Thursday, April 27, 2017

Misogyny on the Dance Floor

My birthday was earlier this month, I turned 34 years old. My whole family went to visit my parents in California. An 11 hour trip in a van with four kids that isn't unpleasant, but not a whole lotta fun either.

It was an amazing trip, eating, shopping, laughing and having a great time with family. My parents took us all out to dinner at a local Casino that is basically their home away from home.

A Michael Jackson cover band was playing that night and my mom knew I would love it. So we ate late, took the kids home and went back to listen to some awesome music, have a few drinks and chill out.

I must admit I looked great. I had on a new lace coral dress, black ballet flats and a soft pink floppy sun hat with a flower on it. I even had a new lip stain from Sephora in Wisteria that I was rocking.

I bounced, swayed and grooved, in my seat, to the music, smiling at my beloved husband and getting tipsy with my favorite uncle.

I watched with envy as dozens on people flooded the dance floor, women, men; some by themselves, some with friends, others with partners. I wanted to dance, but my husband doesn't quite like it and I felt out of place without the gaggle of girlfriends I would have normally danced with.

Then it happened...My song played. Thriller.. I love this song, have loved it since I was a child. I quickly got up ad moved out to the dance floor, by myself.

I am sorry to say it was a mistake and I am even sorrier that I feel like I need to acknowledge it was a mistake.

There I am dancing, smiling, minding my own business when suddenly a guy, much larger than myself starts dancing next to me. I smile at him and go back to what I was doing...I mean the dance floor was fucking packed. He gets closer and closer, I move back a bit from him, turn to the side, but he still he doesn't take the hint, I shake my head no and move a bit farther away, I don't want him to think in any way I am ok with him crowding me. Had he stayed a foot or more back I might have even danced "with" him.

Finally his stomach touches mine, and I pause, I put a hand on his shoulder and push him away from me and it's a fairly hard shove. I quickly sashay away near a group of girls who are dancing together. I have never wished more to be surrounded by my female friends than I was in that moment. What about me dancing alone gave him the right to get up in my personal space? My dress? My smile? Or I KNOW the fact I was a woman alone! DING DING DING!

He follows me, dancing behind me and I consider walking off the floor and back to my table, I am no longer enjoying myself and about ready to turn around and tell this guy to fuck off. Apparently pushing him away and moving away from him was not enough of a hint that I wasn't interested.  I move into the group of ladies giving one a friendly grin, she grins back and then frowns as the guy bumps into her to, seemingly, follow me.

Suddenly I feel a presence right next to me and a hand on my shoulder. I whip around because this guy is about to get a face full of me being my most bitchy when to my relief it is my dad. He looks silly bopping right along next to me, but now creeper is no where in sight.

I am horrified by how relieved I am. I don't know if my dad saw my distress or just decided to join me but I was grateful in a way that I have rarely been. My husband showed up a few seconds later and we finished out the song together.

How fucked up is it that I couldn't just be a woman alone enjoying a song? How screwed up is it that my obvious NO LEAVE ME ALONE signals were not good enough and it took my dad and husband showing up to alert this douche that I wasn't interested and he better back off. And how sick is it that I a proud feminist and normally strong alpha female was put in a situation where  not only I wished I had been there with girlfriends but that I was beyond relieved to have men "claim" me as theirs so that I could huddle under the umbrella of their invisible protection.

Even worse, as I write this, I think....Did I lead him on? Did I not do enough to make him back off? Was I too friendly, too enticing? Too nice? Then I stop. FUCK THAT SHIT! No one has the right to make you feel uncomfortable. If he wanted to dance with me he should have asked and then accepted the answer. My body and space are my own, I am under no obligation to share them with anyone.

I've faced my share of patriarchy bullshit, sexism and misogyny in the past. I have been cat called and treated less because I am a woman, but it has been a while since a man got up in my personal space and wouldn't take no for an answer.

Let me tell you ladies. If ever you are in a bar or on a dance floor and feel unsafe or as if you are being harassed, come find me. I will put my arm around you and pretend to be your BFF if you need me to. And guys? Don't just assume because she is alone, because she looks nice, because she is smiling that she in any way wants you, dumb ass.

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