So I’m at the bus stop this morning writing on my laptop, when a guy walks up to me. He shouts at me over my headphones. He juts his face over my screen. After two minutes of typing through innuendo blended with outrage, I pull out an ear bud.
Me: “Sorry, but I really need to work.” I continue typing.
Guy: “Work? Why don’t you do your work at home? What could you be writing that’s so goddamn important? Like you’re even getting paid for that. You’re not even typing for real. No one can type that fast. Work? Bullshit. You carry around the goddamn laptop and you think you’re so important. Bet you don’t even have a boyfriend, so busy with that laptop. What’s so important with that laptop? I bet you can hear every word I say.”
Me (on my feet now and seething): “If it bothers you so much to see a woman writing, I’m just going to move somewhere else. Think you can handle that?”
Outraged, I yank my wheelie bag over gravel. I walk several yards away, sit down, and continue typing.
He shouts at me across the sidewalk. Then he targets another woman at the stop.
I call the cops. They prevent him from following me onto my bus.
And that’s Misogyny 101, honey. Alive and well. Virginia Woolf’s Lily Briscoe is still with us.
I can’t believe it. Here I am in 2013. Shit like this has happened all my life. And I keep trying to move further from the enclaves where you might expect to find it. And I am still having to justify the use of my time and energy for myself.
For my own intellectual life.
Rather than donating it for a man’s validation and ego.
Beyond the basic human dignity that we all owe one another, women owe men nothing. Nothing. I don’t owe you five cents. I don’t owe you a pen. A date. Or five minutes of my attention.
Especially when I’m writing.
And if I give you that? It’s exactly that. A gift. Accept it with grace. Maybe even a little gratitude. I treat your time the same way.
And the fact that misogynist men think otherwise only reflects on the way this culture raises them.
This society raises men to validate their masculinity by attracting women. It starts early. Boys are taught to interrupt and monopolize the attention, resources, and sexuality of their female peers. Some reject this premise. They see it for what it is. It’s not feasible. It’s not logical. It’s fundamentally violating.
But others never question it. And that’s how misogyny begins. And as women turn them away and say, “Dude, sorry, but I have better things to do than babysit your ego,” misogynist men make the mistake of thinking that bitch is the reason they feel dissed. So they slap the shit out of that bitch. Because she asked for it. Took his ego and walked all over it.
They don’t realize there’s something fundamentally wrong with the way their self-worth and identity function. They don’t see the problem if they get this worked up about strangers not having time for them. All that happened was a human being said, “I’m sorry, but I’m busy.”
Men need to redefine masculinity in a way that does not depend on women. And here, you’ve got to admit gay men are way ahead of the curve. Monopolizing, subordinating, or possessing women’s resources—time, attention, bodies–does not make someone a man. It doesn’t make a person anything but insecure and angry. Resentful.
And that’s no good for anybody.
I think it’s time to include misogyny—along with racism and homophobia—in the DSM. Because it’s a personality disorder. An inherently maladaptive and destructive view of the world and the self.
2 thoughts on “Misogyny Is Alive and Well”
All kinds of strange encounters happen at the bus stop. Do you write a lot there? Where I live, a laptop/tablet would be picked off before any conversation.
Ah, the joys of public transit. I hear you about technology, and usually I stick to spiral notebooks. But on my bus routes, men harass women regardless of technology use. Yesterday a guy behind me rattled my seat back when I ignored his request for a pen. I didn’t see him ask any of the other passengers (male). Recently, a man leaned forward and whispered an obscene comment into my ear. I also saw a young black woman called every epithet in the book when she asked an older man to please stop talking to her. All these cases involved technology no more advanced than a paperback. It’s difficult for women to “think long thoughts” (E. B. White, “Here Is New York”) with such intrusions on their personal space and dignity. Be safe out there, Adventures!