yesterday, at a work meeting, my creepiest co-worker sat too close to me. i was wearing a cute dress because i was going to sister spit after work and wanted to look cute. but, i forgot that if i look cute that’s just a fucking invitation for every creepy man in the world to try & look up my skirt. pgh is not like new york or philly–guys will look, but not touch, or say anything. for a while, i thought that was good enough.
but not this guy. he has such bad vibes. such sexual-assaulter vibes. there are times when a man looks at me and i feel like he just thinks i am attractive. and there are other times when i can hear him raping me in his head. and yeah it’s just a feeling, not an action, but it wears on me.
the meeting went on & on. he was so close. one side was him. the other side, a lunchroom table, jammed into my ribcage. across the table was another middle-aged, possibly aspie man who was openly staring at my tits. i hunched over and crossed my legs. of course, this put me with my back to the director, who was speaking & who already thinks i’m a disrespectful young whippersnapper anyway cuz i have piercings and tattoos and don’t look like a girl. but fuck. i could not allow this man to see my thighs anymore.
the worst part was not being able to escape. surrounded on every side by men, & it’s a serious meeting so i can’t just get up and leave. and if i did, they’d just see more of my body anyway.
afterwards, i was visibly upset. my friend b. asked if i was okay and i said no. i told him a little of what happened. my friend agreed with me that he is creepy, and said, he hasn’t gotten laid in a while, everything catches his attention. i said, please don’t refer to me as a thing. my friend is a straight white dude from the sticks. sweet, but hasn’t thought about a lot of things. i’m glad i said that because i think it changed his perspective a little.
i saw my lover later that day, when i was on break. still upset. still visibly upset. he asked what was wrong and i couldn’t tell him. because he doesn’t get it. because he’s a man. i hated him for being a man in that moment, even though he’s sweet and nice and respectful. i just couldn’t talk to him. so i was quiet and fuming and weird and it was awkward. but the gap between us just felt so wide then. and i just knew he’d never understand. (note: i have since talked to him about it and he did understand, kinda).
i bummed a cigarette off a lady friend at work, because i couldn’t stop panicking. such a little thing, really, but it reverberated so deeply. i said, “thanks, r! i feel so much better!’ she said, “yeah, i think it’s the deep breathing.” i said, “i’ve been trying deep breathing all day, it’s not working.” “yeah, i guess you have to go out and hurt yourself.” we laughed bitterly. then she said, “well, it’s better than cutting yourself!” i have big self-inflicted scars all over my arms. we aren’t close enough for her to know my past. i stopped in my tracks. i didn’t know what to say.
left work early because i just couldn’t take it. went home cuz i’d forgotten to take my pillz that morning and i knew that was part of the reason for me feeling so badly. ripped the cute dress off. pulled out my binder and cutoffs. i don’t want to look nice for men anymore. i want to be a genderqueerdo again. i don’t want them to be able to see my tits. i don’t want to let them win. while i was pedaling & crying, towards the bus stop to pick up emily, a girl yelled, “hey, dykes on bikes!” at me. i couldn’t tell if she was validating me or just making fun. it really could have been either.
sister spit was fun and hilarious. pretty much all of the performers had good energy & good things to say. but i was still having some residual anxiety from my day and had to go home. breathe in, breathe out, even with lungs compressed tightly under layers of meshy cloth. breathe in, breathe in. don’t forget, people love you. people think you are sexy who don’t want to rape you. i had written “someday…” on my wrist in red ink and it looks like a cut. it was a reference to a powerful line in the sarah schulman book girls, visions and everything: “someday, i’ll kill a man.”
don’t read it and think i’m advocating murder. don’t tell me you aren’t the problem. don’t tell me i am crazy. think about what has to happen to drive someone to make that statement, what drives someone to appreciate it. think about it and then think of a solution. because i’m tired. i’m so fucking tired.