So. Street harassment. Catcalling. “How,” I can hear you wondering, feverishly, as you toss and turn in your beds, sleepless, “does Lipstick Lamarr feel about this?”
I feel a lot of ways about this. I could write books on how I feel about this. However, I am a huge proponent of not repeating things which have already been said, and said well, so I will instead run the litmus test devised by the brilliant and beautiful Caitlin Moran. It’s outlined in her book How To Be a Woman, which I firmly believe that you must read if you want to consider yourself a human being of any worth.
Ok. First question, per the Moran Method: “Is this polite?”
No. No it is not. I think we can all agree that it is never polite to yell random thoughts about a stranger’s appearance at them in the street. We all have a lot of thoughts, and not every single one is a gem that needs to be shared. Most people who are not toddlers have figured this out. It is also not polite to try to force a conversation on someone that is clearly not interested in having one.
Second question: “Are the men worrying about this?”
Again, no, they are not. The men seem to be perfectly able to walk to work without some dude informing them that “Your ass looks BANGIN’ in those Dockers, yo!” Nor are the men being told “Good morning, man – hey, hey, can I talk to you for a second? WELL FINE YOU’RE NOT THAT SWOLE ANYWAY, BRO!”; “Smile, brah – it can’t be that bad!” or any number of other “greetings” women field on a daily basis from all those friendly, friendly men out there who just want to make sure we’re all having a pleasant day.
Hmmm. So, per the Moran Method, it appears that there is some sexist skullduggery afoot.
Do you know who doesn’t participate in sexist skullduggery? My husband. He has zero patience for that which is not polite.
He is, in fact, so insistent on politeness that he got into a fight at a gas station the other day because some guy was rude to the cashier.
Patrick and I live in a small city. We have three record shops, pedicabs, and two places where you can get artisanal vinegar and olive oil. It is the sort of place that you would see on House Hunters and think to yourself, “God, I wish I lived somewhere like that. I would be so fit and cool and I’d buy fresh flowers at the market every day and write the next great American novel in that cute coffee shop. And then I would make homemade pasta with artisanal olive oil.” You would think this even in spite of the fact that:
1. Any plant that enters your home either immediately dies or is eaten by your weird cat, necessitating an expensive vet visit.
2. You don’t actually like coffee, and most of your attempts to write crumble into hours spent looking at pictures of cats on Instagram. Cats who are probably not weird plant eaters.
3. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of dollars worth of groceries have gone to rot in your kitchen because you never get home from work until 9 pm, at which point it is definitely too late to cook anything, so you wind up eating ill advised burritos at least four nights a week, which is probably why you no longer fit into your one pair of “hip” jeans.
People also tend to be pretty polite in our small city. For the most part, they’re nice to waiters, wait their turn, and try not to be assholes even if they are drunk. (There are, of course, exceptions).
The gas station Patrick was in was not in our small city. It was in another area of our county. It is not the sort of place regularly featured on House Hunters. It is the sort of place regularly featured on Cops. People have Truck Nutz there.
Anyway, the cashier was having a some trouble voiding a transaction, and a line was forming. The guy in line behind Patrick was getting quite impatient. He must have had some pressing brain surgery to do or something because he pushed his way to the front of the line, slammed some money down on the counter, yelled something unintelligible at the cashier (although his main intent seemed to be to instruct her to do something physically impossible to herself) and started to storm out the door.
But he wouldn’t be storming out the door today. Not this day. Oh, no. Not with Patrick, the POLITE AVENGER, in his midst. Patrick grabbed the villain by the collar and shouted “Don’t be an arsehole – apologize!”*
A hush fell over the gas station.
And then the villain said, “Fuck off,” and staggered out the door unimpeded.
But Patrick got the coffee he was purchasing for free. Wealth and fame is ignored. Coffee is his reward.
*Patrick says words like “arsehole” because he is South African. He went to a very posh school where he learned to speak like he is constantly stopping off for a quick cuppa before a spot of squash with Wills and Harry. This posh accent is so well known that, one time, when he was in a Starbucks, a South African barista who was from a completely different part of the country and did not know Patrick was able to pinpoint where he had gone to school. Patrick also had to extricate himself from a near fight at this same Starbucks with a girl who was violently positive that Patrick was, in fact, Cary Elwes of The Princess Bride fame, despite the fact that Patrick looks nothing like Cary Elwes. A lot of weird things happen to Patrick while he is buying coffee.