Today I stood up to a random stranger for myself and for women everywhere, but mostly for myself. Ok, it was entirely for myself.
In that moment, I stood my ground, looked that jackass in the eye and said exactly what I wanted to say. (Normally without anger what my mouth ejects is some golem that at best vaguely resembles what I intended.) And I was Diana, Mother Flipping Princess of the Amazons. Bow before my angry feminist might, you skeevy jackass who thought I’d just accept his verbal advances!
See, I have another article half-written for today about Comic-Con exclusives, and I’ll probably post it tomorrow. But this never happens to me – the saying what I mean to say. Even if it was just the phenomenon of me saying what I wanted to say, how I wanted to say it, when I wanted to say it; I would be compelled to write about it.
Today, a little low on blood after a blood draw, I decided I deserved a slice and a pop. I wandered around the corner to the pizza place. On the way there, a large man looked me up and down lasciviously and said, “Hey, sexy.” And continued on his way. Maybe he thought it was a compliment. Maybe he thought that it was his right as a man on the street. Maybe I don’t give a shit what he thought because in that moment, low on blood and hungry for a $2 slice of cheese pizza, I snapped.
I had had it. I was tired of being catcalled on the street because I happened to be guilty of being a Woman While Walking. In sweats, in jeans, in a slouchy dress in 90+ degree heat, they sidle up to you, just too close for comfort and insinuate themselves into your errand. I was tired of having to keep my eyes locked forward in my own neighborhood. I was tired of fixing my face into a haughty mask any time I walked without Mike by my side. I was sick of it.
And he happened to be there. And I happened to be ready to ovary up and be a woman.
And so I whipped around. I never thought people outside of trashy romance novels actually whipped about, but I have now done it. It’s an action that can be done. I took my spindly pointer finger and jammed it in his face. My mouth opened and everything I’d wanted to say to those countless misogynists on the street flooded out in a brief, too loud tirade.
“No! No! That is not how you talk to a woman you do not know!”
I then calmly turned heel and continued to the pizza parlor.
I shouted at him. I shouted at every man who made me reassess what I had worn to pick up dinner at the butcher shop. I shouted at every man who locked eyes with me and licked his lips, trying to make me feel uncomfortable and succeeded.
I shouted at myself because my first thought after he harassed me was, “I don’t look sexy today. I don’t have makeup on or my contacts in. My hair is a mess. I’m not inviting this kind of attention.” And that just sucked because unless you’re a star of a “Girls with Low Self-Esteem” video, no one really invites that kind of attention.
The entire time I was in the pizza shop waiting for my slice to warm I wondered if he would follow me in. When I left, I saw him pacing across the street – the opposite direction he had been walking in. I took a roundabout way home so, on the off chance he was looking to continue our discussion, he couldn’t find me.
So, it was really a victory and a loss.
I got a chance to stand up for myself, and I am flipping jacked over it. But I am also acutely aware how vulnerable I am when I stand up for myself without Mike nearby to back me up physically. But the important part are the spangled leggings and gold diadem pulled on today, and they fit just fine. I don’t think I will take them off anytime soon.
I am my own powerful Amazon Princess of Themyscira who can take down weak jerks who would reduce me to a fetish object on the street with a jab of my finger. Those who would try to lessen me to inflate themselves should know that I don’t give a damn about being polite any more. I don’t care about being demure or coy. I am done reacting how I have been socialized to respond to negative male attention. I am done and you are on notice.
I am imposing. I am bracing. I am a fierce creature, a honey badger of upstate New York. I am the Wonder Woman of Albany.