T his past summer, I found myself at a party and in a bit of a sticky situation. Here’s the story:
As I was walking down the hallway, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a small chalkboard hanging on the wall. Taking a closer look, its title read, “House Rules.” Here we go, I thought bitterly. Scanning the rules quickly, my eyes fell upon Rule #3: “No fat chicks.” And to drive this point home, #3 was accompanied by Rule #5: “Remember, no fat chicks.” Disgusted, I didn’t think twice before furiously rubbing that shit out with my palm.
Meanwhile, some dude (let’s call him Dude for the sake of simplicity) had seen what I had done and didn’t take too kindly to it. So Dude started talking smack. He told me that I have “no right” to erase their house rules, about this being private property, that we live in a free country, and that everyone’s entitled to their (bullshit) opinions. Blah blah blah, enter ways to justify oppressive behaviour here. True to form, I started arguing with him.
Our dispute rapidly descended into a series of verbal cheap shots aimed by Dude at yours truly. In a matter of minutes, I learned about his contempt for women, his aversion to fat people, and his distaste for lesbians. To add insult to injury, during his diatribe, he mocked me, mimicked me, and waved a pair of drumsticks in my face. It was straight up disrespect, and it infuriated me.
This brief but heated interaction tapped into years and years of anger I had felt – still feel – toward our society’s homophobia, sexism, and fatphobia. Dude’s words and behaviour threw me back to the hordes of boys and men that I have known whose reactions toward women run the gamut from subtle disdain to sexual violence. I considered all the ways I had reacted to this sort of treatment in the past. Submitting to this disrespect had meant accepting the idea that women are inferior, worthless, stupid, and weak. It had meant internalizing the devaluation that men like this had impressed on me. Talking back when disrespected had meant being called a crazy bitch, being dismissed, getting reprimanded and punished, or being ostracized.
It’s only through laboured politicization that I have come to understand the roots of this sort of violence and the anger it generates. We grow up learning that entire groups of people are deemed less valuable and less human than others. It sucks, to the say the least. With this truism in tow, I’ve become more and more convinced that when all else is lost, all we have left is our dignity. For that reason, preserving it, defending it, and fighting for it has become central to my actions.
So how did this altercation with Dude end? I grabbed hold of his drumsticks and kicked the douchebag in the nuts. If I could do it again, the only thing I would do differently would be to kick him harder.
Militant feminist: 1. Patriarchy: 0.
Lisa Miatello pens a column on this parchment every second week. Dignify her at firstname.lastname@example.org.