I am a woman. I am an individual. I am a student, an employee, a friend, a family member, an acquaintance, a social media user and more…
I am a person. This was somewhat resolved way back in Canada's history with the Persons case where women were INDEED deemed to be persons. So why then should we put up with people treating us like anything less?
Today, I am particularly irate about people's behaviour toward me that makes me feel anything less than a person. No, I'm not going to go into excruciating detail about the particular incident that sparked this frustrated rant, but it's 2013, folks. I'm not going to let someone get away with treating me that way without talking to the appropriate folks to deal with said situation. And frankly I really wish that I could say that I was the only one affected by the particular behaviours that have set me on edge before and today made me feel utterly uncomfortable, and making me take action. That is not the case. I don't actually care if someone's brain is addled by former drug use, by intelligence issues, by a lack of a social filter, or by any other social awkwardness explanations that someone can come up with. This type of behaviour is NOT and SHOULD NOT be socially acceptable. Not in this day and age. Not in any day and age where women are actually persons.
But I also know that it's not just this individual who is at fault for letting this behaviour continue. No one else came forward before today, though I now know that it's not just me. We should be raising our children to know what isn't appropriate, encouraging our friends, families, peers, co-workers, and others, and generally making known what is unacceptable. We should be speaking out, but knowing the abuse that people can expect by doing said things I'm not entirely surprised that more women don't speak out. I'm not surprised that people don't notice things when they aren't on the receiving end of such behaviour. That doesn't make me any less unhappy but honestly, we as a society, we as individuals, we as a group of aware people, need to look out for each other. I don't want to feel like I'm making mountains out of molehills, but sometimes words hurt. Heck, sometimes words, even when they're meant to be complimentary cross a line. Sometimes words combined with posture, with glances, with behaviour in general can cause a reaction. I don't like feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. I don't like the way it feels to be on the wrong end of some words, glances, posture, behaviour. I want to feel safe and happy and proud to be a woman. I don't want to be limited by fears and frustrations and anger at the mere existence of people who make me feel uncomfortable. And I shouldn't have to feel this way in my own daily routine, in my city, in my time.
What can I say as advice/suggestions/etc. from the occasions where I've felt uncomfortable enough to need to vent? (and no this isn't limited to this particular incident, but rather a bunch of different observations)
-Be aware of how others might perceive your behaviour. What might be acceptable in one situation given a particular previously existing relationship with someone (whether friendship or otherwise) might not be acceptable at another time, or with another individual.
-Please do not make assumptions, particularly not assumptions that some woman would find your company attractive, or even that some woman would want to spend any more time with you than necessary unless there is at least SOME sort of corroboration for this assumption (yes I will admit that many aren't as aware of others' perceptions with regards to themselves, but then perhaps ASKING might be a better plan rather than assuming?)
-Do not assume that everyone wants to date first and being 'friends' is somehow a second-best-option of somehow last resort. I hate the term 'friend-zoning' because quite honestly I like having friends of ALL genders and all orientations provided that I don't feel super uncomfortable in your presence. And I'm going to feel super uncomfortable if you treat being friends as a) a way of getting into my pants later b) a runner-up prize or c) some sort of chore
-Do not assume that just because the 'customer is always right' that someone might want to hear some sob story of some legal nightmare or otherwise involving your wife, your ex-, your friend or otherwise. I highly doubt that most people want to hear how this person in your life killed, maimed, hurt, etc. unless there's honestly something that these people can do for you OR these people are your friends/family/etc. already and care for you… rather than simply being creeped out by you.
-Please, when someone says 'hi' they might be merely being polite. Greeting someone should not come with the expectation that some sort of desire or liking exists, but instead there is a social obligation and a desire for niceties that surrounds some behaviours. Of course, being nice and polite might be accompanied by desire and liking, but this is not always the case — there are very few people who will not say 'hello' to respond to someone else's greeting.
-There is a certain point where excuses might actually be an indication that a certain thing may be less prioritized than other things in a person's life… that said an adamant 'NO' or 'I'm not interested' should be actually treated as exactly that: NO…. particularly when repeated.
-Prying into the personal life of someone whom you do not know very well is not often a good plan.
-Sure there's expectations of an employee, but that doesn't mean that what one does on the job is the same as what one does outside of the job.
-What your religion and cultural upbringing might be may not be the same for others.
-A name does not determine what a person is and what they do, believe or act upon.
-Employees (the most common example is teachers and professors etc.) actually do have lives outside of work.
I guess that's the extent of my ranting for the moment. I'm glad that the situation I dealt with today has been dealt with as best as possible for the moment. I hope that actions taken will result in a less likelihood of recurrences, but I guess I'll just have to see what happens. Sometimes policy and procedures have a place. Sometimes one can rely on common decency. Sometimes social mores work to one's advantage… but sometimes none of these things are true. Life is complicated indeed, and I can't help but be saddened that anyone can feel that treating a women like less than a person is okay.