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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

"It's not my fault I'm pretty, please leave me alone, I am reading"

Recently, Unwinona blogged about repeated harassment on public transportation and stated that she thinks it's because she's pretty. In reflecting on my own experiences taking the train, I decided to compose my two cents in reponse. Apparently this girl started quite the firestorm of controversy webwide among feminists and chauvanists. I'm going to get to the heart of the matter, and it's not pretty for either side.

Some might say she's a feminist who blames the patriarchal system for her woes, that males feel an entitlement to getting overly chummy. Let's be honest, some do feel that entitlement. That's why the workplace is riddled with sexual harassment educational trainings which many think they don't need. The attention was unwanted. She said it was unwanted. The men persisted or became angry when their attentions were refused. Whatever you call it that's just inappropriate to harass some girl just because she doesn't want to talk to you about anything she's doing. These guys she's encountering are also probably on the low end of the maturity scale. 3 were teens with their friends.

Let's face it, if you want to be ignored, reading a book is not the way to go about it. I was sitting next to a girl on the the train today who was (drummroll please) reading a book. Actually, first she was messing with her phone. Messing with one's phone isn't remotely interesting. Even though you can see worlds within world on the internet, I've got a phone like that and it isn't remotely interesting. But then when she pulled out a book, I was suddenly inclined to figure out what book she was reading, and whether or not I should be reading it.

I'm going to diss my hometown of Los Angeles here. LA isn't known for being intellectual. For crying out loud, look at some of the vapid movies that are churned out of the studios. Comparatively, in New York City all the commuters hop on and read something. Almost nobody pays much attention. The only time someone paid any mind to what I was reading was when I was studying music. I met an opera singer who was contracted at the New York City Opera and we had a nice conversation. Another time I met someone he was reading a Bible while waiting for the subway and we began discussing it because he had set a goal for himself to read through the entire Bible in a year.

My point in bringing this up is that: 1. If you're reading something, people are going to find it interesting. 2. If you're reading something in Los Angeles, it's even more interesting because most people don't read. 3. If you're reading something in Los Angeles and you're a pretty girl, you've just created a firestorm of interest thanks to frigging Twilight and Stephanie Meyer with her stupid Fifty Shades of Gray, and the fact that many men can't be bothered to read anything at all.

Now, Unwinona, I feel bad about Bicycle Man. And I feel bad that people are bothering you. And I'm sure you've had it up to here because I can tell how angry you are. But seriously, having been teased by people my whole life, I'm going to give you some insight.

1. Don't read books on the train or the bus in Los Angeles. Take out your phone instead and text or catch up on emails. It's not as interesting. Everyone has a phone and they won't bother you.
2. If you do insist on reading books on public transportation, anticipate that you will be bothered and counteract it quickly. By that I mean, they aren't teasing you because you want to read, they're teasing you because you got angry. However inappropriate their behavior is, you have to keep your cool.
3. Get some new lines. "Please leave me alone, I'm reading" comes across as hostile. And it is. It matches the hostile body language that "screams LEAVE ME ALONE." Recognize your own fault in situations and look at it as an exercise in human nature or an acting exercise. Having been bothered so many times before, it's like a steaming kettle about to boil over. Perhaps get a friend to do some role play with you to practice responding in more effective ways that get what you want (to read) and what they want (to know what you're reading). The line you're using might work with people who know you. But as you've learned, you don't know these people and you don't know how they will react to your anger over being bothered.
4. The last thing I've learned is that when people like you or think they like you, they tease you. Some people are very bad at this. When it's mutual, it's called witty repartee. When it's not mutual, it's irritating.
5. Control your anger. It's the millionth time - but its not for them. I get the sense that, I'm a bit older than Unwinona is and that things don't bother me as much. I've learned to control my emotions. Unwinona gave off anger like the young woman that she is. Females in their early twenties in particular exude this anger because they are still immature and discovering what life is all about.

I had some guy bothering me on the train just now - literally. I'm riding Amtrak today. I was trying to get work done on the computer and this guy kept trying to talk to me. I'm like, seriously? Over the course of a few hours it was periodically quite irritating. It was inconvenient for him to turn in his chair, but he did it anyway. But I stuck to my guns politely. I apologized that I couldn't hear him very well because I have earplugs in and planned to try to get work done on the train. The additional piece of information is that at some point I realized he had been drinking and his speech was a bit slurred. There was no way he would pick up on my cues that I had better things to do. But there would have been no point to getting angry at the guy. And he left the train with a smile and teasing me to "get some work done." I said, "I'm trying." And he said, "Oh yeah, you can't with some guy bothering you, huh?" And I said "Exactly. Have a good one."

If you take my advice, I hope it helps.

Check out the original story.

Thanks for reading! Please leave a comment! (Thanks also for lurking. I don't allow anonymous comments. SavvySingleChristian@yahoo.com)


Elise O. said...

I'd never thought about LA in New York being such different cities. Do you think that bringing an Android tablet and reading a book on the Kindle app would get the same reaction as a cell phone or a book?

Elise O. said...

...well, I know they're different cities. That wasn't quite what I meant. I guess I meant that I'm surprised that the culture is really that different. :)

SavvyD said...

I was just on the bus today and no one even asked me what I was reading.

I don't know what to say!! I felt a little disappointed after all I had read. I did however, have to tell the men that I would not be able to make it standing while holding a suitcase. The days of automatic politeness are over.

As far as a tablet - try it at your own peril. If you seem like a nice person, don't be surprised if people ask you which one it is and for a recommendation for what one they should buy.

People can be ridiculous!

Elise O. said...

I hadn't thought about that! And I would hardly know what to say if they did ask for a recommendation.... "Well, um, I don't know how much memory it has. What version of Android? Uhhhh... All I know is it was the least expensive one I could find!"

Anonymous said...

So what, you want her to hate how she looks just to make you feel better? It's her fault that people approach her because she DARES to read? She told them to go away. So she's supposed to, what, wear a suit of full body armor and never use public transportation?
You're a terrible Christian, and it sounds like you're more than a little jealous of her.

SavvyD said...

Hate? Jealous? Interesting what you assume. As it turned out, the original story was fiction. And I have been also harassed on the train. No one asked me the last time I was on the bus. So what? After watching Hacksaw Ridge, I'm pretty sure we're all terrible Christians compared to Desmond Doss.