Monday, August 6, 2012

How would you respond?

So I'm afraid that Dr. Koshary's fear has been realized: I had a baby and stopped blogging. I won't say that this was Dr. K's greatest fear, but it was, at least, a minor, trifling concern that he expressed in the comments to one of my posts.

Anyway, I've compounded my unreadiness to post (because of having a baby) by convincing myself--as I always do--that I need to have some earth-shatteringly clever post to mark my re-entry into blogging. And then I would compose mildly amusing posts in my head, decide that they would be said earth-shatteringly clever post, forget how they went, and try to reconstruct them (still in my head) with little success. And then I'd, like, go to sleep or something. And so it went.

Whatever. I'll just jump right in here with this little incident from the afternoon:

I was walking down my quiet, residential, small-town street to a meeting. Two girls (around 12ish? I couldn't see them very well) were sitting in the open cargo space of a van at a house on the other side of the street, with the door open. One of them yelled, "Hey, girl, you want some milk?"

I figured that she was talking to someone in the house and ignored her. But when I drew abreast (ha ha) of the house, I saw that they were looking at me. I smiled, as one does in a small neighborhood in a small town. One of them repeated, "You want some milk?"

"No, thanks," I replied uncertainly, since milk seemed like a weird thing to be selling out of a van.

Then, when I was a little bit past them, one yelled at my back, "Those are some big boobs you've got there!"


In my inner monologue, I used the fact that I was running late for my meeting as reason not to turn around and demand to know why these young women were heckling women about their breast size, but in fact, I still haven't come up with a witty retort, and this is the reaction I almost always have when other people (= men, up until today) shout comments about my body. I'm curious: What would you have said to these girls, if anything?

All I can figure, honestly, is that they've seen me (discretely, let's note) nursing my son on the front porch of my house, because "want some milk?" is a pretty weird body-heckling comment, isn't it? The truth is, though--well, they're not wrong. But still, I'm not endowed to the point that it would like call to you from across the freaking street to comment.

Anyway, isn't that just strange? I have never been yelled at by girls. I'm rather appalled, to tell the truth. But I do expect that they'll grow out of such behavior, and maybe even be embarrassed about it one day. (Perhaps on the day when men start yelling at them. Unfortunately.)


What Now? said...

Weird! Maybe this was a case of on-the-cusp-of-adolescence girls working through some of their feelings about adult women's bodies but doing so in a very public and totally rude way? That's the nicest interpretation I can put on it.

Anyway, welcome back!

Fie upon this quiet life! said...

Probably ignoring it is the best way to deal, but I think I might have rolled my eyes with exaggerated disgust and yelled back, "Grow up!" or maybe I would have popped my shirt open and sprayed some milk their way. Or I might have yelled back, "Jealous?"

Regardless, you should feel free to feed your kid wherever you want. In fact, you're a good example to those girls for doing so. Maybe when they grow up and get a clue, they'll realize that.

Welcome back!

Dr. Koshary said...

What Now's hypothesis sounds as reasonable as anything to me.

And I join in WN's welcome back, Heu! I am amused and flattered that, in my small way, I was the first thing you thought to mention in this post. Do not worry about earth-shattering cleverness! (If we all held to such a standard, academic blogging would grind to a complete halt.)

Blog when you can. I can't be the only one who feels less alone in the cold world by reading fresh blog updates from distant colleagues.

feMOMhist said...

sadly yes, while one would have hoped that feminism would have ended street harassment, instead it just seems to have made it an equal opportunity activity. And FWIW I breast fed all over the place, and never covered up. If you are on your own porch no one has any business staring at you

Pilgrim/Heretic said...

(Echoing the welcome-backs! If I ever get myself back to blogging, I'll probably start by copying & pasting your second paragraph.)

My reaction would have been to ask "Why do you think that's an appropriate comment to make?" Because it's just a little snarky, and also an honest question.

undine said...

Welcome back! I'd say that their being 12 and maybe freaked out by their own bodies has a lot to do with the yells, although that's pretty obnoxious of them.