My exercise of choice is power-walking in the park. Because summer in Phoenix is too hot to spend time outdoors, I haven’t walked for a long while. But I finally got out there today and noticed that life is different now that the “T” word said the “P” word.
I actually felt safe out there, for the first time since I became aware of the “male gaze”, as a young girl.
Just last spring, when I would pound the park pavement in my workout gear, I knew I was being checked out and rated on my attractiveness, or lack thereof (I’m in my fifties, a.k.a. “Too Old for Trump”). To be physically judged happens to all females, at all ages and levels of attractiveness, all the time. It’s a wearying fact of life. And, it makes one feel unsafe, always having to watch out for critical gawkers or strangers lurking in the park’s bushes.
Of course, not all men do this, but a lot of them do. To be generous, though, let’s give even those men the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps, up until the recent uproar over Donald Trump’s and Billy Bush’s unsurprising remarks about Arianne Zucker and Nancy O’Dell, they didn’t grok how it made us feel, because that’s how they have been taught that men behave. (Have you ever watched Mad Men? Or pretty much any TV show/movie/music video ever made?)
Women have been taught the same thing. That’s just how men are so — to keep the peace — we’re supposed to tolerate it, even though it makes us feel marginalized and violated. Up until now, not enough of us spoke up to educate them that this is not a friendly or productive way to interact with your fellow humans. Those who would speak up were brushed off and belittled as overly-sensitive, man-hating, shrieking feminists.
For those men, here is an excellent article that describes — in a non-accusatory way, that they can read without feeling defensive — what it’s like to live in a female body. And, guys, we’re not being overly dramatic or sensitive. It really is like this. All. The. Time. Even if we’re not young and pretty (in fact sometimes that’s worse because you’re not just being judged, you’re also being rejected). It’s just a part of being in a female human suit.
Donald Trump has done us a favor by bringing this far-too-common behavior into the spotlight, and exemplifying the stereotypical wounded male who thinks he can mock or fondle anyone who crosses his path. And he’s unrepentant about it, so it’s doubly #NotOkay.
I was saying that, whenever I power-walked before “Pussygate”, I was vigilantly aware of my safety and vulnerability, with an eye always peeled for the closest escape route — as females are trained to do. But today, during my first walk since this brouhaha began, it felt different. With every car that drove past me, with every man who jogged by, I felt safe — for the first time in decades.
It felt like none of the men I encountered wanted to be associated with the nauseating, rapey energy that we’ve all been talking about for the past week. The creeps didn’t act up and the decent guys were extra respectful. Every one of them kept an eyes-front demeanor and it felt … odd.
It felt … safe.
This is good. This means the conversation has begun. Maybe those particular men just didn’t realize how much we hate something they see as no big deal, because not enough of us have spoken up before. I haven’t felt this good about going outside and stretching my legs for decades.
Thanks, guys — from the bottom of this girl’s heart — for listening. And thanks, ladies, for speaking up. Here’s you a dog and a hug.
Lisa Bonnice is an award-winning, best-selling author and editor/manuscript doctor (and former stand-up comedienne—is there anything she can’t do???). Her current passion-project is a series of metaphysical comedy novels. The first in the series is Be Careful What You Witch For!, a modern-day fairy tale about Lola Garnett, a bored housewife and office drone who wakes up with unexpected psychic abilities, and no instruction manual, and Twink, the reluctant, sarcastic faery assigned to assist and educate her. Its sequel, Patterns in the Chaos, is in the works.
- Best seller—Fear of Our Father—#1 True Crime
- Two Excellence Awards—MSNBC.com
- eLit Silver Award—The Menhattan Project—Humor
- Includes foreword by Neale Donald Walsch—Shape Shifting
- Featured on Investigation Discovery’s TV program Catch My Killer