It’s Mostly Just Uncomfortable
Being an introvert, anonymity in a crowd is comforting. I’m drawn to cities because of it. No one expects social interaction in a crowd, the disconnect is civil and expected. Sometimes I’m able to achieve this level of invisibility in the city and sometimes I am not. Women’s bodies are public property, I’m reminded that my walk to class (to CVS, home etc.) is a performance open to critique with each whistle. I’m reminded I do not only exist for myself every time the man standing behind me in line at Starbucks tells me to smile and grabs my waist. My response to these critiques is a learned behavior, muscle memory, sometimes you smile back, you learn to pick your battles. Those who don’t grow up with this form of hypervisibility have trouble sympathizing it, listing it among another list of grievances that women take too seriously. Asking why do we distrust the compliments of men so much. Against what anyone would wish to argue or believe about human nature, women are taught and proven that they must distrust the hints and small acts of empathy that men extend toward them. It’s a learned behavior. Muscle memory. We are taught from the very beginning that violence is their truth and then we are asked to forget it. Mainly in the capacity of this conversation we are forced to oblige the phrase “Not all men”, when our whole lives we have been told by our fathers “Yes, all men. Every single one of them.” There is a very distinct moment in every girl’s life when she becomes acutely aware that she is on display. It’s thrilling at first, to realize you have reached that point of womanhood where you can elicit a verbal responses from groups of men in a passing SUV, but like most aspects of womanhood, it becomes tiresome until it becomes dangerous. There is a feminist mantra that states a desire and need “to see and be seen”, but sometimes I just want to see. You can’t have your cake and eat it too.