This is a rant.
It is by no means what I wanted to be my first blog back since a necessary hiatus for school. It is not what I wanted to be doing right now. My finals are on Tuesday. I need to study. But even after I stripped off my work clothes, slipped into my comfy pj’s, and curled up on the couch in the family room, I still found myself so full of GAH!!! that I had to write this.
Privilege, to some, is a dirty word. I don’t like getting into conversations about privilege because they always get sidetracked, or people get offended, or for any number of reasons why it is a sticky subject I’d rather not get caught on.
But my day, all six hours of it thus far, has been dripping with the kind of male privilege and misogyny and oh-my-god-I-hate-the-world that life can only bring when you least expect it.
It started when I was leaning against a wall before my 8am gig. It was 7:48am, and, though I could hear the rumble of people in the truck, I had no urge to help unload before I was on the clock. I don’t work for free.
So I was dicking around on my phone, reading my Twitter timeline, trying to not be tired even though I’d only gotten 4.5hrs of sleep. Then one of the truck drivers tried to start a conversation with me. Mind you, I was ten to fifteen feet away engrossed in my smart phone. One would think body language alone would be a clue that I didn’t want anything to do with anyone for the next eleven minutes. I gave one and two word responses, never looking up from my phone, and he thankfully took the hint.
Ten minutes later, I pulled out my work gloves. The second truck driver, who did chat with the first driver, noted as I was getting ready that someone had said good morning gentlemen, so they must not have noticed me.
“Whatever. I’m usually the only woman, or maybe one of two, on a crew. I honestly don’t care.”
And I didn’t. I wanted to get the job done and go home. I was tired and annoyed and knew that if anyone else tried to talk to me I would probably snap at them. I get very bitchy when I’m tired.
So we got the gear inside and started working. As I suspected, I was in fact the only woman on my crew; no big deal.
We got about half the gear setup when I noticed two senior guys on the crew chatting. And then I heard the crux of what they were going back and forth about. And I just had to laugh.
I knew both guys from other gigs and liked both guys, but they were pretty much opposite ends of the political spectrum. My gig was in DC, so their talk had shifted into politics. One was spewing one side’s talking points, the other was countering with his side’s views, and then the two came to a moderate middle ground.
I chuckled as I caught a sentence fragment here or there because all I could think of was how ridiculous it seemed to me. Two better-off-then-most white men coming to a compromise on political views, yet I knew they would probably never get to the heart of so many economical, political, and social woes other people who don’t look like them face every day. The white male well-off privilege in that moment was so ridiculous I had to giggle, or else I’d scream. And my bank account would not have appreciated the screaming.
Later on, as we were close to finishing up, I helped some guys with a simple project. I don’t know how or why it happened, because I wasn’t paying attention to their chit-chat, but some guy offhandly said something to the effect of, “Who doesn’t like girls kissing? I love lesbians. Don’t all women love lesbians?” Thankfully his comments were not directed towards me. I rolled my eyes and kept working.
We finished up soon after that. I was happy to be done early.
I walked to my Metro stop and took my spot on the platform, waiting for my train.
“Excuse me, Miss.” A young guy about ten feet away from me was trying to talk to me. “Hi, I… Why did you scrinch up your face like that?”
“When I’m on the Metro, I feel like I’m in my own little bubble, so I don’t talk to people.”
“Well, I just wanted to say your beautiful, and could I have your number?”
“Thank you, that’s very sweet, and I appreciate your asking, but I have no interest right now, so I’m going to have to say no.”
“Well, how could I go about getting your number?”
“Um, I usually meet people through my friends and at social gatherings they set up, so I don’t meet people randomly in public.”
“Well how am I, oh what’s your name?”
“I don’t feel comfortable giving my name to someone I just met on the Metro.”
“Well how is someone suppose to meet you or get to know you if you put up these walls?”
“I get that, but I don’t feel comfortable right now, so thank you for the offer, but no.”
I walked about twenty feet down the platform, putting about ten people between us.
It would have been fine if he had stopped after the first try. If he had just said, “Oh, okay” after I gave my no. But he didn’t. He pushed. And kept pushing. And even though there were at least one hundred people on that platform, I did not feel safe with only ten feet between us.
I know logically he probably would not have done anything, but that made me no less rattled. I tried to study for my Bio final, but even after I’d gotten on the train on a different car than his, I found myself worried that he would reappear and try his advance again. Or maybe do something more than talk.
This is not the blog I wanted to write. I wanted to wait until Tuesday evening after finals when I knew I had time and brain space to write something sexy or fun. A girl in a dress has been dancing around my mind lately. But instead that was my half day. And now all I want to do is yell at someone, or cry while I punch a pillow, or curl up on my couch and watch Young Justice cartoons while eating Chinese delivery. That last options is probably going to happen after I hit post.
The past thousand words is a skewed perspective. There were other guys today who were nice to me in the non-creepiest of ways. One guy offered me a cookie during our break. Another guy and I enjoyed chatting randomly about cars. I actually enjoy working with the white guys from the political conversation, even as I wonder if they will ever understand what I go through every day. It’s hard for the nice moments to stick when the shitty ones have such a strong effect.
I work in an industry and live in a country where a black female is expected to be many things. But I refuse to placate some desired male ego for “them digits” or to smile because you tell me to or to be timid and pleasing because that’s how you think I should be.
When I’m tired, I’m bitchy. Deal with it.
No, I do not enjoy seeing drunk girls kiss. In fact, it annoys me and kind of offends me.
And no, I am not going to give my phone number to some random because he asked for it, especially not when he makes me regret having put my knife in my backpack instead of in my pocket.
Categorised as: Rant
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