Two posts from divergent axes of my reading lists have popped up with discussions of the Rebecca Watson and Richard Dawkins thing (and another post, including original video with transcript.) Context: a woman posts in her blog that she felt uncomfortable with a situation alone with a man in an elevator, someone else writes a post on their blog responding to same, and in comments to the second post Dawkins, a noted biologist, atheist, and Old English White Guy, went out of his way to suggest Watson should STFU.
It reminded me of something that happened a couple of weeks ago, that I am not so happy about, either!
If you saw a woman on the train with a book whose subject catches your interest, would you talk to her?
Depends on context, which I will elaborate in comments.
Now, would you talk to her if she was using said book as a spine-out lap-desk, laptop balanced on her backpack?
Depends on context, which I will elaborate in comments
Ticky suspects a trick question in this poll.
Ticky supports train commutes
Ticky for entertaining nonfiction
I don't think I communicated "oh? What? Huh? I'm sorry, this isn't a good time" very gracefully. On the other hand, I was working on a down-to-the-wire school application, hoping the train wouldn't jolt my laptop off its perch, and I had a soft-voiced 30something squinting across the bike racks at my book, trying to talk over my GPA math. Calculating cumulative GPA across four institutions before caffeine is enough effort without the little voice saying be nice to the man.
And after he'd gone away, I flipped my Lise Meitner biography spine-in.
This is the 21st century. I'm supposed to parse this as an isolated event. But it's not. Why are you talking to me? I wanted to ask. You're interrupting me. I didn't hear an 'excuse me'. Why am I feeling I'd be the rude one to say I'm busy? We're supposed to relate to other men and women as people first, but as a woman, I'm also fighting the voice asking, What does he want? Is this just awkwardness, or a more serious problem? Logically, no, but logic kicks in after your pulse has jumped.
This isn't fishing for sympathy. I think I overreacted and could have handled the situation better. Men don't have the monopoly on socially maladroit moments! An interruption by a man or woman would have irritated me at that GPA-calculating moment. However, a man trying to bend your lap-desk / biography into a conversation on nuclear war has an extra weight and shadow that he hopefully will keep in mind. Elevators and Caltrain baby bullet trains have one thing in common: when they're moving, it's your words that might be your first defense.