Thursday, March 21, 2013

Sexism Sucks (Like a Woman With a Lollipop)

tw: sexual harassment 

I had to go to the bank today because last week my account was overdrawn.  I'm poor as fuck, lest you forget.  I frequently get low balance alerts but I usually manage to scrape enough together to make a deposit before it gets overdrawn, so this was something I didn't know how to deal with.  

When I got to the bank, I decided to talk to a consultant or something instead of going up to a teller, to make sure I straightened everything out at once.  While I waited for the only person on the floor to become available, I helped myself to one of the lollipops in the dish because
1.       I was nervous about my financial situation and this would give me something to fidget with
2.       it gave me something to play with while I waited for her to attend to me
3.       it contained sugar and that shit's yummy

This turned out to be a big fucking error in judgment.  My house is not really that far from the bank, but every set of eyes that lingered on me in that short walk made it seem longer and longer.

I am used to a certain amount of street harassment.  It doesn't mean I like it.  It doesn't mean I invite it- even if I'm sucking on a lollipop. No, seriously.  That shit has nothing to do with you, the pedestrian walking past me.  But a woman can't just walk from point A to point B.  A woman with a lollipop in her mouth is clearly asking for it, right?  WRONG!

Has it ever occurred to you that a woman with a lollipop could possibly be nothing more than a person enjoying a piece of fucking candy?  Like, I don't think I would've gotten half the bullshit I endured had I been eating M+Ms.  But no, because it was a lollipop, it made you imagine me sucking your dick.  Fine.  I don't really care.  That's your own business.  I know I'm hot, I know lollipops are incredibly sexualized.  The part where your little private enjoyment of the 5 seconds it takes for us to cross paths becomes my problem is when you vocalize that shit and I have to hear you. 

I had a few guys whisper some shit to me in the first few blocks from the bank.  Concise, one-word comments that I tried to brush off and act like I didn't hear.  But then came the one that made me snap.

A group of middle-aged White dudes were clustered in front of an apartment building.  I crossed over to their side of the street to avoid the Firehouse entrance on my side.  As I approached them I told myself to relax because they were in a circle, facing each other, and looked far too engaged in their own conversation to say or do anything.  I wasn't even making eye contact with any of them.  And then I heard one of them say to the rest

"...sucking that lollipop real good!"
I was fed up at this point with pretending I hadn't heard shit.  I immediately whipped around and shouted angrily "I can hear you, you know!!" and, without waiting for a response or even seeing their faces, turned back around and kept walking.  Just as I began to lament not calling them assholes or walking up to really confront them, I heard one of them whine to one of the others "She heard you say that."  It wasn't congratulatory or celebratory or proud.  It was the whiny voice of a child who is getting in trouble for something their friend made them do.  And these men were grown.

I imagine they hold down jobs and have families and have people who look up to and respect them.  The fact that these grown-ass men, some of them with white hair, could feel perfectly comfortable hypersexualizing a woman walking past them on the street, and then crumble so completely when they are confronted about their little joke, is just one of a hundred billion reasons why sexism is still a problem we are dealing with.  

But happy Women's History Month. 

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