Stories that need telling

 

So, the title of this post is quite vague. Imagine it is the sound that I make when I review the things of last days that made me positively livid. As in:  Extremely angry up to the point that I wanted to cry. And I guess there is a theme there. It is about harming basic rights. Now I understand that being said that you cannot walk on your street with your bike on a Friday night on a cycle lane that is over a square that is closed off for cycling on the weekend because of too many drunk people and thus you have to go some different way to your house is perhaps not necessarily a criminal offence but it sure felt like it. I must say I might have overreacted a little bit but I was very tired and coming in between and my bed when I’m tired is never a good idea.

The second thing was less obvious though in a way similar. You see the closed off cycle lane was already a process of months, it was closed off but you were allowed to walk with your bike, and as crazy about cycling Amsterdam cyclists are that was already a big step for me to be semi-ok with. Anyways. This other issue was also already going on for quite some time. However, this did not have to do with some rules but some behavior that I was not entirely ok with but kind of ignored because… because I didn’t realize how much it harmed me. This behavior consisted of a person I did not really know very well in a usually safe place for me looking at me in a way that thinking back of it makes me wish I was not a woman. And I love being a woman. So why the hell made did this person make me feel -in retrospective, that around him it was the worst thing to be?

 

Because I was watched as some kind of sexual object and not a person. Today it was not just the watching (which I so far had just ignored as a good girl does) but rather he was way to obviously looking for contact with me, and it was clear that he was not necessarily interested in me as a person. I was joking that he was too scared of me to tell something, that he sucked at winking and that I regretted telling him my name because it was annoying he was saying it the whole time. But only when he was freaking out because he felt that another man that was (obviously) gay was looking at him I realized the extend of influence of his behavior. He complained he was looked at. And me and luckily also my friend said: but that is what you have been doing to her the entire time. The thing is, the other (gay) man had not at all been looking at him in some kind of lustful way as he did to me. And when we confronted him with the fact that his behavior of looking at me was not different than the behavior he said to perceive, he said: “but that is normal”. It had seriously not occurred to him that indeed I might feel like he felt. So, I told him: “I say now that I feel the same. I do not feel comfortable to be watched like that by you the whole time.” And only then I realized how badly it had harmed me. And how messed up his behavior was. And it reminded me once again how important it is to be a feminist. And how important it is to tell these kinds of stories. To say this is not ok. Because I can imagine that you would never imagine saying that it is normal that woman is sexually objectified even if the context does not give any indication for this. But you might be treated differently by man because you are a woman or you might treat woman different because they are woman and you are sexually attracted to them-in a way that when you exaggerate it clearly shows the disrespectfulness. We all have blind spots. And fairly obviously for this guy this was that he did not see that his behavior was not ok. And I know that you are not him. But I know you have blind spots, since as far as I know you are human. And I pray to god that you start looking for them, especially because one way or another it might cause harmful and disrespectful behavior from you towards others. And that is not ok. Ever.

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