Random (but not really)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Things that Suck

I work IT.

That means I dress in jeans and a t-shirt (in my case a long sleeve t-shirt, because I have a propensity to touch things that will give me a rash.

I dress for working on computers in rooms that process soil or other messy things.

In fact, here is how I’m dressed today.

20140623_081549

Comfortably.

Why am I sharing this seemingly inconsequential information with you?

Because of something that happened this morning.

As I stepped out of the room where I had been working, I saw two men standing in the hallway. One most likely a few years older than me, and one probably a few years younger.

They both turned towards me when they heard the door close, and then the older of the two went back to studying the bulletin board.

The younger male stared at me.

As I walked towards him, he continued to stare at me, and as I walked past, he actually turned his body so he could continue to stare at me as I went past him and into the stairwell.

The reason I’m sharing this is, you see, this is the kind of shit that happens all the fucking time when you’re female.

Shit like this is why I don’t feel safe walking places alone.

Shit like this is why I carry my keys in my hand, sharp bits pointing out.

Shit like this is why I hate dressing nicely, because then it’s worse.

Shit like this is why I always wear shoes I can run in.

No, it doesn’t “feel good” that someone thought I was attractive enough to stare at.

It feels creepy.

It feels unsafe.

And it feels incredibly unfair.

4 Responses to “Things that Suck”

  1. Question Says:

    So, I mean, you seem aware that you aren’t dressed in any sort of provocative manner. Don’t you think there might be some sort of alternative explanation for the stare? I’m not trying to minimize sexual harassment if it exists, but hell, I’ve had this sort of thing happen (guys have yelled out of windows in passing cars, even) and given my appearance, I find it hard to believe it is in some way sexual.

    I’m really not trying to be an ass. But, it would be terrible if you were tormented over something that isn’t actually happening. And hell, I don’t feel safe walking in certain places alone, I keep my keys in my hand roughly in the same way you do, I never dress in any sort of provocative manner, and I never wear shoes I can’t run in. But I don’t feel terrified to the extent that I interpret every weird prolonged stare as a rapist concocting his next plot.

    I apologize if this doesn’t help anything, and I’m worried it will be taken badly, but what do you think was in that guy’s head? Do you really suspect he’s just an uncontrollable creep who is so far gone that he will ogle even a very conservatively dressed, older woman? It seems unlikely to me, and sheesh, I hope I’m right.

  2. Michelle Says:

    It’s not a bad question, but it raises a bunch more questions. :)

    Why do people stare? In many mammals, staring is a form of showing dominance. If that is all he was doing, it is still incredibly rude.

    If he was staring at me because I am female and have large tracts of land, that’s just as bad, if not worse. It’s rude, and he believes that I exist for him to look at. Someone who shouldn’t care that he’s being rude. Someone who doesn’t care that he is making me uncomfortable.

    So he is either rude and ignorant, and doesn’t know you aren’t supposed to stare at people, or he is rude and doesn’t CARE that he’s being rude, or even worse, enjoys being rude.

    What do I think was in his head? I think he’s an asshole who likes staring at women and doesn’t give a shit that it is very unpleasant for the woman at whom he is starting.

    Consider–there were two guys. Both looked over when I closed the door. The older one noted where I was coming from and went back to what I was doing. The younger stared at me, and then physically turned his body so he could watch me as I went past him.

    That’s aggressive, domineering behavior, and, as I said, it’s incredibly rude. Something lets him think that his behavior is perfectly acceptable, and that is what I find so frightening. If he doesn’t think I’m deserving of respect and common courtesy, then what else does he mistakenly believe?

  3. Question Says:

    First, thanks for the civility. In charged conversations like these, that’s hard to come by.

    Second, staring at you for a prolonged period of time and making it painfully obvious is weird/rude. No question.

    But, given that, I don’t think I would infer that it’s necessarily aggressive or domineering behavior. People are frequently weird/rude for reasons not clear to those receiving the weirdness/rudeness. I usually try to err on the side of charity when guessing at the thoughts of others.

    Basically, my only point was some sort of attempt to suggest a softer reaction to the situation. I would hate to see an intelligent, interesting person such as yourself tormented by various incidents of weirdness/rudeness under the perhaps overextended inference of dangerous, aggressive, perhaps sexual intentions.

    Of course, that’s not to suggest that you’ve never experienced such intentions. Hell, I could be wrong about the whole thing. But I do know one thing: it sucks for you to be suffering the feelings/thoughts you enumerated, especially at the hands of likely asshats.

    You know, come to think of it, had you seen that guy before? Maybe it’s worth a tactful “wtf?”

  4. Michelle Says:

    As long as questions are asked civilly, I love debate. :)

    Having poorly socialized male geeks for friends for most of my life, I’m pretty good at recognizing weird/poor-socialization behavior–and dealing with it with humor. But this? This was just creepy.

    There was a guy (now retired) at the last building I worked who did the same thing. I actually talked to some of the guys I know who worked with him, about how he creeped me out. They had actually talked to him about it, saying it was rude, and his response was, “if they’re going to display it, I’m going to look,” but they did reassure me he was harmless.

    Except, of course, that I wasn’t flaunting anything, which made me even madder.

    This guy looked at me precisely the way that older guy did. Like it was his god-given right to stare, and if I didn’t like it, well, I should be wearing a burka or other body-hiding garment. Which is ALSO bullshit. Yet that’s how such looks make me feel.

    Which, in turn, pissed me off even more. :)

    And no, this was a guy I had never seen before. I spend my day walking all over, going in and out of office, so I know a lot of people by sight, and make a point to always smile and say hi when we pass in the halls.

    This guy wasn’t someone who regularly works in our building, and I really hope he doesn’t come back frequently.

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