"Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them."

Images from a visit to the Broad Museum on the day after Christmas.

Quote: Margaret Atwood

Today I roadtripped with my sisters to see Leonard Knight's Salvation Mountain (more on that in another post! so many glorious photographs), but I had an interesting (read: negative) experience on the way there. 

I got off the highway and pulled up to a pump to get some gas. I turned off the car and took about 40 seconds to find my wallet in the back seat and create the following game plan. My sisters and I were conferring—I wanted to buy the gas on my card, but was also considering splitting a cinnabon with Emily from the convenience store. It was decided—Liz would pump the gas on my card while Emily and I went inside to get a cinnamon roll. It took me significantly longer to type this paragraph than it took to decide in person, but before I could tell Liz my zip code some guy was rapping his knuckles on my window. 

"There are people waiting. Are you even going to get gas?" He carried on—even though I hadn't even taken a minute to get my things together and even though there were two empty pumps I saw in my quick scan of the lot, I was uncomfortable with the way this man was speaking to me.

I apologized profusely, addressed the man as sir, and wished that he would get back in his giant orange truck already and leave me alone. I got the gas instead of delegating with my sisters. 

The angry stranger eventually got back in his truck and this quote of Margaret Atwood's came to mind: 

"Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them."

I wanted to stand up for myself; I wanted to tell him to get away from me; I wanted to give him a piece of my mind. I wanted to point out the two available pumps he would've seen if he even bothered looking; I wanted to ignore him all together; I wanted to take my sweet time just to spite him. 

But I didn't do any of these things because I was afraid of this stranger. This man who felt entitled enough to bother me in the first place. The only action I could take where I felt remotely secure meant that I apologized profusely for doing nothing wrong, that I referred to this stranger as "sir" and made sure my voice sounded as submissive and respectful and remorseful as I could.

 

I stopped taking the train to work for several reasons (time), but a huge influencing factor was actually that men bothered me every day. No matter what I did, what I was wearing, or how I reacted. I feel grateful and recognize that I am privileged enough to take a car to work instead of the train. Not everyone can afford to do that—overall between transportation costs and the loss of the public transit incentive from my work, it costs me about $13o more a month to not take the train. That's a lot of money for me—I'm fresh out of school and I have bills, but I could afford to adjust my budget in other ways and make the choice to give that up. Not everyone can. Not even close.