Yesterday I mentioned that we had gone garage sale shopping over the weekend. We didn't find anything we were looking for, though the girls were given some ridiculous freebies, but it is fun to get out and look around at sales so we do it a couple of times a year.
While we were out at a sale I was wandering through rows of furniture with the girls when a total stranger asked me,"How much for the lady in the hat?"
I was the lady in the hat.
He was with someone I know and he had seen us talking. I had been kind of joking with my acquaintance and this guy probably felt comfortable chiming in. I am certain he meant no real harm, but still...
I gave him a look and said,"Uh, not for sale." Then I hightailed it from him with the girls in tow.
Cordelia whispered to me,"Mommy why does that man want to buy you?" She asked because we had recently had some random conversation, after a history lesson, about how in certain parts of the world the men think they own women. I had assured her that we live in a country that does not allow for such a thing.
I mean, what do I say to that?! The weirdest part is that has happened to me before, many times. It is always awkward men a generation or more advanced in years than I am. I am sure it has never occurred to them that they are being totally disgusting and creepy---but they are! It makes me uncomfortable.
I am from a generation who, for the longest time, did not feel comfortable calling themselves feminist. I remember a time, maybe around 14 when I spoke up for equal treatment and then demurred and said,"Not like I am a feminist or something."
You know what? I am a feminist! I believe women are entitled to the full spectrum of equal rights. I want that for my daughters. I do not want them to be quietly polite when men ask to buy them in a joking manner. I want them to speak up for themselves and their treatment. I want them to feel safe and confident that they will not be harmed or low grade threatened by men.
I understand that this weird stranger probably just put his foot in his mouth, heaven knows I am guilty of that, but it has happened to me so many times. Seriously, what is that all about? It is not funny. It is not OK it makes me, and now my daughters, feel uncomfortable.
So I thought I would put a positive spin on this and use it as an opportunity. I wonder what I should have said to this man? Obviously he probably has never even considered that he is creeping people out with that behavior, but I also don't want to let people talk to me that way---I do not want to quietly accept creepers, but I also do not want to tear into them for being thoughtless.
In the end I used it as an opportunity to talk to my girls about how we treat others, about how it is important to get away from people who make you feel uncomfortable. So it was a good learning experience and I have been thinking a lot about it since.