Thursday, June 23, 2011

Doctors Have Needs Too

My mission today: create a map of 36 different medical drop-in clinics and auto-body/collision repair shops, go to them and drop off marketing materials for work. 

Despite the fighting I did with google maps and mapquest, I was able to get on the road around noon today.  On my list, Dr J's Auto Clinic.  His sign has a stethoscope on it.

"Hi I'm from Masterpiece Medical Massage.  We specialize in car accident victims.  I have some marketing materials here; do you think I could leave them with you, in a waiting area perhaps?"

After determining with a glance, that he didn't really have a waiting area -only a few chairs with minimal padding lined up along the walls- I waited for him to suggest something.  He took the book and cards I handed him and suggested I tack the cards up on a cork board.

"So, you just do medical massage?" he asked coming around the counter.

*Feigning innocence* "As opposed to what?"

"Well, massage for, relaxation..."

"Well, you know the business model works best when we can bill auto insurance.  Although we also take a letter of protection from lawyers, you know, if someone is waiting to settle their case."

"So, you never do other massages?"

"Oh, well, you can call and ask.  Sometimes, if the person is someone we know or recommended by a current client we'll see someone who hasn't been in an accident."

In the future, I think I should be more direct and just say we never do happy endings.  Period.  Why should I play along like I don't know what is being talked about when someone's being indirect and rather creepy?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Fuel For Fear

I chose a Smith's gas station.  I figured that in 4 months of living here using my Smith's grocery card, with no car of my own, I'd probably amassed a good discount on Smith's gas.  Was the place closed though?  The booth was dark, no other cars were in the lot; but then it was 11pm.  I drove in and found that paying by card was still possible.

After fighting with my rewards card a few minutes, everything started flowing normally.  I had just decided to stop the pump (it's the company car, I didn't think I needed to fill it entirely) when around between the two pumps a guy appeared and asked for $0.40 to make a phone call.

I froze, scared into silence.  The only thing I could think was to extricate the car from the pump and get going.  The man said something about not trying to scare me or something and, to his credit, he did not approach me further.

"If you don't want to, you can just say" he offered.

It's not that I wouldn't have given him $0.40.  It was the threat I felt, even though, in retrospect, he didn't seem to pose one.  If the money had been in my pocket, I would have fished it out, though I would have felt scared to go close enough to him to hand it over.  The change was in my bag in the car though.  That meant I would have had to turn my back on him, and climb partially into the car to retrieve it.  The thought of letting him out of my sight so close to me was overwhelming.  What if he had a gun?  What if he attacked me?  But more to the crux of what I was feeling, "what if I feel more fear?"

Perhaps those thoughts sound over the top.  It's sad for the many people who are safe in this world that they may get reactions of fear directed towards them because of the acts of few others.  I felt bad (after getting over the fear) that this man, whom I otherwise would have helped, instead got a fearful picture of himself mirrored back.  I hoped he wouldn't think it was because he had brown skin.  I've been fearful of white women in similar situations.  Still, safe doesn't mean aware or acting in smart ways.  He could take home the awareness that approaching someone late, in the dark, without anyone else around, can produce fear. 

It's been pointed out to me that I had a gas nozzle in my hand which would have been an effective deterrent should it have come to that.  I suppose this is true, but in the midst of the "fight, flight or freeze" reaction, this isn't something that would have occurred to me.  Had it, my thinking would have befuddled the idea in that I would still have had to turn my back on him, get partially into the car, and then go near him to give him the change -none of which would have made toting a gas nozzle plausible.  And it brings up another aspect which is that I was embarrassed that I was afraid of him.  I didn't want him to know.  I thought it would offend him -and people's reactions to me when they are offended upset me.

"Yeah... not right now."  I replied.  "Thanks for being cool."

I was thanking him for not getting mad at me for my reaction and my refusal to help.  I was thanking him for offering me not just a way out, but a way to talk, to end the situation and the fear, which I couldn't come up with myself.

I wonder that people who find themselves the recipients of my fear would lay responsibility for this issue back on me.  I agree that my fear is not always applied to harmful situations, and I am working on it.  But one can't choose when to apply fear to situations that are similar in make up.  Those who intend to do harm don't approach you with that intent clearly stated.  And fear is a chemical reality.  When the pathway gets triggered, there it goes.  It isn't a choice.

I expect it then comes down to whether or not you/I want someone to have to deal with potential fear, regardless of whether we are intending harm.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Shoot The Slut

Okay, this is actually a link to share.  Here it is:

The crux of the article (since I know it's tough to read linked articles) is that a police officer in NYC stopped a Dutch woman for wearing a short skirt while riding a bicycle under the pretense that her amazing womanly flesh would be distracting and cause car accidents and the like.  (Short in the picture in that article looks like upper mid thigh.)  He let her go with only remonstration upon hearing that she's not from NYC.  Like... you can ticket for wearing a short skirt anyway?

The article does a good job of outlining the usual reasons this is ridiculous and insulting.  Here's an additional thought.  Why is a woman's body so dangerously distracting that it would cause people (read: men sexually interested in women) so much distraction?

I think there's something to be said for biology.  After all, hormones are powerful chemicals.  But I don't think there's anything in androgen and testosterone that makes someone turn their eyes off the road.  Distracting?  Okay sure.  In fact, I would find someone wearing a burka distracting  because it's not something I see every day here.  However, I don't think that potential distraction alone (especially for something you probably see 50 times a day in NYC) can account for such a danger.

I would suggest that sex (or desire of) as an accepted excuse for doing something wrong or incorrectly has more to do with how we think about sex.  How many people (men, women and all the other genders possible) get as much sex as they want?  Not many, I'd say.  And yes, I include women in that based on people I know, although I notice that women hold that desire differently than most men.

What keeps people from having the sex they want?  The way we think about sex is very limiting.  Starting with ideas around sex being bad in circumstances before marriage, or for pleasure, or for money; and going all the way to ideas that if one is straight then sex with someone of similar biology is impossible to enjoy and that natural sexual urges are "abnormal" or "sick".  In other words, much of our thinking about sex is that it's bad.

I realize that this is a very edgy thing to talk about, but what about adults who are turned on by children?  Okay, very clear here: having sex with, having revealing pictures of, or making those pictures of children is against the law.  But, behaving within the limits of the law, someone could still have their fantasies and enjoy those.  The creepitude factor comes into this scenario largely when we see evidence of someone using someone else (a child in this case) for their own purposes and with disregard to the other person's needs and welfare.  The extra creepitude around kids is the fact that they have much less power and much less ability to say what they want and have that respected than an adult has.  Therefore it would be super difficult to ever have a situation where no coercion or power difference was present with a child.

Whatever your turn on is, if you and any partners you have can say that your expression of it feels good and only good/other positive feelings, it's probably okay.  (Again, kids don't legally have a voice in saying sex with them is okay, so that doesn't count.)

Ideas that there are right and wrong ways to have sex often center around actual activities.  Like, "it's wrong to hit someone for sexual/sensual pleasure".  My response to that is "maybe".  It's wrong if the other person didn't consent.  It's wrong if it feels bad to anyone involved.  But if it feels good and the other person has literally said "yes, this is something I want" (and he is not under the influence, and and not feeling coerced, and is in his right mind)... then have at it!  So, I say that "right and wrong" ways to have sex should center around intent and consent rather than the activity involved. 

Ideas that some of what we may want are "bad" keep us from having sex.  Not being able to think outside our "box" about sex also does.  Thinking about sex with all that charged emotion -it's bad in so many cases, I can only have sex in this one way, no one ever wants to have sex with me, my body has to be kept covered- calls up an obsession and a dichotomy when media feeds us sexual images nonstop.  We have these messages that sex and our bodies are bad, but that we should be having sex all the time and we should be sexy.

What would happen if we were able to relax about it all?  What would happen if ideal images of sex and sexiness weren't fed to us by media or other people?  What would happen if sex was something we experienced as part of ourselves and together, openly but without forcefully putting our experiences in the way of others?  What would happen if sex was an expression, a communication, a pleasure, rather than a conquest, a battle, a never ending search?  What would happen if the police officer could say to a woman wearing a short skirt that he feels turned on by the way she looks without an expectation around her reaction and without trying to get anything from her, even attention?  What would happen if the woman felt appreciated by the respect in his voice and not like she was being objectified or asked to take care of any of his needs?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Starting At The Top

I was in Albertson's today to buy a bus pass.  Handy that they sell them at Albertson's since I was nowhere near the Transportation Center and wouldn't be able to be until after they were already closed.

Walking out I noticed a man who gave me a visual once over.  I didn't notice which "type" of look this was because I was trying desperately to not give him any encouragement.  There's nothing like eye contact that encourages people to say or do creepy things.

"Nice hat, Baby..." he leered.

In retrospect (where quips and comebacks are always on cue), I wish I'd said "It is and I'm not a baby" or "I'm not a baby" or just walked on without saying anything.  Instead I said a curt "Thank you" and walked past without looking at him.

Someday in the future a response I'm proud of will just fall out of my mouth at the right time.

Edit:  The next day I got onto the bus on my way to work.  A man likely around the same age as the one previously in this story (though maybe a little older) said to me "Nice hat, Ma'am", to which I turned, looked him in the eyes and said "Thank you."  He then went on to remark about how even the ladies in NM wear hats and isn't that funny?

Saturday, June 4, 2011

"¿Hablas Español?"

The man asked this straddling his bicycle and hopping to keep up with me, mostly still walking away.  He'd ridden past me going the opposite way, but pulled a mid-sidewalk U-y. 

"No.  I don't speak Spanish" I answered him.  I always get nervous when people on the street single me out to connect with.  It's usually asking for change, or to use my phone; and I feel put in a difficult and scary situation either way.
"Oooohaaaah, okay... do you know... I need... v'runrun"  (Okay, I don't know what that last word he used was.  That's the way it sounded to me.
"Where can I get v'runrun?"
"I don't know what you're asking for -" I started to detach.  There's something about my training that makes it very difficult for me to not listen to people.
"I am single.  I need sex."

I don't know what it is about a t-shirt, mid length shorts that are too big for me and sneakers that makes me look like a prostitute.  Or maybe he thought I knew where the red light district is.

"I'm sorry.  I'm not a prostitute."

Interestingly he didn't feel all that creepy.  But the fear it raised in me was significant.  To an extent there isn't a big logical connection with the event and the fear, and then there also kind of is.  What if me saying "no" was something he chose to ignore?  I admit turning my back on him and walking away was nerve wracking.  I wanted to turn and check behind me every second.  I was hyper-vigilant noticing a pickup that turned into a parking lot in front of me then pulled up alongside me and rolled the window down.  Then, when I walked past, it drove out of that lot and into the next one right in front of me.  I also noticed other vehicles slowing way down near me while I was walking well away from the road, a guy at a bus stop who yelled after me as I walked past "Hey you wanna take a bus?  Wanna take a bus?", a woman asking for spare change at a crosswalk for diapers, and a man stumbling toward me asking for something I didn't make out as I walked past without trying to understand him.

Adrenaline was strong enough that by the time I made it home, I felt like I was walking on a little spinning cloud.  I also decided to carry my pepper spray in my hand.