I could be wrong, but I bet a bunch of us feel unsettled yet again by the latest news. Trayvon. His killer goes free. A woman in FL gets 20 years because she shot a gun in self-defense. Like my wise friend said, “Were we really surprised by this?” No, we weren’t…but we’re still saddened over it.
And…I’m going to save my specific opinions on these topics for those unlucky enough to be my facebook friends…but it got me thinking. About being judged by your appearance.
And before I go, let me clarify: I know nothing about being black. I try to, but cannot even imagine the silent injustices one experiences on a daily basis if you are. So, can I say, “I know exactly how you feel!” No, no I do not. But I do know how it is to be judged on your appearance, and that’s how I *try* to identify. I also know what it’s like to be in a gender that is still viewed as unequal. Case in point:
It was 2002, and I was working at a large ice cream store in a nearby town. I did some admin work for the company; I was basically an assistant who did the menial work while I was home from college. I, despite being unhealthy at times, have always took pride in my appearance, and dressed up every day for work. Skirts, dresses, heels. Nothing inappropriate, just tasteful. Since I didn’t work in the ice cream stand, I didn’t have to wear shorts and sneakers, so I didn’t. Just wasn’t my style.
One day, my friend and boss came over to me and whispered something I’ll never forget.
“Amanda, the big boss (names have been hidden) wants you to stop wearing dresses and skirts because the boys are getting distracted by you.”
And can I tell you? Not that it matters, but I’ve never been a risque dresser. (I use the word risque because I hate the word slut because….it’s a discriminatory female word.) No plunging necklines, no skirts above the knees. Just a crotchety old elderly female owner who came from another time and wanted to set me back 50 years, too. (And, she was probably jealous.)
Never MIND that men actually do have accountability when it comes to the question of, “Hey, should I drool over that woman I find attractive?” or “Hmmm, maybe I should be professional and appropriate and buckle down to work.” Which is what women have been doing for centuries while we smile on the inside about your charming sense of humor or bulging biceps.
Anyway, once again, I was sent the message, “Hide your body.”
“It’s your fault.”
Which is funny, because there are sexual harassment laws which protect us today from situations like that. Situations in which I could have been considered the victim if I was talked to, looked at or touched inappropriately.
Just like Trayvon was the victim. And again, it’s his fault.
Because of appearance.
And so many people will try to contest that he wasn’t a purely innocent victim, that he fought back…because the people with power don’t want to work hard and look at the fact that we’re stuck in the 1950’s in some ways. Because they’ve never had to.
What’s your take on all of this?