Today, I have decided to talk about love. Please, hold the awwws and sighs. This is a theoretical debate. Several times at work this week, conventional expressions of love – true love, marriage, sex – have been brought up and glorified as the only way to express love while less popular forms of love – love between siblings, friends or a community – have been rejected as not really love. In this post, I will expand on one instance. I propose to prove that love holds no bounds and that theories of its limitations are false.
So I am just going to come out and say it, I hate cat-calls. But actually. As Stevia said very eloquently in her post, “just fucking stop.” It is not a compliment, its not flattering, it doesn’t make me feel fuzzy inside. Just NO. Where does this declaration of such ire come from, you might ask? My friends know that I am a very chill, relaxed person. I don’t get upset easily, and when I do, I usually can talk it out or make a joke, and its all good. Nothing, (except when people say they don’t like NYC), makes me grit my teeth and boil my blood like cat-calling. But, since I like wearing nice clothing and take pride in my appearance, which apparently is an invitation for un-asked for remarks from strange men on the street, I thought I would share with this fabulous blog my best and worst cat-calling experiences and throw in some of the my ways in which I have dealt with the situation to quell the rage.
Before I jump in, a quick mental image: I am a biracial, 23, curvy lady who cannot resist dresses in the summer and a bit of kohl under the eyes. I don’t believe in “uglying” myself in order to feel safe walking around. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, so I am familiar with how to walk safely on city streets and the death glare. Starting from the best, and going to the worst cat-calling incidents, I present a Shout-out to Cat-Callers in the life of Lady Bee.
There are many things that make me mad: getting woken up before my alarm the day I am supposed to be awake at 8 am on a Sunday (who else would ever want to wake up that early anyways?), missing the bus because it got there early, when someone tells me I eat too much (to which I would respond, I could eat so much more!), and the list goes on. Yesterday, gendered chivalry climbed to the top of my list after several instances of “chivalry” throughout the day.
Yesterday was also one of those rare days in which I had stand apart clarity. You know, when you are a participant of a situation, but can also stand apart and see it for what it is with unusual clarity. And yesterday, such clarity came to me as I stood behind the bar of my restaurant job, thinking how I would write this article about chivalry. I knew what my personal thoughts were on the matter; that chivalry in the traditional medieval sense was outdated and a modern approach to chivalry transcended gender. Chivalry was simply being a human being. Yet, the events of the day made me question if my personal definition of chivalry was as prevalent as I hoped. It also made me question whether accepting help was a way of propagating the traditional concept of chivalry.
It all started (as you guessed it), yesterday at 3pm. I was attempting to procrastinate setting up and stocking the bar – there was one beer in the main cooler; one out of 50 that should be in the freezer. But I was immediately reminded of my duties by the manager and went downstairs into the basement to start bringing up boxes. The other bartender, who is of a the male persuasion, insisted that he helped me. I wasn’t going to say no; I had a lot of boxes of beer, wine and liquor to bring up a steep flight of stairs. But then, as I made the second trip upstairs, I thought, well, would he have offered to help if I had been a dude? Most definitely not. That made me wonder, was I a damsel in distress?
– I bet she is thinking “I hope he doesn’t poke himself with that sword”
A distressed damsel is a terribly antiquated way of putting it, but I would imagine that is how people (and in this case, guys) would see it. A chance to be a shining knight and help the poor weak damsel in dismay. Chivalry in a modern setting.
Thank you Bridie for introducing to us the imposing presence of the impostor syndrome. I was very much inspired by your unveiling of the insidious illness and I would like to introduce my own ideas of how people can have another source of resistance against self-negativity.
I call it a secret weapon, a weapon that has been cultivated for centuries at the hands of the very enemies who were/are loudest in proclaiming that someone is insipid, useless, unable or inferior. This weapon is a fathomless well of motivation and determination to prove all the nay-sayers wrong. This well has catastrophic powers, with the possible consequences of pushing people to take a sledge hammer to the glass ceiling, stampede down road blocks to equal rights, catapult over exceptions and to take a sharpie to the official rule book.
Now, what does this “well” (as I call it) have to do with the impostor, you may ask? Think of it as yin and yang. To every situation there is an equal and opposite force. In this case, where there is a voice telling you that you can’t, there is also a voice declaring that you can. When the impostor voice insists that you are not qualified, it feeds the well with reasons about why you are! (Besides that fact that you are a boss, of course). We are all different. For different people, perhaps this well isn’t gushing like Niagara Falls, but instead is the size of a raindrop. Or perhaps, that person takes their inspiration or motivation from a different source. My idea is just another illustration of where inspiration can spring and another way to visualize it. (Metaphors rock!) Also, I was raised specifically to think in terms of negative and positive energy. These terms have been called many things, from karma, to luck, to a whole plethora of other descriptions of parts of the human experience that affects not only our outlook but how we view and feel things ourselves.
Let me tell you a story in order to make clear how this is especially true for me.
***NOTE: this post will be a little bit of a spoiler for the book Dealing with Dragons by Patricia C. Wrede. The post will discuss the first two chapters. SO if you do not mind a very little spoilage, read on! ****
Throughout most of my youth and young adulthood, I was a reading fanatic. Any fantasy, sci-fi or fiction book I could get my hands on were devoured by my need to escape into another world and for a little bit of time, become a character on a space ship or a detective on the streets of London. My favorite books had female protagonists and authors such as Tamara Pierce, Robin McKinley, Diane Duane, Phillip Pullman, Holly Black, and many others, were the ones who introduced me to the basis of my feminist belief that women are as kickass, powerful, and moving as men. One particular book whose character fit these characteristics was Cimorene in Dealing with Dragons, written by Patricia C. Wrede.
It’s easy to think that feminism is a singular cause. It’s the fight for women to make a space open to women…no, not only a space but a normalcy for women’s rights, their stories, their truths and their testimony. But not everything regarding women can be so easily boxed. Minority rights and how women of color are viewed, is as poignant a cause, which needs as much, if not more attention. Minority women have a double burden, they face both racism and sexism. They are shining heroes who must rise above privilege, the privilege of both white men and women, and the privilege that men hold in general. There are many women who can bear witness to this double binding, who have fought and spoken to loosen their shackles and…Open Wide the Freedom Gates. A memoir by Dorothy Height, it is more than just her story but the story of hundreds and thousands of women, mostly black, who pushed, marched, cried, spoke, prayed, sang, preached, and rallied, for the cause of women and civil rights. This post is dedicated to the testimony of Dorothy Height.
Its springtime folks. Cherry blossoms will soon be bursting forth from the branches. Sunlight will creep on to the window frame earlier, and stay there later. Birds will sing…and bells will ring?
“Well, aren’t you thinking about getting married?” a friend said to me while sitting at Tryst for a quick tea break before work.
“NO!” I cried, aghast. More than a few heads turned. But I paid them no heed. I needed to nip this unpleasant conversation in the bud. “Why would I want to get married NOW?”
Why do we speak?
A very simple question that seems to have multiple quick answers:
- for people to listen
- to spread ideas
- to teach
- to scold
- to solve a problem
- to mend or negotiate
- to unite people either in conversation or around a common cause
- to silence other people
And unlike Waldo, speech is everywhere. Not only in a literary form, but in advertisements, music, dance, poetry, art, a gesture, or a roll of the eyes. Speech surrounds our every waking (and sleeping) existence.
To the (sometimes) annoyance of others, I speak to ask questions. One that I find myself returning to is: What is feminism? I can’t speak for anyone other than myself and my experience, so that’s what I will do. To me, feminism is women (and men) fighting to gain equal rights for women and teach about the woman’s experience from the woman’s perspective. Feminism is a type of bearing that withstands the burden’s of society, culture, histories and top trends to speak for the women who supersede all these preconceptions. Feminism is a living idea that gains its existence from the thoughts, experiences and values of different women around the world.