A few years ago, I wrote this poem:
I admit it.
I enjoy dissuading
the egos of men
I should be so happy
to do otherwise.
...and it's true. Combine that with my quick defense mechanisms and my absolute inability to tolerate being sexualized without my consent and you get a very non-Christian me. So men who leer, or lean out car windows or grab my ass because we're in a crowd and think it's somehow ok, or take liberties when they should keep quiet - mouths and hands to themselves! - get my worst (or perhaps, to some feminist-types, my best). I'm not proud of what Jesus might call my lower moments. Even when I do what the situation begs for, the guttoral response evokes shame in me.
So, I tell you this story with that shame and self loathing attached to it; in full force, softened only by Boyfriend's healthful love and reasoning.
Pre IGA: I am feeling rested. It's been a wonderfully lazy morning, the sun is out, the day is calendarically clear. I decide I need groceries. I drive though I would normally walk, because the list has grown and I'd rather steer than carry. I am moving slow because the fog in my brain is still heavy, still lovely. I arrive, turn off the car, get out and close my car door and I get that feeling, a little creeping in the pit of my stomach; a twisted breeze that moves the clouds away. Then I see the man driving less than 2k through the lot, elbow out the window, staring, staring, staring -- at my hips, my torso, my head to my feet and I think MY GOD, AM I STILL WEARING CLOTHES?? It doesn't feel like it. Every curve has been analyzed, smurked at, assessed with pleasure. This lasts for maybe 60 seconds but feels like a year and the vomit comes out, in the form of my middle finger, aimed at his side mirror as he drives away.
Immediately, I am ashamed and I feel it heavily. I have been made to believe, if I believe my culture, that leering is complimentary. Thoughts bombard me as I cross the doors into a rush of much needed cold air. I'm not even pretty. Okay I'm sort of pretty, should I have done that? Wasn't that nice? It's terrible to be stared at, to be taken in so brazenly and without my consent. I'm overreacting. I'm a product of the overly-feminist movement. He was just looking.
Post IGA: I've settled, somewhat. It's been at least a half hour since I lost my cool and I've let the fog return, sure that the day's interruptions have presented themselves in full. I make it to my car and juggle the groceries in to my passenger seat. As I put down the last bag I am aware of something, it sounds like yelling, it's leaning over the car beside me; it's the man I gave my last angered thought to. I turn and tune in at about this point:
What the fuck is wrong with you? Are you stupid? You are a terrible person. You may be pretty on the outside but your insides are horrible. Your insides need work. You ugly bitch. What the fuck? You're so...
...and on it goes, ad nauseum. Like a record badly broken, pointing loudly at every insecurity I hold; like he knew exactly what to say to get me. For minutes. I, baffled and sideswept, can only say things like "um, uhm. Sorry. uhm..." in a voice so quiet it doesn't register and it muffles; lost in the freight train of the man one car over. I make it home through tears and the absolute loss of my footing. I can't even pretend I don't want to cry. I can only think: My god, is he right? He is right. He must be right. I forget what I am.
I remember only as time passes (time is good for that).
I remember when my love reminds me (my love is good for that, too).