This is going to be a mess because I’m just…untidily angry right now. And everyone that knows me knows I don’t post anything online regarding politics or otherwise. But I’m done…
It began with a series of texts I sent to my mom today about my ever-broken WRX. I normally fix what I can on my car with the assistance of my boyfriend, but this was just one of those times we didn’t want to be involved in the mess. The mechanic had told my mother that he was “working on that WRX just as fast as I can because now that I’ve met her, I can’t wait to get that little girl behind the wheel again.“
As I write this out I am 25 years old and have earned each one of those years. Thus, I told my mother that I prefer to be referred to as “Danger Smog-Dragon” or “Rage-Mistress” or “Ephemeral Time Lady” in which my mom replied that perhaps I should “Use my words, politely but firmly, to his face.” She further observed that, “Unless you’re willing to SAY THAT to him, nothing is going to change”.
I told my mom that I was tired of having to use my words. It’s been 25 years of using my words. Why is it my job to continuously ask to be treated equivalent to a male customer? Why is it that when I arrive at a shop, I’m reminded that I have to push the clutch in if I want to start my own car? It’s 2019. Why is it still all sexism, all the time?
I discovered that I was actually furious. I thought I was over being furious, but it turns out, the rage was merely dormant. I’m furious that it’s been over a decade and nothing has changed. I’m furious that sexism was everywhere in the world of high school-Taylor and it remains thus, even if I out-learn, out-earn, out-drive, and out-perform my male counterparts. At the end of the day, I’m still the “little girl.”
Possibly this is the point where some people are asking why this tiny gesture of all gestures should be the one to break me.
Well, in no particular order…here is the anatomy of my rage.
Step one: It is 2012. I am 18. I go to college. A professor tells me I’m pretty. A couple times a week…for three years….
The same year, I start my first job. A married man and a regular at my work, tells me he just can’t control himself around me. He says he stays up at night thinking of my skin.
2013, after becoming friends with a boss’ daughter, I’m at her house for a sleepover. I’m sleeping on the couch, and I wake up to find her father running his hand from my anklebone to my thigh. I pretend I’m still asleep. “If something happened to my wife,” he tells me later, “I could be with you.” At my next (reluctant) visit to her house, I see his wife’s left a book on the kitchen table. “How to Rekindle your Husband’s Love”.
Step two: It’s 2018 and I finally buy the aforementioned, forever-broken, car of my dreams, a 2011 Subaru Impreza WRX hatchback in World Rally Blue. I make it my official daily-driver. The third time I take it to pump some gas, a man tells me, “If I were your husband, I wouldn’t want you out driving my car.” I tell him, “If you were my husband, I’d be a widow.” The car requires a lot of gas. Once, I went into the gas station to get a drink, and when I came out, a bunch of guys had parked me in. They want, they say, to “have a word with me, little lady”. We play automotive chicken, which I win, because I would rather smash the back of my WRX into their BMW’s than have to stab one of them with the knife in my glove box.
Step three: Still 2018. I’m driving my WRX to visit a friend in a far-away city. It starts making awful noises/vibrating so I pull over. I’m laying on the ground looking in behind my wheels and a pick up truck stops beside me (I was on a back road). “Hey baby, do you need any help?” asks the driver. “Yeah,” I reply, “do you have a 3/8” breaker bar?” He didn’t.
Step four: It’s 2010. This is the year I learned that I was a thing to be touched and kissed and hooted at, unless I took it upon myself to say no, and no again, and no some more. A boy from school asks me to come over. We sit with his parents at the dinner table. We say thank you to God for our meal and then he proceeds to touch me underneath the table. He runs his fingers up my thighs and then looks at me and mouths “shh” while his parents are cutting their pork chops. I remove his hand from my thigh. He puts it back, higher than before. I’m too scared to ask him to stop or to tell his parents. He gets me in the basement away from his parents after dinner and while we’re watching TV he shoves his tongue in my ear. I ask him if I can go home. He gets angry and tells everyone at school that I’m a prude.
Step five: One year later. I start dating a guy from school because my friends hangout with him which makes him “trustworthy” right? The first few weeks go well. But then he starts to pressure me. I let him touch me. We make out. I don’t want to go further. I want to wait. He breaks up with me at a party with all of our friends around after luring me upstairs to a bedroom, making it look like he was about to get some. I start walking down a main city street while crying to my father on the phone to come pick me up, telling him I’ll be walking towards home, alone.
Step six: Someone very close to me confesses that her boyfriend keeps trying to push her past kissing, and she doesn’t want to. I tell her to set boundaries, and leave him if he doesn’t agree. A month passes when I find out that she had sex for the first time after he urged her to have several glasses of wine. She doesn’t drink. She was crying. She said, “I didn’t say no, though.”
It’s been too many years. I’m tired of having to say no. I’m tired of the media telling me that its mouth-breathing bros and rednecks perpetuating the sexism. No…I can tell you that the most insidious form is the nice guy. The one who probably is a nice guy, don’t get me wrong. I carry my own prejudices, and I don’t believe in demonizing people who aren’t perfect. None of us are. But the nice guy, who says something sexist, gets away with it. The nice guy, who says something sexist, sounds right and reasonable. The nice guy’s not helping, though. It’s been years and years of this…and the nice guys are nice, but women are still things to be acquired. We are still creatures to be asked on dates. We are still saying no. Still SHOUTING no. Still having to always again and again say “No. Please treat me with respect.”
I was just invited to a car show. The well-meaning guy who asked me wanted me to bring my WRX. I clicked on the event page to discover it’s catered by Hooters. I’m not going. Yeah, okay, it’s a little thing…but I have a lifetime of them.
“I can’t wait to get that little girl behind the wheel again.“