This is a guest post by Donna Jay. Her opinions do not necessarily reflect mine, although they’re obviously sympatico enough for me to post this piece. Content note: sexism, sexualization of women. -GC
A strange thing happened today. I asked to share a table with a man at a coffee shop. He agreed. I sat down. We arranged our items on the table. Our interaction stopped there.
Okay, maybe this requires a little explanation. You see, recently I started pushing myself to go out more rather than staying home alone, feeling sorry for myself. I had an injury that consumed my life. So I would go to the coffee shop to write or sometimes take up a stool at the local bar and grab a beer or head to the park to lie on the grass and read. While interacting with another human was a possibility, it wasn’t necessarily my goal. I was becoming homebound. The longer I stayed in the harder it would be to go out, so I pushed myself to go out.
In the course of my simple outings, something strange kept happening – men assumed I was trying to pick them up. The interaction above was remarkable for what it did not include. After I sat down I did not hear any of the following:
• I have a girlfriend
• I am married
• I am not looking to meet anyone
• You’re really not my type
• I prefer (insert size, age or ethnicity here) women
Yes, the simple act of asking to share a table in a crowded coffee shop was seen as an invitation. I was looking for the sex. Except, of course, I was not. I only asked to share if no tables were available. I was looking for room for my ass in a chair and my laptop or book and a pot of tea on a table. My desires were very simple.
Similar things happened at bars and restaurants. When I would take the only open seat that happened to be near a man I would again get informed of their relationship status. If unattached, I might get to hear how I, a fiftyish, large, white-appearing woman did not meet their fuckability standards. After all, I was neither petite nor exotic nor young nor . . . . I was once informed that I might want to try the back of the bar; there were guys there who might be more interested. Clearly back bar guys like to watch women drink a beer and read from their kindle or watch TV. The back bar guys are all kinds of kinky that way.
This happened so often I started to question how I was presenting myself to the world. Continue reading “Sharing tables with strangers: Guest post by Donna Jay”