Probably Polka Dots A personal, political, and perhaps unpopular post | Probably Polka Dots

23 October 2017

A personal, political, and perhaps unpopular post



I am writing today's post because I literally cannot stop thinking about this incident. I was originally planning to post this on my personal Facebook page, but it got to be so lengthy, I decided to shift it to the blog. I don't ever speak about "politically-charged" topics on my blog. I almost think blogging is a place to take a break from all of that, but I hope today's post sparks a shift in me. Not often enough to take the place of other content, but hopefully more often than once every six years. Here we go:

I had an experience on Marta yesterday that I have been going over and over in my head. Because I can’t stop thinking about it, I feel like I should share what happened.

After an awesome time at the Atlanta United Game, we found ourselves surrounded by fans at a Marta station who were growing irritable after yet another unreliable train schedule. It was crowded and hot - a recipe for disaster. After standing on the platform for a few minutes, a man pushed through the crowd and claimed a spot in front of me - a spot where I was left nearly touching the back of him. Perhaps it was because I had left a little breathing room between me and the woman in front of me. My bad. I rolled my eyes, and probably muttered something like “cool” under my breath.

A few minutes later, the train arrived, and this same man bumped into me several times as he jumped back and forth trying to determine when the doors would land in front of him. This happened no fewer than three times. When I said, “excuse me,” he replied, “Sorry for cutting you off, b*tch” as though HIS rudeness was my fault. I was stunned, and the only reply I could squeak out was “me too.”

Here’s the thing: in the grand scheme of things, this was not a big deal. However, it is not lost on me that this man chose to stand in front of me, a woman, when there were plenty of MEN he could have chosen to stand in front of. Instead, he saw an opportunity to exercise his power. He saw a chance to make a move because there was literally nothing I could do about it. I could have called him out. I could have even asked him why he did that, but at the end of things, he had the power and the unspoken authority, as a man, to steal that space and not think twice about it.

Then, while he was in the wrong, he called me, a complete stranger, a name. He bumped into me multiple times. He pushed past me. He stood in front of me. He didn’t wait his turn. And yet, I am the b*tch.

There has been a lot of talk about sexual harassment in the news recently, While I definitely don’t qualify this experience as that level of harassment AT ALL, I think the experience I had is yet another example of how some men are taught to view women, and how many men automatically assume power over women, perhaps without even realizing it. In that moment on the train, I was made to feel as though I had done something wrong. This is probably the same feeling that many women have, I would venture to guess, on a daily basis.


My challenge to men is this: Educate yourself on why this is a problem. Read some of the news stories about Harvey Weinstein, Bill O'Reilly, and others. Think about why these men, and even those that are less extreme examples, feel as though they can repeatedly behave this way. Then ask yourself why women are made to feel slight, wrong, and even crazy for speaking up. Then think about what we can do, as a society, to make a difference.

Teach your daughters that they can speak to a professional football player about the game without being made to feel incompetent. Speak to your sons about how cool it would be to play professional basketball under a female coach. Encourage your friends to do the right thing on the train platform. Chide them for calling women b*tches. Refrain from using words like outspoken, spirited, and hot-headed to describe little girls when we would never use those words to describe boys. Think of women as your partners, your counterparts, and your comrades. It has to start with you.

Because no one believes us.

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