Oh, the boundless limits of male privilege: I am male, and I deserve access to all women unaccompanied (or "claimed") by other men at all times. Unclaimed women, you are always my business, and you are always available for my pleasure.
I am bothered my two things this evening: a) the encounter I will describe, and b) my reaction.
This all started a few weeks ago while shopping at Trader Joes, and I asked an employee to help me locate balsamic vinegar. I thanked him for his help, and moved along to the next item on my list. A few aisles down and a short time later, that same employee--we'll call him TJ--accosted me; he had clearly been looking for me, spotted me, and zeroed in.
He asked me for my number in some lame way. I declined (although my response deserves a blog in and of itself). Case closed.
So there I was tonight--very much exhausted and irritable after a long day of work and a disaster or two on my mind. And here comes TJ with a lecherous grin on his face.
"You always look so good whenever you come in."
And before I even registered what happened, I automatically smiled as I tilted my head a bit and replied "thank you."
Then I took two steps, realized what happened, was absolutely disgusted and more importantly, very unhappy as a customer.
But there is TJ's sense of male privilege--no amount of professionalism can surmount his sense of entitlement.
And then there is the reply of my inculcated female script: smile and nod. Just take it. You are here to be looked at, and you better like it. And if you don't, you are a bitch.
Is it so absurd that an employee should treat me as a customer, not a play thing? And the automatic compliance on my part is so perverse. I can't help but think of Marilyn Frye: I contribute to my own erasure.
What I should of said is how I feel. This is not professional; treat me like a customer. Is there no privacy for women?