So let’s say you are running the errands after a morning at the office and a lunch talking shop with your dearest work friends. And you head into the pet store to grab some kitty litter feeling all happy you have such dear friends. You push your cart with a bounce in your step, stop in the litter aisle, and start to fill your cart, when you feel eyes on you.
You turn around to see if in your blissful fog you are in someone’s way and a tank-top-clad man is looking at you confusedly squinting. If at that point, he becomes the Entitled Patriarchy Incarnate, here is how I handled him.
Feel free to incorporate your own methods. This is merely one way in which you might both illustrate he has no right to assert any control over you and tell him to fuck off all at the same time.
I over-politely asked, “Am I in your way?” To which Tank Top Man replied while staring at my…ummmm, tank top, “I can see your bra through that shirt, you should know.”
“I am well-aware. And why is your business to tell me so?” as I catch a glimpse of not one but two of his nipples as he animates to emphasize his point.
Tank Top Man is clearly taken aback I engaged him with both the knowledge you can see a shadow of my bra and with my willingness to ask him such a bold question. He was just trying to buy some litter after all, and was merely providing a public service to all the women whose bras were showing.
As he pondered such a daunting and complex question, still caught off-guard by my audacity in bothering him, Tank Top Man replied, “You should probably think more about what you wear if you don’t want to get what men think you want.”
“And what do men think I want when they see my bra?” oh, Entitled Patriarchy Incarnate Tank Top Man? Calmly holding his gaze, as he glanced at my tank top again, he said, “I’m just doing you a favor.”
As he was hurriedly grabbing his bag of litter, I took the liberty of intruding in his life further by sharing a few more of my thoughts on the matter.
“Your understanding that how I dress affects how men act is wrong. Every human has a choice regarding how they act and your public service announcement regarding my bra is an attempt to control my behavior by blaming me for someone else’s choice to become violent against me to give me ‘what men think I want.'” If you didn’t know, that is sexist. I suggest next time you see a woman’s bra showing you choose to proceed by getting your litter and keep your either benevolent sexism or blatant manipulation of control over her to yourself. The best way to do that is to notice her, acknowledge she deserves complete respect just like you might treat a man with his nipples showing for example, by saying absolutely nothing.”
As he looked over his shoulder picking up speed as he walked away, I said, “Have an awesome day!”
Let’s just say, the wait in line at the cashier was only uncomfortable for one of us.
Addendum: I was conflicted about sharing this here as I love to extend positivity whenever I connect with the world. But I considered the fact that who knows how many humans there are out there unwilling to share these experiences. Some don’t want to. And many can’t for fear of reprisal. By no means am I suggesting every person encountering similar treatment is required to speak up. I can and I do. And I do for myself, and because I feel connected to all those who can’t. This is me doing what I can to honor that connection.