Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Looking Glass

Let's talk about the other day.

Have you ever had a day where you left the house knowing you looked good? I mean, I try to be presentable almost every day, but the other day, I checked the mirror before I left and was actually pleased. Hair was doing something fun and kicky. Eyeliner wasn't wonky. Outfit was appropriately quirky. "Hells yeah," I thought, and out the door I went.

During the day, a couple of people said, "You look nice." That was fine, because I did look nice.

Here is what would strike me as not fine: it is not fine when someone comes up to you and is very, very close to you -- so close he is touching you, so close you can smell his breath, and you have no room to back up or step away -- and says, in a low voice, so that you and no one else can hear him, "Has anyone mentioned that you look goooooood?"

Reread that last bit and tell me of it makes you uncomfortable. I'll wait.


I will freely admit that, on occasion, I have worn clothing that shows some leg. Or some cleavage. The day I left my house thinking I looked super snappy, here's what I was wearing: 
A long sleeved shirt that literally comes to my neck. The collar is so high I would have to push it to the side to take my pulse.
A blazer

I could not have been more covered, y'all. I was COVERED. I was all kinds of appropriate. 

I was ashamed nonetheless. 

I should say, here, that I don't think that the speaker intended to make me uncomfortable. (I should also say that the previous statement makes me feel conflicted, because ... How do you not realize that is not going to make someone uncomfortable? And does intent matter more than result?) However,  it did make me uncomfortable, and it also made me feel guilty about my discomfort, as though a nice girl would just appreciate the praise, and a nice girl wouldn't say anything about how unpleasant she found it.

It also did make me ashamed, as though I had invited the kind of attention that made me so uncomfortable. After all, didn't I acknowledge that I looked cute before I left the house? Wasn't looking cute my intention? What was my problem?

On a personal level, my problem is that I am VERY selective about who is invited into my immediate space. I like to have the room to step away if I find it necessary. For me, in most situations, space equals safety. As a result, this situation made me feel unsafe.

On a political level: if I was a man, this is not how it would have gone down. It just wouldn't. That makes me uncomfortable as well, that I find myself in these kind of situations because I am a woman, because my default is politeness, and because I honestly have no idea how to respond when shit like this happens. (This, by the way, is not to say that these things don't happen to men. I believe they do. I also believe that it happens to women more frequently.)


Today, I left the house feeling like I looked cute. I also feel very self conscious and awkward -- more so than usual.

Not sure what to do with any of this.

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