Thursday, October 8, 2009

my feminism trigger

I'm not a feminism apologist. I don't feel the need to assert that "oh, no, I'm not a femi-nazi" before I say anything regarding equal rights for women. Still, I've never really considered myself a feminist. Because, frankly, that's never where my real passion for equality has lay. I've always been passionate about lgbt rights (perhaps as a reflection of which of my own personal identities I take to be more prevalent or important... I don't know.) (Although in a chat a few nights ago, Nonboyfriend's girlfriend pointed out to me that she's always considered me a feminist precisely because I was so adamant about queer rights. She considers them inherently connected, and I think there's something to be said for that... Aside from the sometimes stereotypical feminist disavowal of automatically equating feminist with "man-hating dyke." But that's a whole other post.) So for something to trigger my feminist rage, it generally has to be pretty agregious. Or at least really, obviously, patently sexist.

Which I encountered this evening.

I was pulling into the parking lot at my neighborhood Target. The parking lot was somewhat busy, but my mom's boyfriend (the only other person in the car with me) noticed a spot in the aisle over, so I went to homestead until the SUV parked in the spot finished backing up. Because of the location of the spot and the terrible turning radius of the car I was driving, my first effort at pulling in placed the car diagonally across the spot. (I am admittedly terrible at parking in normal spaces, though I'm an EXCELLENT parallel parker... which is weird, I know.) But I knew I was going to have to back out and 3-point the turn, essentially. So I put the car in reverse but kept my foot on the brake, and looked behind me, and checked both mirrors. On my left, there was a cop SUV, patrolling the lot, but waiting for me to finish adjusting the car before he passed me. On my right, there were two pedestrians who had stopped, a car away from me, to let me continue readjusting. So I pulled the car halfway out and back into the spot significantly straighter. (But still not in the center of the spot. Because, literally, I'm incapable of it.)

And as I got out of the car, I noticed the cop was still idling directly behind my car. With his window down. I made passing eye contact, but didn't really pay any attention. Until he called out at me from his car.

"Hey there, you be careful with those pedestrians, OK sweetheart? We wouldn't want you to hurt anybody."

SWEETHEART?... Sweetheart?! I just stared at him, flabergasted. "Yeah, uh, can do," I managed, without any intonation.

"OK, well just be careful, honey."

I didn't look back as I speed-walked to the door, but my mom's boyfriend pointed out that the slimeball stared at me all the way to the door. As soon as the door shut behind me, I started muttering "Sweetheart? I'm not your fucking sweetheart. Don't fucking call me sweetheart."

Now, I realize this doesn't carry over as well in text, because I can't get the proper inflection. And his words, if they were said differently, could have been a simple caution. (That I didn't need. As I'd checked for pedestrians before I had pulled back out, and even made eye contact with the ones who were clearly waiting for me to finish parking before they walked behind my car.) But this wasn't polite advice. It was the condescending, you-clearly-don't-have-the-mental-capacity-to-comprehend-parking-a-vehicle-because-you-have-breasts kind of tone.

I'm not sure I should need to mention it, but just to prevent trolls, I was wearing sneakers, jeans, a knee-length white peacoat and a mid-cut v-neck sweater. Definitely NOT overtly sexy or inherently bimbo-esque. (As if clothes were a determination of intelligence, anyway.)

But I was steaming about the "sweetheart" comment for a good few hours. I've cooled down a little, and there's a possibility I was being too sensitive... But I was genuinely offended. I haven't had anyone speak down to me like that in a LONG time. And I've been going car shopping lately... which, for my female readers who've done that, I can imagine you know what a point of reference that is. It was just so blatantly condescending. And yes, it DID feel like it was related to my gender. Admittedly, had he not said "sweetheart," I likely wouldn't be so put off. I still probably would have thought it was probably unnecessary to roll down his window IN THE SNOW to caution me against something I wasn't at risk of doing, and might have grumbled a bit, but you likely never would have heard about it here.

So, THAT'S what it takes to pull my feminist trigger.


1 comment:

champagneandbenzedrine said...

I know that peacoat! And it IS sexy, but not in a 'she's just a bimbo and can't park her car' way. And in all honesty, women have been proven to be better/safer drivers than men in a whole host of scientific and statistical studies.

And no, you're not a feminazi for calling somebody on plain dickish behavior. There was more going on there than just your gender - the cop of condescending to you because you were probably younger than him as well, and you were attractive, which makes some insecure guys want to puff their feathers and make themselves look big. It was plain chauvinistic behavior and you shouldn't apologize for taking offense to it!