Posted By: Coco Buchanan
Stella and I were having a meeting at our most convenient vegetarian café (the same one where we saw Olivia Thirlby & other random celebrities) in the West Village, discussing politics and political affiliations being made public in the workplace. I was recalling an incident in a sensitivity training seminar run by a lawyer/consultant in which I questioned whether or not it made sense to not discuss politics or political affiliations when the nature of our job calls for the constant examination of municipal and national government systems.
My point of the discussion being that because the consultant dismissed my question, making me look like a giant asshole, I am still sort of unclear about where these boundaries lie exactly. It was then that a man in a business suit sitting next to us on a laptop thrust himself in our conversation in the following way (I’m paraphrasing): “Can I interrupt for a second? I mean, I was eavesdropping on your conversation, and…. well, I have a thing or two to say about this, I mean, can I interrupt?”
I remained frozen in disbelief of the arrogance and balls of this guy to just invade our discourse so cavalierly, and just kind of stared at him with my mouth agape. Stella appropriately replied “Well, it is still interrupting.” The guy proceeded to say these sort of obvious and somewhat irrelevant things about the points that both of us had already made- not to mention the fact that he is entirely unfamiliar with the type of work we do, not to mention with the particular culture of our office. We continued talking amongst ourselves, and I even tried to change the topics to very specific people and things familiar to Stella and I, so as to avoid any potential further interruptions.
I probably wouldn’t have given the incident much thought, until later that night I was again pulled into a conversation I had no desire to enter. I was at the overpriced natural foods store near my apartment-specifically, in the soup aisle, because, clearly, I was interested in buying soup. This hipster-doofus type asks me how my night is going. It was so random, to paraphrase Travis Bickle, I wasn’t even sure if he was talking to me, even though there was no one else in the unfortunately way-too-narrow aisle. I said my night was going “ok.” He then asked me what I was making. At first I didn’t even like, get the question. We were in the soup aisle….like, what else could I possibly be “making”? So I responded, “I dunno, dude, I’m just looking to buy some soup.” He then babbled on about god knows what, while I slowly and quietly slipped away to another aisle far, far away.
I apologize for the long windedness of this entry, but- I am really, really sick of the amount of entitlement that some dudes have with regard to one’s personal space as a woman. One could argue that these dudes were just trying to be friendly. And perhaps I am particularly unfriendly, but unless there is some sort of buyer/cashier, coworker-to-co-worker, etc. – type relationship that has been established, I really have no desire to hear from you or converse with you. I would really never DREAM of interrupting 2 guys at a café, or ask some guy what he was “making” when looking at soup in the grocery store. I mean, am I crazy here? To me, it implies this sense of self-importance and therefore an innate RIGHT they think they have to give you a “piece of their mind” about a conversation that has nothing to do with them, or to assume something about what you’re doing with your life. Like, who the hell asked you? If I wanted to ask your opinion or discuss my dinner plans, I would do so with the appropriate person…..which is clearly not some random dude who forces himself into one’s space.
For me, this arrogant presumptive attitude isn’t that far off, and can in fact be one manifestation of the same mentality that springs cat-calling, stalking, and even sexual assault. How else can I explain the bile that rises up in my throat when the same homeless guy on the L train always tries to get me to pay attention to his assertions that I’m “beautiful”? He’s never satisfied until I look directly into his eyes and acknowledge his “compliment.” It may seem like a compliment to an outside observer, but it only makes me feel embarrassed, singled out, and as though he feels he is in the position as the keeper of some sort of “respect” that I am ever so lucky to have been bestowed.
Once I was on a train back from Kew Gardens, Queens, and in a pretty fully packed train (with children, no less), some guy was talking the dirtiest, most offensively foul and sexually explicit shit about me and my body after I moved away from my seat after he tried to grab my leg, as a result of ignoring his first somewhat less-aggressive advances. His banter was truly cruel and he made it clear to me that he enjoyed “fucking with me,” as he put it. Luckily, when he tried to follow me once I exited the train, I lost him in the confusing stair-trail in my transfer to another train.
It seems to me that these guys like this are trying to prove something- to themselves and to others. Somehow trying to convince themselves that they have power, that they are truly men who are entitled to power over others deemed “weaker” by society, regardless of their socioeconomic station. And perhaps in some cases, precisely because of it.
Anyway, dudes, my point is, check yo’ self before you wreck yo’self….because no one is impressed. At least Stella and I are not.