Dear dudes in trucks (other sundry vehicles),
It's pretty clear that this world belongs to you, and, well, not to me. I've been running into quite a few of you dudes in trucks (and cars. And walking past me on the sidewalk) since I moved downtown. Not, you know, daily - but frequently enough to be getting perturbing. Dudes who feel the need to stop me and say gross things masked (sometimes, and only just barely) as compliments. Or drunken 'whoooo baby's'. Or as was the oh-so-pleasant-case last night, as I walked home from dance class, 'wanna fuck's?'
*Yes. Oh. Baby. Do I ever 'wanna fuck.' You and all your drunk friends, too. Me. Open the door and let's have at 'er. Right here at the red light. I want it. Bad.*
This, of course, is what I want to say. Or rather shout. Drenched in sarcasm. I don't. Because there seem to be a lot of you in there, and only one of me, and those kinda odds aren't especially my favourite. I want you to realize that you're a jackass. I want you to realize that the space you are taking up is also mine, and that by doing what you just did, you take that away from me. I want you to realize that your words, on my body, are neither welcome, invited, or consented to. But I also know that no matter what I say, or how I 'holla back,' you will not realize these things.
Because you don't have to.
Because you weren't raised a girl. If you had been, you would likely know (by the time you hit my age) what it feels like to have hands, and eyes, and words put on your body that you did not want, invite, or consent to.* You were not raised with the ingrained, constantly reinforced (and unfortunately mistaken) belief that strange dudes in trucks are your worst fear as a woman. You do not have to think about what would happen if those fears turn out to be real. But I do. And whether or not something 'bad' happens - I have to carry that that knowledge, and that split second of fear, with me on my walk home, while you get to drive off, merry and oblivious. Hardly seems fair, does it? And even more frustrating is the fact that, even after years and years of attempting to de-program my inculcated brain, my first response to your interruption of my space is to look down and take stock of what I am wearing.
What did I do?
Inevitably, when I bring up these sorts of things, I am reminded that as a 30 (erm, ish) woman, mother of two children, single woman, whathaveyou - I should be grateful or appreciative of the 'attention.' And trust me when I say that I'm not against, nor am I above a little friendly objectification. Sometimes I'm a sexy mama and I don't mind being told that, you know, now and again, in the right context, from the right person.
But this isn't about me being a sexy mama. It isn't about appreciation. It isn't about the fact that somehow, my winter jacket and dance class tights have turned you on beyond all recognition. This is a reminder that this world, and the freedom to move in it, is yours and not mine. This is a warning; a reminder that I am not entitled to walk home from dance class, in the dark, down Jasper Avenue, alone.
I'm not appreciative. And for the record, no, I don't wanna fuck.
* and yes. Of course men are also victims of sexual assault and objectification. I know this and I hate this and it's yucky. What I am attempting to speak about here is living in a broader culture which objectifies women. Systemically.