I had a classic Freya-owned moment this evening.
I was coming in from the parking lot, trying to carry way too many things as usual, when I saw that my pothead neighbor was holding the gate open for me. I’m not a fan of pot (or potheads, or the potheads who hang out in my parking lot), but he was being polite, so I thanked him and went in. He gave me a look and said, “Hey, no problem, beautiful.”
Now, this is a guy who has been giving me looks for a while now, so I’m pretty sure it was meant in a Hey, baby way. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but still; my reactions to this comment say a lot, I think. My reactions to being told I’m beautiful, even in kind of a sleazy way such as this, are a whole lot more complicated than I’d realized.
My initial reaction was, “Who do you think you are, saying anything about me or my body? Jackass.” Followed quickly by, “Well, I am beautiful. At least he’s observant.” Followed by ten minutes of listening to misc. voices outside, thinking, “I don’t feel safe picking up my laundry right now for fear of getting hit on. Dammit.” I’ve always been uncomfortable being hit on; lighthearted flirting is always a good thing, unless I’m not really in the mood (which would quickly become evident), but being hit on has always freaked me out a little, no matter who it is. I don’t like being hit on by strangers, or guys I don’t know well; and I really don’t like being hit on when I’m at home and have my guard down. It’s created quite an internal conundrum, what with me working for a sexy, vivacious love goddess and all.
Out in the world, I can do the “Yes, I am gorgeous, don’t you wish you had me? Too bad; you don’t get any” vibe. I’m good of it.; I kind of have to be. I like to strut around and look pretty, but I don’t like interacting with unexpected new people. I can deal with them, I’d just prefer not to. One of my good friends likes to tell people about the time that we were at a shopping at a Con and someone randomly started petting my butt. (I had been wearing my leather dress, granted; but still–boundaries.) When I finally realized that someone was touching me (the leather is thick; it took a while), I gave her a look that, I’m told, can peel paint off of walls and kill a man at fifty paces. There was also a raised eyebrow and an “Excuse me; are you touching my ass?” involved (italics in the original). At which point I got a startled apology from the woman, and she slowly backed away. (As a head’s up: women do not get a free pass on this. Sorry, ladies.)
(To a certain extent, though, I can understand her reaction–yards of soft Ravenswood leather, draping my derriere; I’d have wanted to pet me, too. But again–boundaries, people. Respect them.)
My point here being, that I can do a killer ice queen act if I need to. I do it too well, sometimes, but it really does seem to cut down on the random sexual harassment crap that I hear other women get. I see very little of it, comparatively. But this all makes for lots of inner conflict, being owned by a goddess of love and beauty as I am. And the fact that the goddess I work for is Freya, who is all about that combination of sex and power and entitlement, doesn’t help.
Exhibit A: In my opinion, Freya likes it when random people pay attention to me, check me out, call me beautiful, etc. It means that I am being valued as the beautiful being I am and being given my due. In some ways, I am winning when crap like this happens. (You know, “Look, honey! They say you’re beautiful, too! I’m not biased!” “Thanks, Mom.”) We both would prefer more respectful versions of it, yes; but still. Freya is also the goddess of personal boundaries, and requires that I defend mine; so, inner clashes ensue.
Exhibit B: I’m an introvert. I don’t like attention, unless I’m already comfortable with whoever it is and am in the mood.
Exhibit C: When I get this kind of attention, I simultaneously feel dirty, pleased, and mad at myself for not going in for the kill. It’s a uncomfortable, unbalanced mix. Then I think, but why don’t more guys do this? Why don’t girls do this to me? I work for a frigging sex and love goddess, for crying out loud! What am I doing wrong? Clearly something is wrong.
Exhibit D: (the kicker) Whenever I feel threatened, such as when some random guy is “Hey, baby”-ing me, my amber strut bitch side comes out. If you know me, you’ve may have seen it –I narrow my eyes, slow down, plant my feet with each step, swing my hips dangerously far out, and come at whoever it is like a battering ram. It’s the “I will take on a whole army of my enemies with just my hips, my attitude, and my amber. Bring it, asshole. I dare you,” attitude. Which, surprisingly enough, has served me well in many situations. However, this does nothing to diffuse a sexual harassment situation. The strut just makes things worse. YMMV.
Since when did calling somebody “beautiful” become sexual harassment, anyway? I tell people that they are beautiful or gorgeous or adorable or lovely all the time. I am constantly repressing my instinct to go up to random people and tell them this. How do these people actually feel when I do tell them this? Am I coming across as a harasser? I don’t want to be that person.
Sigh. All the thoughts that pop into my head when some guy tells me, off-handedly, that I’m beautiful. It feels like it should be much simpler, somehow. *headshake*