Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Anxiety, Depression, and Harassment

I just wanted to go to the museum.
That's all I wanted.
I just wanted to ride the metrorail without being harassed or annoyed by anyone. I just wanted to go enjoy a nice quiet, therapeutic time at the museum by myself without any awkward or unpleasant interactions with people.
I get off the train and start walking towards the museum, when a tall middle-aged black man sees me and says "Hey, Baby".
Since I had decided long ago not to put up with being spoken to this way, I turn and glare at him and I see his taken aback expression, and I say, confidently, "I'm not your baby." He immediately leans toward me and almost yells, "I said 'Hey LADY!". and I can see the signs of jaundice in his eyes as he glares back at me, affronted.
I immediately shrink back into myself, and with downturned eyes, I say sheepishly, "Oh. sorry. I misheard you..."
and the man looks at me with anger in his eyes before he stalks away.   In the same direction that I have to go.

Not wanting to appear as flustered as I am, I walk determinedly towards my destination, and halfway to the corner where I will have to cross, the man bends down to tie his shoe, so I am not walking in front of him.  I keep walking, afraid to look back. I stop at the corner and turn left, praying to Hod that the crosswalk sign will change so I can go before he gets level with me. It doesn't. After he passes me, I hear him.  Muttering out of the corner of his mouth back at me, he says, "I like the way that butt shake, though." And he saunters away.
At this moment, I'm enraged, offended, frustrated, scared, and humiliated all at one. I say nothing. I stand there on the corner, trying to cover myself with my cardigan, clutching onto my purse as a shield, not wanting to leave any other areas of my body open or visible, or vulnerable to comment.
Now, I sit in the public restroom at MFAH, in tears, feeling terrible about myself. Questions assault my heart, mind and soul. Is this my fault? Am I rude? Am I over-sensitive?  Should I have just ignored him in the first place?  Would I have avoided the entire disgusting exchange if I had just kept walking? Did I take what could have been a stranger's seemingly friendly greeting and turn it into street harassment because I was so sure he was being disrespectful? Was I too "eager to be offended"?  Maybe he would have ended up objectifying and disrespecting me even if I had ignored his initial address.
Either way, I feel like I never want to go out in public again.  Never want to be around people again, never want to be looked upon with a man's (or maybe even anyone's) eyes ever again. I wish I had an invisibility cloak. So I could go where I please and be free from staring, leering, comments, and come ons.
Just when I start to come out of my misanthropic carapace, just when I start to feel confident about myself.  A seemingly trivial moment with a stranger like this has the power to crush my self-esteem and increase my introvertedness, my desire for solitude-even hermitage. Guilt and shame weigh heavy on my heart.
I hate that man
I hate men like that
I hate when men behave like that.
I hate being so emotional.
I hate that PMS makes me (even more) so emotional.
I hate that I cry about (almost) everything.
I hate that I cry when I’m angry.
I hate that crying is seen as weakness.
I hate that being emotionally sensitive is seen as weakness.

I hate feeling everything.

No comments:

Post a Comment