Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Slice of Life

I wanted to share a little slice of life with you. This happened last year and it remains an example of how one’s history of living as a woman or man can affect their experience of the same everyday events.

So I was walking in midtown Manhattan with my friend, who happens to be a big ripped Marine guy. We were crossing a street when a car passed by. The driver yelled something indecipherable out the window as he passed. My friend turned to me and asked me if I heard what the screaming driver said.

I raised an eyebrow and said, “I dunno, who cares?”

Friend: What if he was trying to tell us something important?

Me: I’ve had countless things yelled at me from men in car windows and none of it was ever important information. I don’t even listen to them anymore. Have you never had dumb shit yelled at you from a guy in a car window?

Friend: No.

It hadn’t occurred to me until then that I was reacting to a lifetime of street harassment that he had never experienced. He, probably, had generally experienced guys yelling stuff at him in the military, so it was probably important to know what they were saying.

I felt like I could trace years of my life to that exact moment. I wasn’t just reacting to a single episode of street harassment. The reaction I had was the product of years upon years of street harassment. These incidents don’t exist in their own individual vacuums, they exist in one’s life and each incident interacts and relates to those that came before and influence future incidents. Our reactions to incidents like these are the product of our life histories.

I had a similar moment with Tyler when I kept my name after marriage.


Fidelbogen said...

I am male, not small and weak-looking either. I have, on occasion, had stuff yelled at me from car windows. Mostly this was done by men, but occasionally it was done by women (the latter nearly always to express sexual approval in some way.)

I once had an egg thrown against my head. On another occasion, I was shot in the ass with a pellet gun. (This stung.) Both of these incidents occurred on dark streets, and the sex of the perpetrators was not clear to me.

I would concur, as a general rule, that when people yell at you from car windows they are not communicating anything worth listening to.

I think that most people realize this, both while walking AND while driving. And for that reason, if somebody in a car actually had something of importance to communicate, he/she would modulate his/her voice in a manner that would signal such intention.

Such as saying: "Excuse me sir. . ." or the like.


BTW: your "reverse MGTOW" logo is very clever. . .

Marie said...

To clarify, I in no way suggested that no guys ever experience street harassment. What I am trying to point out is that our reactions to these incidents are the product of all our previous experiences in addition to the one in the moment. My friend is a good example because his experience is so different and his reaction was also. He's a good contrast.

I think your point about someone trying to express something actually important modulating his/her voice is really interesting. In any other urgent situation, one's first impulse is to yell (the "Hey! You forgot your wallet!" kind of moments), but in context of our collected experience of yelling on the street, that all changes. You make a fascinating point.

And, to be perfectly honest, when we were designing the blog we already had the title and thought, "The Guy's Guide, like a road map. We should do something road-mappy," and put up the merge sign. We had actually never heard of the above-mentioned acronym until I read your comment. You're absolutely right, though! How hilarious did the logo situation turn out to be?!