So, today was a bad day for my biggest pet peeve. Two people called me “Christine.” One immediately after I’d introduced myself as “Chris,” and the other was reading from my business card.
A. THERE IS AN A. Chris-tin-A.
I will never understand why everyone, from perfect strangers to my father in law, thinks I’m a Christine. Do I look like a Christine? I mean, it’s a perfectly fine name. It’s just not MY name.
I feel like five thousand years from now no one will be really sure whether Kanye West really existed and he’ll be remembered as some kind of trickster god.
Here’s where the “but it’s just a compliment” thing falls apart: I have dudes complimenting me all the time in a way that isn’t skeezy and harassing.
My hair is hot pink. Every day I step out my front door, someone tells me my hair is awesome. This person is usually a man, though occasionally it’s someone’s adorable grandma, too. This is not harassment.
I have even had men compliment me more generally on my appearance in a way that didn’t feel gross. Last week, a man walked by me and politely said “hello miss, you are very pretty. I hope you have a nice day.” And then he kept on walking. It was clear to me that he was not trying to corner me into giving him my attention or time. He wanted to pay me a compliment and move along. So I smiled back at him and told him to have a nice day, as well. And I went along on my business. I felt pretty good about the whole situation.
So to the people out there who say “but it’s just a compliment!” when a guy starts out with “hey sexy” or by creeping up on me in his truck, BULL FUCKING SHIT.
There is a humongous difference between genuinely complimenting someone and objectifying someone. Period.
Once I was acknowledged by two different strangers in the same day.
Stranger 1: I love your tights! That is such a cute look!
Stranger 2: Holy shit LEGS! Where the fuck have you been all my life?!
If you can’t tell which comment made me smile like an idiot and which one compelled me to run the rest of the way home, please take the time to educate yourself before being reintroduced to society.
Today, I decided to walk home from work. It’s only a mile from there to my front door, and it would take me longer to get home if I decided to wait for the erratic bus that travels most of the way. My husband was in the ER this morning. I wanted to get home.
Today, it seems, assholes were also out in full force. About halfway up Old Court Road (a fairly busy road), I notice a black 4x4 pickup with tinted windows just sitting in the middle of the road. Cars are moving out of the lane to get around it. I assume it’s a disabled vehicle, but something just doesn’t seem right. Sure enough, as soon as I pass, the window rolls down and the “hey sweetheart” shit starts.
To preface: my boss keeps the place arctic. Therefore, I am wearing jeans, big stompy boots, and a long sleeved cardigan buttoned all the way up when I encounter this douchebag (not that it should matter, of course). Cars are whooshing by, so I can’t clearly make out much of what else follows, thankfully. I just keep walking, eyes ahead. He starts creeping up on me with his truck, still trying to get my attention. This is not the first time this sort of thing has happened. After about a block, he gives up and drives off with an angry shout. I cross the street, in case he’s only turned off on the next side street to holler some more.
I ponder what would have happened had I pulled out my camera to take a picture of his license plate. It’s always a calculated risk, when stuff like this happens. You don’t know who’s just a run of the mill asshole and who will follow you home and hurt you with more than just words. I have had cars follow me home before. I have had guys harass me until the honking of cars bottlenecked up behind them forced them to move on. I often carry a military-grade retractable baton that my brother gave me precisely because you just never know. Sometimes I bring some things to work on in my downtime because then I have the option of carrying a hammer or a heavy steel mandrel. In the suburbs. In full sun.
Before I can finish pondering this, a bus honks at me. A fucking bus. Probably the same bus driver who actually pulled over to ask for my number last month.
By the time I get to the 7-11 at the corner of Old Court and my street, I am damn near shaking with anger. So it’s the perfect time for dude #3 in his silver PT Cruiser to pull up along side me and start, again, with “hey sweetheart, can I talk to you?”
“No,” I grunt at him, and keep walking. I must look really fucking pissed, because he rolls his window back up and does a U turn.
One mile. One. fucking. mile.
I fucking hate those men. I fucking hate the smug privilege they have. I fucking hate that I can’t tell the average asshole from the potential rapist. I hate that they use their cars and buses to intimidate women walking alone under the guise of flattery. I fucking hate that it happens nearly every time I leave the house without my husband at my side.
I hate them. And if any dude out there pulls his fucking car up alongside women walking alone for any other reason than to genuinely ask for directions or ask for emergency aid, then I fucking hate them, too.
A List of “Men’s Rights” Issues That Feminism Is Already Working On
Feminists do not want you to lose custody of your children. The assumption that women are naturally better caregivers is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not like commercials in which bumbling dads mess up the laundry and competent wives have to bustle in and fix it. The assumption that women are naturally better housekeepers is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to have to make alimony payments. Alimony is set up to combat the fact that women have been historically expected to prioritize domestic duties over professional goals, thus minimizing their earning potential if their “traditional” marriages end. The assumption that wives should make babies instead of money is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want anyone to get raped in prison. Permissiveness and jokes about prison rape are part of rape culture, which is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want anyone to be falsely accused of rape. False rape accusations discredit rape victims, which reinforces rape culture, which is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to be lonely and we do not hate “nice guys.” The idea that certain people are inherently more valuable than other people because of superficial physical attributes is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to have to pay for dinner. We want the opportunity to achieve financial success on par with men in any field we choose (and are qualified for), and the fact that we currently don’t is part of patriarchy. The idea that men should coddle and provide for women, and/or purchase their affections in romantic contexts, is condescending and damaging and part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to be maimed or killed in industrial accidents, or toil in coal mines while we do cushy secretarial work and various yarn-themed activities. The fact that women have long been shut out of dangerous industrial jobs (by men, by the way) is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to commit suicide. Any pressures and expectations that lower the quality of life of either gender are part of patriarchy. The fact that depression is characterized as an effeminate weakness, making men less likely to seek treatment, is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to be viewed with suspicion when you take your child to the park (men frequently insist that this is a serious issue, so I will take them at their word). The assumption that men are insatiable sexual animals, combined with the idea that it’s unnatural for men to care for children, is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want you to be drafted and then die in a war while we stay home and iron stuff. The idea that women are too weak to fight or too delicate to function in a military setting is part of patriarchy.
Feminists do not want women to escape prosecution on legitimate domestic violence charges, nor do we want men to be ridiculed for being raped or abused. The idea that women are naturally gentle and compliant and that victimhood is inherently feminine is part of patriarchy.
Feminists hate patriarchy. We do not hate you.
If you really care about those issues as passionately as you say you do, you should be thanking feminists, because feminism is a social movement actively dedicated to dismantling every single one of them. The fact that you blame feminists—your allies—for problems against which they have been struggling for decades suggests that supporting men isn’t nearly as important to you as resenting women. We care about your problems a lot. Could you try caring about ours?