May contain triggers.
This is a really important topic and this particular post explains it in a way that’s very difficult to do.
I experienced this the other day. I was approached by an older man, somewhere in his late twenties to thirties, while I was in the hot tub and he began a conversation. I’m always wary of men, especially while I’m by myself and particularly while I’m by myself in a bathing suit, but I try not to blow a situation out of proportion by ignoring or snubbing a man who tries to talk to me where I might not snub a woman of similar age.
I’m over explaining myself.
Anyway, the conversation progressed pretty ordinarily. He asked my age after I made a comment about school, and later he asked about my plans for the future. Innocent, right? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with any of that.
My problem came after I articulated my desire to be a journalist, perhaps on television. He essentially said I had the charisma and articulation necessary for the career then, quote, “you’re pretty enough to get on TV.”
Boom. Automatically uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure how to respond. I laughed a bit awkwardly and said thank you, then made a comment about how stubborn I am. It seems like very little, right? Even now, I feel ridiculous for my response.
But at the same time I feel justified. When an older man, a stranger, compliments me physically, it makes my skin crawl. Particularly when the same man approaches me at a later date while I sit with my mom.
And isn’t that screwed up? I don’t want to feel stifled by my own caution, unable to carry on a relatively innocuous conversation because I fear the man whom I talk to. Who can blame me, though? When we face rape and harassment every day, what aware woman is not cautious?
While I was out with two female friends, one got catcalled and she was ecstatic. Despite our earlier reassurances that she looked gorgeous, a stranger’s whistle meant more to her self-esteem. It disgusted me. This gorgeous, intelligent woman feels defined by the men who compliment her, and not for lack of genuine compliments. I worry for her. I worry for my other friend, consumed by a relationship she can’t make work. I worry for myself, fearful of male attention and the romance I’ve finally begun to trust. I worry for every woman who is insulted for her talents, for not being pretty enough for the jerks driving their cars around clubs for a depressed, lonely girl to stumble into their trap. I worry for my little sister, developing into a curvaceous woman, finally shaving her legs and wearing bras and flirting with boys. I worry for the trans women, fighting their way into such a dangerous world that is even worse for them. I worry for all of us.
Stay safe and happy, Nuts.