullshit, they might just keep their goddamned traps shut.
That is why I write.
Read on, and see what a lifetime of misogyny and the denial of its existence by women, especially my mother, did to me.