Monday, October 19, 2015

Being A Women & Being Harassed

Sometimes I get this weird, nervous smile. It doesn't have anything to do with being happy, it comes more from pure amazement and shock at a situation. It probably originates from a lack of how to comprehend something, this smile just pops up because the hilarity and ridiculousness of a situation is completely dumbfounding to me. And sometimes I have this like out of body experience where I step back (metaphorically) and think "What the f*ck is happening? What is my life right now? How bizarre for this to actually be happening. How absolutely strange it is to live life." 

So yesterday, I spent about 6 hours of my Sunday watching a friend's baby for him while he had to work. It was nice. He was such a cute and easy baby to play with. And especially after visiting my sister (who is pregnant with a one year old) and contracting some serious baby fever, it was so fun to love on an adorable baby and play mommy for a day. 

But when my friend asked if we wanted to go to Home Depot and get food with him, I was definitely ready for a break from single-handedly entertaining two children all day with no toys and not much else besides keys and sunglasses for entertainment. So we got the kids all piled into one car and took off. 

We drove to Home Depot, which was kind of far away, and by the time we got there, the baby had fallen asleep. It was dark and the weather was beautiful so I offered to stay in the car with him while my friend ran in to get what he needed. He rolled the windows down for us so we could get a nice breeze and turned the car off because he was afraid his battery would die. Then he ran inside to get whatever he needed and said he'd be right back.

Meanwhile, Eliza had taken this gum out of her mouth and decided she was ready to discard it. So she stuck her finger, with this gum stuck to the end of it, out her window and was about to wipe it off onto the top of the half way rolled down window when I quickly spurted out, "Wait, don't do that, throw it *away* from the car!" So she then tried to flick it out, only to end up flicking it off back towards herself and into the car, landing somewhere in the darkness that was the floor. So I kindly asked her to get it and she removed her seat belt to try and retrieve the gum. But it was too dark and I ended up having to use my phone light to see it and just got it myself, throwing it out of my window so that we could avoid another almost-terrible situation. But now, her seat belt was undone and it was an absolute pain in the butt to get in. The doors were locked and I really didn't feel like getting out of the car anyways, so with the windows still down, I lean over into the back to try to get her dang seat belt buckled. 

So there we are, in this dimly lit parking lot, with all of the windows rolled down. Eliza is in the back, sitting next to this sleeping baby. And I'm halfway in my seat, halfway in the back, trying to reach between these two car seats to get Eliza buckled up again. And then I hear someone saying something pretty loudly and quite possibly to me. So I look over the baby, out the other window, and these two guys, parked a few spots down from us, were shouting at me, "Hey, shake that ass for us!" 

They repeated it about 5 more times, also adding in, "I know you can!" 
To which I replied "No" "No, go away" "No thanks" and then finally "Leave me alone" 

And this is when that awkward, nervous smile came in and probably totally didn't help my situation. I mean, really, I was in complete disbelief that I'm over here trying to buckle my daughter up with this sleeping baby next to her and there are these two guys yelling at me, trying to get me to dance for them. And of course, my butt is like up in the air as I'm just trying to find the freakin buckle so I can  buckle Eliza up and sit down so that these guys can leave me alone. But it seems like the more they yell at me, the more flustered I get, and the harder it is to find the buckle that is crammed between these two car seats in the complete dark. 

Like, how ridiculous. 

So finally I find it, buckler her up and sit down. By this time, both of the men are in their car. They back out of their parking spot and drive towards our car, stopping right in front of us. Then they proceed to ask me questions like "Are those your kids? How old are you? You look so young. Is that your son? Do you want to make another? What is your number?" 

By this time, I was acutely aware at how outnumbered I was, being the only adult in the car with two young children. Also, being a female, and being harassed by these two decent sized dudes. Also, the windows are wide open and I have no way to shut them. And who knows how soon my friend will come out to offer me some relief or assistance. 

I didn't feel immediately threatened. They weren't being too aggressive but were quite persistent and pretty dang inappropriate. I was extremely relieved when they finally gave up and drove off and luckily, I saw my friend walking out as soon as they did. 

When he got back to the car, he asked "What was that about?" But I was too embarrassed and in shock to tell him. And I had this stupid smile on my face because I couldn't believe that had just happened to me. Finally I said, "Dude, next time you leave me somewhere, you need to leave the windows rolled up so people can't talk to me". And I kind of told him what happened but not all of it. Partially because we had pulled up to the Taco Cabana drive through and started placing orders. But also because I FELT GUILTY. I felt this sense of shame and regret that I had kind of put his baby in danger. I had this stigma that because I am a woman and I apparently have a butt that is appealing to men, that it was partially my fault. And I think that's the most shocking part to me. That I have that kind of reaction in response to being harassed by these men in a parking lot. 

In any case, that is not fucking ok. I will admit that we were in a not so great part of town and these two men happened to be Hispanic. But honestly, that doesn't even matter. If two white guys would have done the same thing, I would be just as appalled. I am a young mom, with two young children in the car and I was literally trying to buckle my daughter into her seat. First of all, no man ever needs to tell a woman in a parking lot, in another car, to "shake that ass". Especially in that circumstance. And then to go on to question me about my children, age, number, and if I wanted to have sex with them? I was literally in the car with children and these guys were trying to get me in their bed. 

The longer I think about it, the more the shock wears away, the more angry I get about it. Like WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK. Why would this situation ever be deemed as acceptable? Where and who are their mothers and fathers or any adult figures that had an impression on them and helped them to learn their ways? Why would someone ever think it is appropriate to talk to complete strangers like that? Especially with children in the car? 

Remember when I said I thought my life was a soap opera? I feel like a crazy person about half of the time. 

 It just amazes me how that situation even came to be in the first place and the little things that instigated it. Like if Eliza hadn't of accidentally flicked the gum back inside or if I had just suggested that I could get it off the floor in the first place, she would have never needed her seat belt to be re-buckled. Or what if the windows weren't even rolled down, she wouldn't have tried to flick it out, and I doubt some strangers would have tried to talk to me. Or what if we had parked one row over? Or I had just said that I didn't want to go to Home Depot, that we would just hang out instead of driving along. 

It was all of these little things that got me to that point, that made that situation happen that is so amazing to me. Like where they all led to and that each of them had a purpose in the story, to help it along. And then all of that happened. And it could have turned out so much worse. 

It's sad and depressing to think that something like that can be passed as appropriate and acceptable in our society. Definitely a reminder that we still have ways to go in the arena of equal rights and views towards women. But even my reaction and hesitation to admit what had just happened is alarming because somehow, I felt like I was partially to blame. That I had provoked them simply by the way that I look. I wasn't wearing provocative clothes, in fact I was still in my pajamas. I was wearing pajama pants covered in pictures of troll dolls and a tank top with a sports bra underneath, I was in no way revealing any part of my body inappropriately. Yet I still felt responsible. 

So even though that shouldn't have happened, I think the fact that I reacted the way I did is an indicator of how negatively we view and treat victims in cases like this. How messed up is that? 

What a weird day yesterday was. I still feel like I'm trying to process all of it. What is my life right now? 

IMG_5162 copy