Great Scolds in Herstory #2: Intruder on the Washington Express
Welcome back to "Great Scolds in Herstory!"
A celebration of women causing a ruckus.
(For more on Scolding, check out our inaugural post.)
Great Scolds in Herstory #2:
Intruder on the Washington Express
I remember the first time I truly told a guy off. I was on the DC metro, sitting in solitude, fully intending to keep it that way throughout my trip. A dude sat next to me, as he was within his rights to do. I continued saying nothing to him, as I didn’t know him nor did I wish to get to know him.
Most women are socialized to defer to men and strive, above all, to keep them comfortable during times of stress and tumult. Thus, as a victim of that socialization, when he started to talk to me I politely engaged him. He asked me if I had a boyfriend.
I did not. I had a girlfriend at the time, but I didn’t want to entertain any line of questioning on that subject, so I lied. Gentle reader, I lied and said “yes.”
“How can you justify sleeping with him before marriage?”
We had only traveled one stop by the time he asked me this, meaning not much time had elapsed while we were “getting to know each other.” I was taken aback, to put it mildly. As if by habit, a gentle demuring rose up, along with bile, as I prepared to gently disengage myself from this embarrassing situation.
But sometimes it takes someone being truly outrageous to shake you awake, and my feminist ire boiled up instead and I returned with this:
“You don’t know me. You have NO RIGHT to ask me that.”
He looked genuinely taken aback, as if he was surprised that his incredibly insulting question had insulted me. He quickly switched roles, trying to mollify me, walking back his words.
“I meant no disrespect, sorry.”
I got off at the next stop, and not just to get away from him, but because it truly was the stop I was waiting for. But that major scold really helped give me the blueprint for all my future greatest scolds. I learned that it’s OK to take a second to gather your thoughts, then erupt full force like a feminist Vesuvius at whatever man is intruding on your day.
So tell a guy off the next time he gets in your physical or emotional space! Trust me, they make it easy, and you won’t have to wait long to test out your new skills.