Thursday, July 08, 2004

hey baby

i was walking to the parking garage yesterday evening after work, minding my own business, looking forward to getting home at a decent hour and continuing to catch up on this season of "the sopranos" on videotape. the street was fairly empty except for a homeless guy and his cart piled in a sad, raggy lump near the driveway into the lot. i deliberately stayed on the museum side of the street so i could cross directly into the lot and not have to walk past him. i didn't feel he was a threat; he didn't even look to be awake. i was just in one of my many moods of not wanting to make any human contact at all. (ah, yes, ms. anthropy in the big city...)

as i stepped across the narrow grass strip b/w the sidewalk and the street to cross into the parking lot, a younger man rode past me on his bicycle and suddenly stopped about a car length ahead of me. he had a backpack and a backward baseball cap on, and carried a small disposable kodak camera. i didn't look at him. i kept walking to cross the street. he walked up to me as i was on my way and said, "hey, baby, i just wanna tell you you have a great look..."

i put my hand up and waved it at him dismissively. i said, "no, no, no, i don't want to hear it. i don't care. whatever." and i kept walking past him. he snapped, "yeah, that's right -- nobody can take a compliment these days."

normally i would not have engaged him, but this remark made me see red. i turned and snapped back, "i don't have to take your fucking compliment." he was moving toward the homeless man with his camera, but he was still talking to me -- yelling now -- and he was saying something about me being afraid. he said, "yeah, be afraid, baby, be afraid." now i was really pissed. "i'm not afraid of you, you fucking asshole," i screamed.

i totally lost it. i was so angry that this jerk walked up to me on the street, called me "baby" ("baby"!!), and then he took offense when i shut him down. and, further, that he made it into a whole "what is the world coming to?" kind of issue -- that i "couldn't" take his "compliment" b/c i was afraid of him, a strange male. the truth was, i wouldn't take his "compliment" b/c i did not want to. i get approached by men a lot. each one has some line he clearly thinks is soooo clever and cute, and, being a man, he thinks nothing of blurting it out. it doesn't seem to even occur to them that a woman wouldn't want to hear their bullshit. well, i don't want to fucking hear it. i am fucking sick of it.

his response to my heated denial that i was afraid of him? "eat me, bitch." oh, i see. first, i'm a vision of loveliness walking down the street, so irresistible you have to tell me. less than 45 seconds later, i am a bitch. fuck you, asshole. from there it degenerated further into an obscenity-laced screaming match that got louder, as i kept walking to my car the whole time, and he stayed where he was on the street. i wasn't afraid at all, not of him hurting me, at least. i wanted to kill him, and i mean kill him dead. i didn't go anywhere near him b/c i was actually afraid i would attack him in my utterly blind fury. i wanted to bash his head against the sidewalk until blood ran in rivers. instead i got into my car, still screaming in absolute anger. i hoped to see him on the street so i could run him down like a dog, but he wasn't there when i pulled out. which, obviously, was a good thing, although i was disappointed at the time.

i am sure some people will say that to berate a stranger for being an offensive idiot wasn't too smart. you never know what folks will do. agent oosoul himself said i should have just walked away. (i pointed out that i had.) and i am sure many people would say that to terminate a dumbass remark with such extreme prejudice is, if nothing else, more likely to burn me out than to change the mind of such a creature as mr. backwards-baseball-cap biker. i don't care. i'm tired of letting such stupidity pass without comment. and i am beginning to believe that men like him need to hear "no" a lot more fucking often than they do.

the patriarchy has bestowed upon men the sense, not only that women are first and foremost brightly colored ornaments for their amusement, but also that they have an inalienable right to address any female they choose as if she were nothing more than a potential vehicle for their enjoyment, to look at or to touch, whether she wants to be oogled or pawed, or not. ("you hold her down, and i'll nail her," as the saying goes ... quoted in the brilliantly sarcastic 1994-ish song "hey baby," by chia pet -- which does a much better job than i am currently doing of encapsulating the ordinary horror and absolute frustration of being a woman attempting to walk unmolested from point A to point B on anystreet, usa.) i have had enough of this mentality. the truth is, i am a person walking down the street. i am not some little flower waiting to be plucked or admired. my "look" is crafted for my enjoyment, not for the pleasure of anyone else. i dress how i dress and present myself the way i do for my own reasons and satisfaction, not for the satisfaction of anyone else. i am not putting myself on display for your shopping needs. i do not wish to be "noticed." i want simply to come and go as i please without unwanted attention. i don't think that's too much to ask, and i also think that, in 2004, it should fucking go without saying.

memo to hounds on the hunt: you wanna pick up chicks? go to a fucking singles bar. the world is not your goddamn meat market.

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