November 3, 2007 The last train out of Sydney
Not so much a post as a quick complaint – catching the train last night to visit family I get to the top of the stairs, dragging an enourmous suitcase, child in tow and get asked by a guy what station we’re at.
I’m a bit startled, thinking he’s missing his stop, but I answer and find a seat. I notice his friend when I sit down as we are separated by a few seats, and the aisle, but are facing each other and he’s looked at me. I immediately put my head down and I think about the reaction I’ve had to them. I have immediately gleaned that they are both drunk, possibly stoned (massively red eyes), tres blokey, absolutely enourmous, “good looking” I suppose in that footballer type of way.
I don’t wanna make eye contact given my vast experience with drunken men on trains. Anyway, I dig out my book and I hear the first guy (not the one facing me) say “Stop staaarin maaaan”, but don’t really register or think anything of it. I look up at some point, and we make eye contact and I give the look – I’m sure women out there know the look, it’s well rehearsed – the ‘smile’ that is acknowledgement of eye contact, enough not to be rude, so as not to be challenging and provoke abuse, and not enough to encourage conversation.
I start thinking about my wariness and where it comes from (a good 20 years of awareness of danger, of random “drive-by” harrasment in its various forms, but I wanna analyse whether my reaction is “fair” or not). So I start thinking, Well, he’s totally enourmous, like Holy Shit, this guy could knock my teeth out without cracking a sweat. Then I think, well, shit, that isn’t his *fault*, he can’t help being enourmous. But you know, having been followed, having been hit, having read the rape stats and having had numerous unpleasant, though less physically violent interactions, I can’t “help” my radar going off, and I can’t “help” thinking of his size in this way.
I can hear the guys talking, and it’s all football and grog talk, but I decide I don’t mind the guy facing me, he shows some awareness of his surroundings etc and makes a few quips as to the other guys idiocy. Anyway, I’m deep in my book and I hear the first guy say “Stop starin man, you’re embarrassing yourself” and my eyes flick up and I make fleeting eye contact with the second guy who’s looking embarrassed and telling his friend to shut up.
I go back to my book, still not thinking much of it, when I hear the first guy (slurring and loud) say “Whaddya starin at HER for? She’s a [missed this word]. SHE don’t wanna suck no cock.”
Now, let me say I don’t know who the “she” he was talking about was. It was, by all indications, either me, or the girl sitting one seat ahead of me. I went back to my book as I was most certainly not wishing to make eye contact now. The second guy was really pissed with his friend and telling him to shut up as he was embarrassing him. It kept going for a while.
I don’t know who it was they were referring to, but it hardly matters does it? I mean “she don’t wanna suck no cock”??? WHERE do I start? Well, you know, I certainly don’t wanna “suck” yours you moronic arrogant cunt, in fact I wish it was detachable by velcro so I could toss the fucking thing out the window. But “what” was it that either I or the other girl “was” that meant definitively that we didn’t wanna suck no cock? A lesbian? A mother? A brunette? An adult?
And CHRIST – imagine, if you can, what joys might lay in store for the “type” of girl, judged as wanting to suck cock. What stimulating and witty conversation she would have been treated to. What slow, drawn out, delightfully playful seduction. What romance and laughter. It sounded very much like it would have been a case of “Knees, bitch”.
It’s really bizarre to me, that it is this kind of blanket judgment as well, like you either like to “suck cock” and therefore will do it anytime, anywhere, on command, indiscriminately or you just don’t. I kinda wanted to point out that even for those who do actually enjoy fellatio, it isn’t like liking chocolates, that you don’t see one whilst strolling around and go Oooh, might just pop that in my mouth because it *is* a “cock”.
I don’t know…I don’t know where exactly to go with this – I don’t feel personally offended by this guys judgment, I don’t give a toss. I also know that he didn’t spring from the ground a fully formed misogynist prick, that the area he grew up in, the family, the school, the books/movies etc he interacted with had an impact on the way he views and talks about women.
I guess I’m not trying to offer some kind of theoretical conclusion, I just think that there is value in telling these incidental stories of casual discrimination and harrasment that get levelled at women everywhere and everyday, that it *happens* with no warning, you can’t *avoid* shit like this. I think sharing these kinds of anectdotes, and having a look at the attitudes behind them have value just for women to reassure themselves that it’s ok to be angry, to relate to one another in the fact that while you wanna say “Get fucked” you know you are taking a big risk. I think it’s valuable to guys in hearing the everyday stuff and in thinking about the crap we put up with and ways of negotiating it amongst their friendship circles. Because it isn’t just up to *women*, it isn’t a *women’s issue*, as Figleaf, of Real Adult Sex [a blog] says, feminism is about making the world better for men and women.