You. Listen Up.
I’d like to clarify a few things.
You hung from the open widow of your car, and hollered at me. I have some confusion about what your intent was. Can you elaborate?
When you screamed at us – with sufficient volume to be clearly heard from across the intersection – what was your vision for an ideal interaction?
We, a mother-daughter duo of 36 and 56, were minding our own business. We were engaged in training an enthusiastic puppy, at the end of our morning run. You startled us. (Fear is not a great opener, if you are looking to start a conversation. Just so you know.)
When you intoned that one us was a ‘very pretty girl, but give the grey a rest. Mix it up!’ – were you really offering a sincere fashion critique? (Maybe you meant both of us. We both wear a lot of grey. Who knows. It’s so murky, decoding the language of drive-by verbal assaults.)
Did you just want attention?
To reach out to another human being?
To make an impact, however misguided, on another person’s day?
I’m choosing to think that you just don’t know better. That, for whatever reason, you haven’t yet been informed. No one has filled you in.
So, I ask again. Listen up.
Appearance-based criticism (or commentary, actually, of any sort) lobbed out of car windows at women who are just going about their business – it’s unwelcome. Confusing. It feels invasive and violent.
What I do with my body, day in and day out, is my choice. I can dress in teensy running skirts if I feel like it. Sometimes I will do this for functional reasons (running skirts are awesome) and sometimes, I do it because it makes me feel like a super-hero. Again, my choice. Not an invitation for you to offer opinions when I’m out in the world, kicking ass.
Think I’m a ‘pretty girl?’ (or a fat girl, or have awesome arms, or look pregnant? At various times in my life, I’ve been offered stranger’s opinions as to my qualifications for all of the above.) Keep it to yourself. If we don’t know each other or if the nature of our relationship is such that we are not intimate enough to point out the spinach in one another’s teeth, this is unwelcome interaction.
That’s sort of a litmus test for relational intimacy: can we, gently and appropriately, point out the spinach in one another’s teeth? With the true intention to help and not humiliate? If not – it’s not appropriate for you to comment on my body.
More and more, women are being HEARD when we object to systemic oppression. In the face of a culture that I’d like to hope is rapidly coming to consciousness – I just want to let you know, Random Car Dude – you’ve been TOLD. You cannot claim ignorance to the inappropriate nature of your actions, or that we like it, consider it complimentary, or are asking for it in any way. It’s 2018 and that kind of caveman-era rationalization just doesn’t fly anymore.
Just for your clarification.