Tag Archives: misogyny

Bye Bill, Bye.

20 Apr

Yesterday afternoon at work a message from The New York Times appeared on my phone. It read:

Bill O’Reilly Out at Fox After Harassment Allegations

I threw my hands up in the air and hissed a quiet “yes!” to myself. Then I looked around the bar to see who I could share this moment of sheer glory with. The only other person behind the bar was a dude who I have not been overly impressed by. But, I thought to myself, perhaps I have been a little judgmental. If you know me it will come as no surprise that I have a tendency to be slow to forgive the poor behavior of new men that I meet. I am even slower to forgive the poor behavior of new white men. It’s my belief that they more often than not get the benefit of the doubt by default and are therefore allowed to get away with bullshit other people cannot. Not only can they get away with it, but they oftentimes benefit from it. However in this particular moment I decided, selfishly if I’m being honest, to set my pre-conceived notions aside and invite him to join in my celebration of the demise of one of cable news’ biggest pieces of shit. (And that’s saying something.)

So I walked over, still grinning from ear to ear, and told him about the news.

Bill O’Reilly got fired by Fox!

He looked at me, cocking his head slightly to the side.

Oh? For what?

I let out a slight exhale of annoyance. But I calmed myself. It’s okay, I thought, not everyone is up on the news. Not even HUGE news that is being written about almost constantly. Some people just like to live their lives and surround themselves by the things that matter to them and that’s totally cool. I surround myself by gymnastics, current affairs and institutional sexism and racism. That’s not everyone’s thang though.

Allegations of sexual harassment. Fox has settled for like $13 million with 5 different women and I imagine that is only the tip of the iceberg. Dude is a piece of shit.

He smiled.

Well, that’s good. Although I thought it would be something bad.

He thought it would be something bad. I stared at him, realizing that my suspension of previous judgements was clearly a mistake. The times he talked down to me and snapped at me for no reason. The time he scolded me for stirring rather than shaking a vodka martini by sneering

You’re stirring vodka? Shake vodka; stir gin.

And then walked away and joked with one of the male bartenders, leaving me stewing and feeling tiny in the corner. Because that’s what happens sometimes. Sometimes you end up working in a boys club. Where (white) dude after (white) dude talks down to you and scolds you meanwhile your male coworkers do the exact same things as you and they get a slap on the back. And so of course he wouldn’t think that sexual assault allegations dating back decades against the highest grossing cable news anchor in history is that bad. Of course not. Because treating women poorly is just part of life. It’s just the way things are.

Sometimes I want to look at someone like him, some doughy faced boy, and just tell him about himself. I want him to know I am smarter than him, better informed, kinder and more responsible. But that doesn’t really matter because he can go out and get hammered and not worry about getting raped on his way home and he can routinely show up to work 2 hours late, still drunk from the night before, and be up for a promotion. Meanwhile Bill O’Reilly has gotten far, really far, my mistreating women and the only thing that actually got him ousted was Fox’s bottom line. And no, not the $13 million, that’s a drop in the bucket compared to what O’Reilly brings in. It was because of the loss of advertisement dollars. It was because O’Reilly had to start doing 8 more minutes of show daily to make up for the shortening of commercial segments. And everyone can say that this is a win for the idea of corporate social responsibility, that this is capitalism at work, that large companies do in fact care but the fact of the matter is they care about where the money is. Meanwhile the true heroes are the women who are strong enough to take on one of the biggest men who works for perhaps the most misogynistic company in media today. That shit takes ovaries. Big fucking ovaries. Because you better believe that the die-hard O’Reilly fans are taking to the internet to harass, shame and threaten these women for bringing their idol crashing down. No matter that he did it to himself. And no matter that, although he won’t be returning to Fox News, he will be fine. These men are always fine. Look no further than Tucker Carlson who just took O’Reilly’s spot. He might not have racked up sexual harassment allegations but he is no stranger to treating women like garbage.

I had that moment of happiness, and although I am still happy about it I no longer see this as a win. Sure, O’Reilly is gone (for now) but what will replace him? Will the culture change? Will Fox, and the people who watch Fox, start asking themselves the tough questions about their behavior and their privilege and their opinions that are founded in ignorance rather than fact? Or will they just turn an angry eye to the accusers and the liberal scum who support them and retreat deeper into their hole? Because the truth is that O’Reilly might have lost advertisers but he did not lose many fans. And that is a problem. And it’s a problem that runs super deep because as offensive as my co-worker’s statement was, it was an accurate reflection of a normalized viewpoint. Sexual harassment against women isn’t that bad. Misogyny isn’t that bad. Rape isn’t that bad. The patriarchy isn’t that bad. And for those of us who believe the opposite, it is like living in an alternate universe. And it makes it hard to even celebrate the demise of one of the most hated men. It is hard to relish in his downfall. Because this is all a distraction from the bigger conversation. Bill O’Reilly’s ouster does not change the culture; he is just another scape goat for it. He will find himself another microphone. We have not seen the last of him. And in ways it feels as though we are no better off today than we were yesterday.

Women Are Human Beings, A Brief Investigation

23 Feb

Men, am I right?

The thing about men, as an overarching group, is that they basically suck. Especially white men. Because white people as a group also basically suck. My math is as follows, feel free to follow along and check. Keep in mind, however, that math was never exactly my forte. Honestly I am not entirely sure that what follows even qualifies as math but I’m going with it.

 

       If Men = Bad
       And White People = Bad
       Then Men + White People = Bad x 2

And then actually I can continue on this path of logic a little bit further and say that people on The Internet are pretty awful. But especially men. And most especially the white ones. And so it follows:

       If Men = Bad
       And White People = Bad
       And Also Internet = Bad
       Then Men + White People + Internet = Bad x 3

QED, right? I think so, too.

***

Yesterday I made the mistake of interacting with a man who I don’t know on The Internet. This always ends in tears. Or, in this particular case, me shaking with anger and having to pour myself a wee nip of wine to calm myself before heading off to work. (I work in a bar so this is entirely acceptable.) The gist of what happened is as follows:

  1. Dude comments on a link posted by a friend concerning the controversial Oklahoma Bill that would require women to receive permission from the man responsible for the sperm that helped create a fetus before being allowed to obtain an abortion. Dude claimed although the language was “objectionable” that what the legislator, Justin Humphrey, said is not entirely absurd. (Dude was nice enough to state that there should obviously be certain times when this rule doesn’t apply such as rape and domestic abuse.)
  2. I responded that the statement is in fact entirely absurd and then explained why, starting with assumptions I believe are made on behalf of the anti-choice camp and continuing on to highlight, quite rationally I might add, all of the financial and lifestyle changes that women alone have to endure in order to grow and then deliver a child oh and also our seriously fucked up national, and international, history when it comes to dealing with rape and domestic abuse.
  3. Dude said I needed to make a rational argument.
  4. My friend chimed in to tell Dude he ought to read Casey vs Planned Parenthood, the Supreme Court decision that actually deemed laws such as these unconstitutional.
  5. I said that I had, in fact, made a rational argument.
  6. Dude responded that I had “ranted incoherently” and then decided to give me “pro tips” on how to behave in the future.

I bowed out at this time but not before a bunch of other people weighed in. The interaction went on and on and on. And on. At some point my friend Nick said the following:

No, you received a comprehensive breakdown of reasons why “because it’s my body” is a perfectly legitimate position. You didn’t want to confront it, called the woman voicing them incoherent and then tried to shift into a pointless rhetorical argument that you’ll just pursue until people get tired of it and move on with their lives.

Then you’ll feel comfortably superior… for some reason that only you yourself will ever truly understand.

As correct as that statement in fact was, it is really only the tip of the iceberg. So before I really get into it, let me just address a few things so that we can set them aside and move on. Myself and many other women, and certainly all the women I know, are incredibly sick of seeing old white men, and young white men for that matter, attempt to regulate our bodies through archaic, paternalistic legislation. We are also tired of having men tell us this legislation is actually not that bad and then, in an archaic and paternalistic manner, tell us exactly why. So let me say this here and now:

Abortion is necessary. Equal access to safe abortion services is needed. It is a right that all women should have, regardless of race, religion, income level, geographic location or circumstance surrounding the pregnancy. Women are not hosts, women are human beings. The argument that pregnancy means that we should somehow lose autonomy over our own bodies, our own lives, is not only absurd it is dehumanizing, disempowering and dangerous. And it is especially dangerous for low income women of color because wealthy, white women will always, I repeat always, be able to gain access to a safe, private abortion regardless of what the law says.

Women are tired of having to explain to men, over and over and over again, why exactly it is that we should have autonomy over our own bodies and why our feelings about a pregnancy necessarily matter more than theirs. The fact that this conversation continues tells me that the overarching norm concerning this issue is that women’s bodies should not be self-governed but that instead our bodies exist in the public sphere. This is simply not so. The fact that this conversation continues also tells me that women are not heard. Full stop. And that, friends, is the point of this post.

 ***

I am here to tell you right now that what exists inside of my skull is not a lady brain. It is a brain. A fully formed, fully functioning human brain capable of reasoning, of critical thinking, of debating, of retaining, analyzing and dispensing of all manner of complicated information. But what I hear, and what other women hear, is that what we have to say is simply not as valid as what men have to say. And that our space to say those things does not belong to us. We have to fight for that space every single time. And when we  occupy that space, we have to be as direct, as accurate, and as quick as possible in using it because any misstep becomes the meat of what we said. And even if there is no misstep, if we simply state a dissenting opinion, we are dismissed as ranting, as incoherent, as harpies, as cunts.

This has been happening to every single one of us since the day we were born, whether we realize it or not. And it happens much more to women of color than to white women because white women do it to women of color. The thing, though, is that it does not only happen at the hands of legislators in Oklahoma or anywhere else, or at the hands of random men on The Internet, but also at the hands of our friends and family. I have said this before and I will say it again: misogyny is insidious. And because it is insidious, it is internalized not only by men but by women as well. I left that interaction yesterday feeling as though my sanity had been taken from me. Feeling as though, for lack of a less “in” term, I had been gaslit. I made the argument to this person that just because he refused to engage with my analysis does not mean that my analysis ceased to exist. But the fact of the matter is that again and again men define the terms. This person was only willing to have an argument on the terms that he delineated, that fit snuggly within a set of rules that he had written and that could potentially change at any time. Any deviation from the desired debate or conversation was deemed irrational, incoherent and rambling. That is the reality in which myself and all women live.

Plain and simple: we do not control the conversation even when we’re the subject of it.

This ill-advised interaction I had with this Internet presence is actually symptomatic of a much larger issue, larger even than women’s right to control their own bodies. It is symptomatic of a world in which a woman’s voice matter significantly less than a man’s. It is symptomatic of a world in which men have the power, through sheer force of will and institutional misogyny, to dictate the terms of conversation and to require women to either fit within those confines or feel like a hormonal, crazy, rambling bitch. It is a world in which we second guess our own thoughts, interpretations and experiences. It is a world in which I say about men on the regular:

He doesn’t like women. Yeah, he likes to fuck women. But he doesn’t like women.

That is where I live. That is where we all live. So seriously Internet Guy, I am going to do to you what you did to me. I am going to silence you. You ready?

Here’s the deal. You are, quite simply, wrong. Making an argument other than that women should 100% be in control of their own biological processes is illogical. Whatever way that you choose to defend your ill-conceived position, is incoherent, irrelevant and a waste of your time and mine. You do not know how to argue. And you do not get to determine the terms of this discussion. In conclusion, the reason that you, and men like you, work so hard to keep women down is that when it comes down to it we are, in fact, superior specimens. We can make life. And we also have the right to choose not to make life. Get with it. Your opinion on this issue does not matter.

***

Post Note: If any of you are doubting this analysis, if any of you think that the way our world works is not in large part dictated through a lens of misogyny, then explain to me how Donald J. Trump is our President. And if you tell me that it’s because the DNC screwed Bernie Sanders over, think a little more.

 

 

 

Let’s Do This Right

12 Nov

This has been a hard week for a lot of us. For most of the people who read this blog, I suspect. Expecting to walk into the ring and come out victorious, we got TKOd in the 9th round and found ourselves lying on the mat surrounded by friends asking if we were okay (we were, and are, not) staring up at a glass ceiling that we all expected to be shattered and yet there it remained, in tact as always. And we were angry. And we lashed out on blog posts and in conversations with our friends and families, at protests in cities all over the country, and we promised to be united and to work. We promised to combat this regression with positive change. We poured over the internet at stories of harassment, of people afraid to leave the house, and we were incensed. This was not our America. And then…

And then…

We started coming across posts by our friends, by our supposed allies. Posts of Melania Trump, the wife of the president elect (I still shudder when I say that), in the nude. Because yes, she was a model. And yes, she did occasionally pose nude. But what does that have to do with anything? Why are people posting photos of past First Ladies in conservative dress and then one of Melania Trump, naked? I’ll tell you: because people are sexist as fuck.

And honestly, in a lot of ways, that is a large part of what this election came down to. And that is what this election, or post-election I suppose, is still in part about. Misogyny. And if you think it isn’t as bad on the left then you are kidding yourself. If you think I’m wrong, just look at how much time it takes for you to find a naked picture of Melania on some “progressive’s” timeline or website. Or how long it takes one of your male friends to conveniently forget to mention the role sexism is playing in the aftermath. See him omit comment about his female friends when he talks about all the groups reporting abuse or those afraid to leave their homes in the past few days. In a world where a lot of us are looking for safety and support, photos of the future first lady meant to degrade her, meant to make her appear immoral or dirty or like a whore because she, at one time, was a model, are not safe, they are not supportive and they should not be welcome.

But then here’s the other thing. Female modeling, especially in the 1980s and 1990s when Melania was in the business, was about pleasing men. (I hope the industry has gotten better?) Do you think those photos of her were meant to make women want to buy something? No. So now we have a woman who was directed and photographed by men in order to please men being shit on by men for being a whore. Oh, okay. So it was okay when you liked it but now? Now somehow her having her photograph taken is some sort of moral flaw? Are you kidding? Melania was doing her job and, as far as I can tell, she was doing her job well. She has absolutely nothing to be ashamed of and we should not be using the fact that she took advantage of her height, kickass body and good looks to pay her bills as a way to demean her. There is nothing wrong with what she did.

So let’s get this right, friends. Do I think there has to be something wrong with Melania if she married that asshat? I sure do. I mean, gross. But also, who fucking cares. We have bigger fish to fry. We are looking at four years of Donald Trump, Mike Pence, Rudy Giuliani and an empowered GOP. They are going to fill a seat on the court and undo a lot of the good Obama did. The good he was forced to accomplish through executive order because our government is chock full of cry babies. We have a lot of work to do. And, as far as I am concerned, and sure, call me elitist, we have the moral high ground. We have a nominee who incredibly graciously conceded the presidency to a someone with absolutely no experience or relevant qualifications because, democracy. We have a sitting President who, despite his obvious dislike for the man, had a long conversation with him in the Oval Office and tried with the strength of his compassion and his conviction to make a pitch for the preservation of the Affordable Care Act. And we have at least some percentage of the population who wants social change, who wants equality, who wants safety, who wants equal opportunity for all. (Pst….thats us.) So let’s do this right. Stop slut shaming. And seriously, check yourselves. Language matters. Silence speaks volumes. Let’s all climb this hill alongside each other and let’s not shit on each other on the way up.

What is it that the First Lady said throughout Hillary’s campaign?

When they go low, we go high.

Go high, friends. Stop posting those photos. Stop shaming women, even if they do have terrible taste in husbands.

Ugh

15 Jun

As you can probably gather from the title, this is bound to be an especially well-written post.  So I apologize in advance if this is just a whole big page full of word vomit.

Have you ever had one of those days where you’re jut like, “ugh, everything is just stupid.”  Well I have.  And I did recently.  It was yesterday. I don’t know where exactly it came from but I was on a walk to visit a friend over in Ditmas Park where she was pulling pints at some event or another for some local New York City food truck vendor.  At least I think it was a food truck vendor.  They all have food trucks these days, right?  And actually, the event maybe wasn’t really for the vendor, the vendor was just included in it.  I don’t know, I didn’t really care about the vendor or the beer, to be honest, I just wanted an excuse to go for a long walk and see my friend.  So there I was, walking, listening to the same damn music I have been listening to on all my walks recently and it just hit me like a ton of bricks…

…everything right now is just sort of stupid.

And then I had this really strong urge to just punch a wall or something.  But not like, a hard wall, more like some sheet rock or something.  Or, better yet, maybe some sheet rock that has already been munched on by some termites, assuming termites even eat sheet rock, so it’s not really all that hard.  What I really wanted to do was punch a not-so-hard wall so I had the pleasure of feeling really tough when my hand came crashing through the other side but without the downside of (a) bloodying my knuckles, (b) punching the wall and not actually having my hand come through the other side or (c) some combination of a and b.  I actually thought about all that for a good five minutes.  And that, friends, is part of the reason why everything is stupid because rather than busying my mind with fun adventures, or like problem-solving or, I don’t know, coming up with some semblance of a plan for my life which is sort of a mess, I thought about the ideal way to punch a wall, or something resembling a wall, so that my hand would come through the other side and I would feel like a super hero.  I actually thought to myself…

…well, everything else might be stupid but the one thing that would not be stupid would be me punching my hand through a wall and not getting hurt.

And then I promptly thought…

…get it together, Frank.

Like, seriously.

So here are some of the things that are stupid:

(1) My cat, Clark, has now remembered how fun it is to knock things off the shelves and so last night, at around 2am, he took it upon himself to knock every single can of his food off the shelf, one by one.  Crash.  Crash.  Crash.

(2) The hand soap in the bathroom ran out so I decided to replace it with Dr. Bronner’s and now it sort of looks like someone peed in the soap dispenser which is both funny but also sort of unnerving.

(3) I need a vacuum.

(4) I had a conversation with my friend on the phone and we came to the conclusion that the economy sucks, that our field is a mess and I had a mini-panic attack that I am going to spend the rest of my life assembling storage racks in windowless rooms and avoiding getting stabbed with rusty nails while I break down crates for like $15 an hour.  It’s a long story.  The central message being that higher education is not all it’s cracked up to be.

(5) I wore my new sandals and ripped the top 4 layers of skin off my cute and tiny pinky toe.

There are lots of other stupid things that actually matter (well, number 4 matters and, actually a little bit number 2 also because urine in a soap dispenser…ew) but I don’t really want to write about them here because they are A Bigger Deal.  But suffice it to say that all the things that are stupid have brought me to the conclusion that I have been going about this whole life thing entirely incorrectly.  The whole thing, wrong approach this entire time and no one told me.  No one was like

Hey, Rebekah, I know you think you have it together but the thing is that you’re wrong and I just thought maybe you should know so you don’t continue on embarrassing yourself kind of like that one time when you went for a run and the string of your tampon was hanging out the bottom of your shorts.  Remember that?  Good times.

And then the other thing is this.  So I have been trying to amend my approach to things and sort of take the high road and as it turns out taking the high road sort of just sucks sometimes.  There’s no real satisfaction involved in the high road.  You have to be all, “well, this isn’t really worth me losing my cool over so I will just shrug my shoulders and sit over here and watch while you implode every so slowly.”  But the thing is that sometimes the implosion never happens, and the person goes through life sort of just being a dick and thinking they are right all the time and you have to know that they also think they are right vis-a-vis you and that one time (or maybe multiple times) they said something really sort of offensive and you knew if you called them out on it they would shrug their shoulders and then be all

whatever, bitches be crazy.

And I hate that.  It’s so…for lack of a better word, stupid.  And you know what else?  I really think I should be able to call dudes out on their misogyny without them then giving me the side eye and thinking I am a complete nut job.  Or like, I should be able to tell random dudes at bars that “accidentally” touching my leg 6 times is not okay when there is absolutely zero need for you to be standing that close to me in the first place without the fear that it will turn into A Thing and I will feel uncomfortable and like I did something wrong and that probably I should just leave.

And I just washed my hands with the pee soap again.  I really need to do something about that.

Okay, I am going to go for a run now in hopes that it will adjust the whole thing that is happening in my head.  Maybe I will come back from the run and realize that in actuality only like 50% of the things are stupid and that’s something I can maybe work with.  And then tomorrow maybe I will be back to writing about how the men’s rights movement is the most ridiculous movement I have ever heard of.  But not today.  Today is Father’s Day and so I will lay off doing the things that make my father worried about my safety.

Happy Father’s day to all the dad’s but especially to my dad, the second greatest dad in the world after King Tritan from The Little Mermaid.  That’s an old joke.  Don’t ask.

Doc Says…

20 May

Alright you guys, here’s the thing.  I am in a bit of a holding pattern at the moment which means that what is going on inside of my head right now is something akin to a hamster running round and round on her exercise wheel.  She isn’t getting anywhere, isn’t really doing anything, just sort of trying to pass the time in her little glass cage until she gets the opportunity to run around the room in one of those awesome plastic balls.  Remember those?  I had a hamster when I was little and I was always sort of afraid that one day I would put her in the ball and she would somehow escape my room and go rolling right down the stairs.  Then the ball would pop open right in front of my cat, Sassafras, and bye bye hamster.  Anyway, I digress.  It’s really not that bad.  The holding pattern, I mean.  I have been spending a lot of time in the garden with my mom and have been reading the New York Times from cover to cover almost everyday.  I am pretty up to speed on the Times view of the world and what they think is worthy of their precious space and what is not.  I read about El Nino today so that was sort of a blast from the past.

Anyway, none of this is to the point.  The point is that since I am in a holding pattern I have decided to publish a comment I got back in the day when all that bullshit was happening on my blogRemember all that bullshit?  Well, I sure do.  Anyway, I got the following comment (posted here in italics) on the post called “Rebekah vs. Rob, (Documented) Battle #2”  I have changed nothing about the comment, nor have I omitted anything, so any spelling or grammatical errors are not, for once, mine.  Just keep in mind that the non-italicized part is just me adding my trademark snark which I am sure that this individual, who calls himself “Doc,” would have a thing or two to say about.  If he hadn’t unfollowed my blog promptly after posting this comment that is.

I’ve been following your posts for a couple months now, since I was told there was a blog that detailed my local watering hole. I’m not a regular but I do come in with some frequency so it is fun for me to read the goings on and see if I can picture who it is you’re talking about. I must say I’ve noticed the tone of your posts has gotten very snarky and downright mean. Are you sure being a bartender is the right career for you? 🙂

I very much enjoyed his use of emoticon.  Nothing breaks up criticism like a good, old-fashioned smiley face!

Your recent post regarding “Hal” however has picqued my psychological background radar.

Ooh! Psychological background radar!  Do continue!  (Also, for the record, I have changed the alias “Hal” to the subject’s real name, Rob, after he sent me various mean emails from anonymous email accounts.  I figured if he wasn’t willing to put his name on his behavior, then I would.)

This is, if I’m reading correctly and if this person is who I think he is (and I’m fairly certain it is) now the 3rd post he’s been prominently featured in. I’m reminded of that old adage, “There’s a thin line between love and hate.” Your borderline obsession with this man leads me to believe that there is more to your feelings than blind hatred. Honestly, I think I know who he is, and he’s nowhere near as bad as you paint him to be.

Doc has got me there.  I think that Rob WAS featured in a fair amount of posts.  There was his appearance in Tip #12 after he snuck his own booze into the bar  and then there was the following visit when I told him I wouldn’t serve him and he stayed at the bar for hours afterwards, trying to get other people to buy him drinks, and also asking my coworker out when his fiance was sitting like 4 barstools down.  I can’t actually find the third one because I don’t keep an inventory of my blogs like some anonymous commenters seem to.

When he’s in the bar by himself or with one or two friends, I’ve had conversations with him and found him to be perfectly interesting and charming.

Here’s the thing that I have noticed about misogynists:  they tend to be perfectly nice-seeming to other men, who they view as their equals, but when it comes to their dealing with women it is a totally different ballgame.  I would like for “Doc” to be called a cunt, a word that I find extremely violent, by the same person on more than one occasion, and to have that person attempt to physically intimidate him at his workplace, and then tell me dude is “perfectly interesting and charming.”  Just sayin’.

I have seen him act loud and start chants etc., but usually only when he was with a large group of men, and really, isn’t that how most men in a large group at a bar act?

I hate to break it to you but no, that is not how most men in large groups in bars act.

He’s nowhere near the devil you make him out to be. And you lose all credibility when you say he’s unattractive. He is, objectively, a very good looking man.

Personally, I think that levels of attractiveness are more a subjective, than objective, thing.  For example, Adam Levine was voted People Magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive in 2013 and I sort of think he looks like a ferret.  And I do not like ferrets.  Also, what does my taste in men have to do with my credibility?  Nothing, that’s what.

In reading your posts about him, I notice the following keywords pop out at me when you’re writing of him: Wit, good looks, intellect, excellence, sexiest, awesome-est. All words used by you in your posts. Granted you’ll reply that this is how he thinks of himself, but it’s interesting how one’s psyche projects itself. Could it be that deep down you really have feelings for this man?

This, friends, is the result of pop-psychology 101.  I would very much like access to this person’s reading list.

This may be something you want to confront within, because otherwise your anger is irrational and concerns me.

I LOVE CONCERN TROLLING!

I’m sure that if you choose to reply you’ll merely launch into more vitriol, but to that I would merely reply, “Me thinks the lady doth protest too much” 🙂

Shakespeare quotes give everything validity! Also, emoticons!

And if he is who I think he is, wasn’t he involved with your good friend and boss for a while there? I could have sworn I saw them in an embrace more than a time or two. Cue the Gin Blossoms: Hey Jealousy….

Blog comments now come complete with soundtrack from the late 80s.

That’s the end of my comment analysis.  The thing is that I would have discussed this comment with the commenter had I known who he was but, of course, anonymous email addresses.  I wonder what his pop-psychology books have to say about that.  “This individual thinks his opinion is necessary but is not confident enough in himself as a critic to stand behind his words.  He is afraid of the social fallout associated with publicly, and confidently, airing his complaints.”

And, now I can send that comment into the trash where it belongs.  And this, friends, is the beauty of having your very own blog!  You can publish, and trash, comments as you see fit!  No democracy here!  This is a Rebekah-ocracy and thank goodness for that.

When is it safe to be outspoken?

16 Jul

I.

This past weekend I had one of those experiences that goes into the negative column of my pluses and minuses analysis of being a bartender in New York City.  It was my second night working until 4am in a row and, if you know me, you know I am not at my best on little sleep.  Around 9:30pm, about 1.5 hours into my 8 hour shift, these two guys walk in.  One of them orders a vodka soda, the other an orange juice.  I serve them and go about my business.  Every time I look over, the one with the alcoholic beverage is looking at me expectantly, despite the fact that his drink is almost full.  I walk over to see what he wants (a glass of water, perhaps?) and he looks me up and down and says, in a thick Russian accent while simultaneously miming squeezing someone’s ass cheeks,

Those shorts look nice but they could be tighter.

Cue Rebekah’s Blind Rage.  I do a few quick deep-breathing exercises, turn to the asshole sitting across the bar from me and say

Yea, this isn’t going to go like that.  Mind your manners or leave.

I continue doing my job, hoping that the many shades of anger have drained from my cheeks.  Whenever I look up, however, the man is still staring and I vaguely hear him asking me questions.  Do I work out?  What’s my name?  Where do I hang out?  Okay, that is it. I grab the man’s credit card from where I had placed it behind me, run it through the machine, and slap his card and receipt down in front of him.  He gently takes it, signs it, and pushes it back towards me.  Good, I think, he got it.  But that would be too easy.

Can I get another drink?

No.  There are plenty of other bars around here that you can go to but, just a word to the wise… keep your opinions about your bartender’s wardrobe to yourself if you want to be welcome anywhere for more than 5 minutes.

And then the fun really begins.  He stares across the bar at me with this awful little smirk on his face, arms folded in front of him while his friend looks on with knowing silence.  Clearly this wasn’t his first rodeo.  I stand there, staring back, blood pressure rising.  I tell him to leave, he seems to think his comment was completely acceptable.  I get more and more annoyed.  He isn’t going anywhere and I’ve decided neither am I.  I am fully aware that as long as I am standing in front of him, he is going to try and stay in control of the situation but I just can’t allow it to happen.  I have to prove a point, even though I know the point will be completely drowned in his misogyny.  He tells me I am harassing him.  Clearly he needs a dictionary.  Finally, I’ve had it and I say, calmly with my arm pointing towards the exit,

Get the fuck out of my bar.

And, all hell breaks loose.

What did you say to me?  You wouldn’t say that to me on the street, bitch!

I absolutely would, actually.

You whore!  I will kill you!  When I see you out of here I will fucking kill you!  I will knock you down and spill your blood on the street!*

At this point, standing up to achieve the highest possible level of intimidation and still yelling his head off, his accent getting thicker with each spat threat, he reaches a pointed finger across the bar and, unintentionally I think, pokes me violently in the bottom lip.  His face registers just the tiniest bit of shock and he turns on his heel and walks out of the bar, friend silently following behind.  My anger goes through the roof.  I storm down the length of the bar, and out the front door, screaming at him as he retreats down the street.  Some friends and regulars of the bar, looking an even mixture of confused and concerned, pursue the man down the street and I retreat to the office to catch my breath, leaving the fate of the bar to my bar back who was of relatively little help during the whole altercation.  My boss and I check the business name on the card, a garbage and carting business.  Great.  As usual I get into it with the wrong guy.

*This is not a word-for-word quotation but I’m pretty sure I got all the key phrases down.

II.

There was, of course, the inevitable moment when I retraced the build-up to the blow-out, thought about all the things I did and what I could have done differently.  Did I overreact?  Should I have just ignored him?  Could the whole thing have been completely avoided?  Could I have calmed this man down rather than riling him up?  The list of questions amassed, relating to ways that I, the victim of sexism, verbal abuse and assault had actually been the instigator.  How classic.  This then led me, the next day, to a downward-thought spiral about what it means to be female.  It means that, to many, my body is public property there to be ogled, critiqued and touched.  It means I have to think about when it is safe for me to stand up for myself and when it is best to put my head down and walk faster.  It means that, as much as I disagree with this, I feel compelled to contemplate my outfit before I leave the house lest it lead to additional attention that I don’t want, am not looking for, did not ask for.  I know that me calling this man out on his behavior was not the most productive use of my time, anger, righteousness, but behind the bar, for the most part, I am safe and, for once, powerful.  I have something that he wants and cannot just take.

On the other side, though, his over-sized reaction got me thinking about issues of power, powerlessness and safety.  I know what my capacity for violence and reaction is.  I can assume where that line lies for most of the people I come across but there are some, mostly male, oftentimes white, who have never had their privilege questioned by someone they see as lesser than they whose actions I cannot predict.  It was at that moment when I realized I was not safe.  As a woman, I am not safe.  The power dynamic between genders that flourishes, oftentimes unchallenged, in everyday life is one that puts me at an express disadvantage.  I am worth less, I have less ownership of my body and because of these things it is my responsibility to pick my battles wisely because, in asserting my own equality, in demanding respect, my body can easily become the battleground and that is a battle that, sadly, I would lose.

I do not regret what I did and, if placed in the same situation tomorrow, I would handle it the same way.  But I will take the experience as a teaching moment in which I got a glimpse into the depth of violent anger possessed by, and uncontrolled by, someone else.  It’s a scary thing to face.  I was (relatively) safe where I stood and I had plenty of people there to back me up.  But if I came up against that guy on the street, alone, and hurled my favorite choice words in response to his degrading comments, I might not have been so lucky.  It’s an unfortunate reality.  What we as women face is not only violent language, it’s violent actions and in the latter case we are largely disadvantaged, we will oftentimes lose.  It’s something to keep in mind.  For me, for all of us.