Monday, August 12, 2013

on my weekend as a woman.

this past weekend, brian went out of town for vacation with his family and i stayed behind, seeing as i don't have enough vacation time to do both that and a honeymoon. i know, rough life.  yet, as someone who lived on her own for six years and loves her lady friends, i'm not going to lie and say i wasn't just a wee, tiny bit excited to be on my own (the novelty wears off after one day but still, it's the truth). naturally, tina and i did what any self-respecting new yorker would do and we headed to the burbs to shop at the mall and eat at cheesecake factory. to those of you that live in the burbs, you might think this is the dumbest thing you have ever heard. if you have lived in new york for years, you might be sighing wistfully - those are the people that get me. we had a great girls day - we shopped, we ended our afternoon with a glass of wine, we brought back large pieces of cake to the city for dessert and ordered in sushi as we watched episode after episode of sex and the city. i mean, we hit everything on the checklist of benefits to being woman in one day. and it was delightful.
***
the next day, after going to a morning gym class, i wandered into bed, bath and beyond. while i knew what i wanted, as often happens when one is in a store with approximately 2,000 kitchen items, i browsed around. it was a slow sunday in the summer, i had nowhere to be, just wandering around for a bit before i went back home to finish up some projects due at work this week. as i was contemplating the fifty cutting boards in front of me, a man complimented my work-out gear. you know, bonding over under armor.
right.
so after exchanging awkward pleasantries i wandered off into another part of the store. after two minutes he appeared at the end of my aisle, and i pretended not to notice until i needed to get past him. oh, you again! how funny! and naturally as, i passed him, he lost his footing and brushed against me, if you know what i mean (and if you're a woman reading this, you definitely know what i mean). i rushed off to the fine china section and within another two minutes he had sidled up next to me to check out various china storage options. because what young, single man is his 20's isn't worried about how he is storing his fine china. as i walked over to sales associate, to simply ask them to talk to me for a bit because another customer was making me feel uncomfortable, a part of me inside boiled over. i hate being a woman sometimes. i hate it with every inch and fiber in my body. i innocently wanted to wander around store, unbothered, and now i was darting from department to department trying to avoid unwanted attention. brian does not have people follow him when he shops. brian does not have strange women brushing against him. brian does not feel physically threatened by the opposite sex. and sometimes i just hate it. sometimes i just wish i was a man.
***
this past week in new york a news story ran about a guy, singing on the subway for money, and threatening to kiss a fellow passenger if people didn't receive his music well. threatening in that funny way, but also kind of awkward way where you're like...wait, is this guy seriously going to kiss this woman? and before he finished the song, as the video of a fellow passenger shows, the woman he threatened to kiss bolts off the train at the next stop. a comment on this news article was from a man, stating that it made him realize how he just could not relate to women at all. he wondered - what is it like for someone to just announce to strangers they're going to kiss you? the commenter explained how he never has had someone made him feel uncomfortable about what he wears, or what he looks like, or felt sexually threatened. the experience of a woman, as portrayed through this video, to him was so far beyond anything he had ever experienced. and reading his comment stopped me in my tracks a bit. when i read the story i was thought to myself: yeah, and... what woman amongst us hasn't had a strange man make her feel uncomfortable and nervous and like she needs to leave a situation? and his comment made me realize how utterly wrong and absurd that is. and yet i don't see it changing anytime soon. gender and biology and things ingrained into our dna thousands of years ago are not just habits we break.
***
of course all of this complaining is nothing compared to the truly disturbing acts against women. i'm not the high school girl gang raped in her school yard after a dance and left to die under a picnic table. i'm not the 16-year-old girl raped on top of a brooklyn brownstone and, when my attacker is finished, thrown off the four-story roof onto the pavement below. i'm not the central park jogger, brutally gang raped and beaten and left to die in a bush during an evening run. but that's what it is to be a woman. it's why we're told to carry mace, and rape whistles, and look over our shoulder, and not wear skirts too short at night and not walk down dark streets alone. in every city i've ever lived i've known where the hotel nearest to my apartment is located, in case i'm ever followed home or feel unsafe. the way i figure, a hotel lobby always has someone in it who can help you, is well-lit, and there's clear access to a telephone to call the police. most people won't follow you in.
i guarantee you none of my male friends has ever had that thought cross their mind. ever.
***
most times, i am delighted to be a woman. i revel in it, i think we got the better end of the deal, and i think it is a privledge. but i often wonder what it's like to be man. i often think it's easier, right or wrong. sometimes at work i pine to be a man. as i debate whether or not to have children, i wish i could be on the other side. where having a baby doesn't mean sacrificing your body or years of your career.
mostly, yes, i'm happy to be a woman. but it's funny how a stupid, silly incident in a store can just make the anger flow out of you. one tiny incident can just make you so fed up with the whole thing. i calmed down as the day went on, came home and did my work, ended my day with a glass of wine, an episode of the real housewives of new jersey (no shame!), and some leftover cake. and, of course, i've blogged my thoughts. to a community of other women who support me, listen to me, and tell it like it is. it's one of those things that makes it feel like being a woman is a privilege, and it's something to remind me to never give up, and to keep fighting the good fight, no matter how steep the road may be. and no matter if that road rises to meet you, sometimes, in a home goods store.

4 comments:

  1. Fully agree with this one. Being a woman is quite the enigma - I both love it and hate it. I often think, "why do I have to be a woman?" and probably equally just as much I think, "why do I get to be a woman?"

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  2. I know exactly how you feel and it blows my mind that men just have no idea what kind of nonsense we deal with. I had a similar situation happen in an Anthropologie store not too long ago. I just wandered in to browse while killing some time and some random guy came up and started talking to me about finding a gift for his "girlfriend" who's style was apparently just like mine (what a coincidence!). At first, I gave my opinion on the sweater he was asking about but that seemed to open the door for him to admit he just recently broke up with his gf and went into all the weird sex issues they had. He started following me around the store and would not leave me alone, even when I went to talk to one of the sales ladies. I darted out of the store when he happened to turn away at one point and ran across the street to the three-story Forever 21 with the security guard at the front door. I figured he wouldn't find me in there and if he did, I'd tell the security guard. An afternoon at Anthro ruined by a creepy stranger treating me in a completely inappropriate way simply because I was a woman. Little things like that are not nearly as much of a violation as rape or abuse but it still requires the type of day-to-day awareness that men will just never understand.

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  3. ugh. the man in Bed, Bath, & Beyond makes me sick. I know how those situations feel, and I strongly dislike the men that make us women in those situations feel like we need to flee and get out of there. I hate those aspects of being a woman - knowing I have the ability to feel threatened by a situation/person, feeling the need for protection, not feeling completely secure when I'm out and about at night. So many other things about being a woman are, as you said, wonderful, but what you've described above is certainly not.

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