I had such a nice morning: time with my cat Shiva, a few sweet emails to read, and my usual quick whir of getting dressed, face washed, smoothie made, and out the door. I made it to the bus stop before the #2 arrived with a few moments to kill, perfect timing. I even found a seat too- BONUS! But then everything changes.
He leans against one of the poles that are erected in front of a double seat close to where I’m seated. I feel his gaze before I even see his face, his gross jaundice yellow face with weird red marks on it, white dirty-looking hair that is short but too long. Unkempt. His coat is also shoddy and he keeps staring. I feel him looking and looking and then doing the ‘coward-power- glance- dance’ I am so familiar with: looking away when I look at him or in his direction; pretending to look just above my head; quickly looking away when I move my head in his direct vicinity. I feel him the whole time, watching to see if I’m seeing him watching me. Can he not help himself? Surely it’s not that I look that ravishing…It’s never about what we look like though, is it? It’s that I’m there and so is he, the one with more power to casually and repeatedly (10 x in 2 minutes) objectify me without so much as a change in his bodily stance.
FUCK YOU. I didn’t feel like educating him with my eyes- showing him in my face how much I hate what he is doing, what he was (un)thinkingly engaged in. Why should I have to work so hard against this power? The moment that seats at the back opened up I bolted and found a spot away from his gross-ness. From there I watched him. I could tell he was pissed off. He crossed his arms and twisted his stance to try, with the aid of peripheral vision, and see if he could see me. He couldn’t and I felt like I was going to burst with angry tears. I was enraged. How dare this DOUCHE kill my awesome morning!!! He did, but only for a moment because these things happen all the time, every day, for years and years and years and years. They’re part of my normative life as a woman. So, it’s not traumatic but it’s wrong and it still exacts a price each time.
I debated not writing this account of my response to things that happen all the time to women and others. But that’s why it matters so much. It’s impossible for most men or other powerful people to have any idea or embodied sense of what patriarchy feels like, how it seeps into the molecules of our daily lives, our existence, our being. It’s disgusting, unwanted, unfair, and constant. This loser did not kill my vibe entirely. He doesn’t have that much power. Instead, I feed off of the encounter and turn him into my creative juice.