This week I had a few men remind me that even as a privileged white woman living in a developed country, our lives and cultures were still built around men.
It all started on Monday. I went to see a psychiatrist as part of my mental health evaluation that I’ve been doing. Don’t worry, I’m not another ‘crazy’ woman who is going to get all her emotions all over you, I’m just very self aware and like to make sure I’m taking care of my physical as well as psychological health.
My male doctor evaluated me, asking for all the real juicy details of my life, all standard protocol.
He went on to tell me I had a traumatic life.
I agreed there were ups and downs, but felt as though traumatic was an overstretch. He said, that it sounded traumatic to him.
Later on I contradicted him on something to which he responded:
When in the history of never is it ok to refer to your psychiatric patient as a smarty-pants.
Keep in mind that this was AFTER I told him that in my family I was told I was the pretty one and my sister was the smart one….
Are you all as outraged as I am?
He knew about my “traumatic” relationship with men and STILL felt it appropriate to ultimately put me down using the same insult my father used on me years ago.
Slow clap now for the doctor of the year.
Great news is, it only cost me $400 to realize I was completely ripped off.
I wonder how often he refers to his male patients as ‘smarty-pants’?
The rest of the week I battled man-spreaders on my new bus route to a yoga studio I’m frequenting now.
Don’t worry, it’s fine, I’ll just shrink up in a hole and disappear so you can take up three seats and air your junk out, because let’s be honest, women should be standing on the bus, we don’t deserve seats.
I’ve dealt professionally with men who despise assertive women and I scared away a date when I suggested that marriage was not my thing and I felt long term relationships should be evaluated every few years to make sure both parties were still feeling fulfilled.
To be honest, this is all pretty normal, I’m sure most women out there would agree. Everyday sexism that just slips by. Smile and wave ladies, no one has time for your individuality.
I would say I had a great week despite all this, it was jam packed and full of love, especially when I got to sit next to other women on the bus!
Today however, I had a meltdown. A friend of a friend posted a photo of me on social media that I didn’t like. There are a lot of details I can’t really get in to, but the briefest summary is that I asked this person to take it down and said it made me uncomfortable because I didn’t like how I looked despite being unidentifiable.
The male who took the photo, said no. He took the photo, it’s his, the end.
Creative law is on his side, it is mostly his, but from the human side of it, it’s my body, presented in a way I dislike, shared publicly, and he wouldn’t budge.
I’ve written before about how I’ve had an eating disorder since I was a pre teen. Now it’s mostly under control, but today it was triggered in the worst way possible.
For many people eating disorders are a way to have control in their tumultuous lives. When I feel really really anxious, I purge.
This rarely occurs now, but it’s something that is always in the background as a coping mechanism.
I’m proud to say that even though I saw this photo that I felt made me look fat and was extremely unflattering, I did not purge, but I did rage in my head (and a little out loud to my very nice boss who listened patiently).
In a way I feel this person has taken away control over my body and the way I am represented digitally. He threw words at me about law and all I could think is, ‘this is me, you don’t own me, I don’t want this on the Internet, take it down!!!’
There was nothing I could do.
There was no compassion on his end.
I finally told him I had an eating disorder and it was a triggering photo for me.
He never replied.
And that’s how it is, isn’t it?
As a female I want my body to fit an unrealistic standard to attract men and feel good about myself, whether consciously or subconsciously, and when I fall short of that perfect standard, there’s a man waiting to shove it in my face.
I know that I should love myself and it’s just a picture no one will really see, but now that we live in this digital world these situations will start to come up.
I’m not just upset because I don’t look perfect, as my sister pointed out I look athletic and fine, but it’s the fact that I asked him to take it down and he couldn’t fathom why and wouldn’t release the control.
I can’t imagine he would do that to a male friend but then again men may not have to conform to the same beauty standards (though that’s slowly changing), they would have been trained to negotiate better…plus bro culture and all that bullshit.
Why do I find it hard to trust men and open up and be myself dating?
Well maybe because even when I do open up and share insecurities about my body, they can’t even grasp the notion and disregard it as a silly thing that some smarty-pants girl is having a moment over.
Well guess what, I am having a moment. And my moment is going to report that doctor.
I’m going to confront man-spreaders on the bus (I do this almost every damn day).
I’m going to not follow-up with that half decent date from Tuesday because he’s just not open minded enough for me. I didn’t do anything wrong, he’s living in dark ages and I need someone emotionally intelligent enough to understand where I’m coming from.
And as for the man who took my photo and stole my image. He can have it, because now he lives in my mind as a symbol of why I need to continue to be an assertive, powerful, and intelligent woman…so I can avoid men like him who think they own the world.
Not me, not my world.