Wednesday, October 29, 2014

I remember standing in a Taco Bell line on my lunch break from Music+ one evening, my thrift store-find polyester men's shirt buttoned up to the last button, and having two men staring at me. As I stood hoping the line moved faster so I could slam my lunch before standing on the floor for the rest of the night, one of them said, "Man, she got nice tits." He announced it like I wasn't a human being with ears and disgust and embarrassment. I was supposed to stand there and either pretend I didn't hear it or reward him with a demure, appreciative smile, while his friend stood there with a stupid grin. At that point in my life, I'd already been groped--at 15--by an old man in a strip mall, paid to pierce my ears. I'd already been hollered at by a stranger not to "change a thing, baby" as I powdered my nose in a passenger seat at a gas station, and I was cussed at by the same man when I rolled my 16 yr-old eyes; I'd already had lewd gestures aimed my way of what someone wanted to do to me, by the time I was 14. 

That night in that Taco Bell line, something in me went on autopilot, and I spoke--as loudly as he had--about his mother, his sister, his girlfriend. At first, he was angry I'd dared to talk back, dared to rebuff his "compliment"; that made me a "bitch." But being nineteen and angry that there was *never* a break from that--even when I was just trying to get a damn burrito so I could get back to my crappy job--I didn't back down, though no one backed me up...and somehow I pushed him right into a sincere apology.

All these years later, I remember how he said it and the pressure of his eyes on me. I remember how shaky I felt inside, but I also remember being damned if I'd let him see a single ounce of shame or fear from me. Most men know his is not the kind of "compliment" (most) women are flattered by, but how often do they think the things in this short video are? Because this IS life as a woman and as a girl:

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