We are lucky to have the blogger from Fuck Politeness as a guest Hoyden this week.
Fuckpoliteness is a blog born out of frustration over society’s obsessive commitment to formal/semantic politeness – to the empty vision of ‘manners’ in which an insincere apology can cover the fact that the injury was intended, a linguistic ‘niceness’ which often hides darker currents of bigotry and violence. It is an attempt then to uncover the ugliness just under the surface of ‘polite society’ and to shout back that the bigotry it glosses over is unacceptable.
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 enormous 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 enormous, “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” harassment in its various forms, but I wanna analyse whether my reaction is “fair” or not).
So I start thinking, Well, he’s totally enormous, like for real this guy could knock my teeth out without cracking a sweat. Then I think, well, that isn’t his *fault*, he can’t help being enormous. 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 jerk, in fact I wish it was detachable by velcro so I could toss the damned 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 WOW – 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’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 know this is a story that doesn’t really “go” anywhere – but I think there is value in the telling of these anecdotes…I think when we don’t ‘tell’ our stories of this casual insulting sexism, it is easy to forget how frequent it is, and how frustrating and demoralising…it also gives a space in which it is safe to ‘talk back’. It is so frustrating to have to meekly accept the humiliation if you feel that to object could lead to violence or aggression.