A 17 year old boy tried to bully me on the bus yesterday….he called me ugly, said I had a big forehead. Why? because I checked him on his aggression and pretty much what could have been considered assault of his girl (friend) on the bus. After we exchanged words, a tiny part of me thought maybe it was not my business and I should have kept my mouth shut. But the bigger part of me wishes I could have checked him better. Call him what he was a bully, and advise the young woman that he is no good for her. Advise her that to receive such violence at such a young age (at any age really) is destructive and sets her on a steady downward spiral. I wish i had found the words to say to her that love is kind…love does not publicly or privately disrespect…love does not publicly or privately humiliate and even more so love is not expressed through physical agression no matter how small.
But alas the right words always fail me when in a confrontation…my brain doesn’t like confrontation and so it just fights, threatens, attacks right back…if you continue to be aggressive with her I will call the police i said… Go ahead he said…its none of your business…do you see her saying anything? If she didn’t like what I was doing she would say something he said. The fact is I actually did SEE her saying something. She did not say it verbally but I saw her, head bowed, trying and failing to push him off her as he squeezed her into the corner by the back door of the bus…all while cussing her out loud enough that i and the other passengers could hear…. No one else said anything….I couldn’t not say anything...yes it is my business…i will not sit here and have you treat her this way in front of us on the bus i said….
After our exchange of words he noticeably stepped away from the young lady; his behaviour reduced now to aggressive whispers while barely touching her…. I may not have found the right words at the time but a bigger part of me is happy for the courage to have spoken up and at least curb the situation in that moment . I only hope that his wrath, – now probably meant for me- was not unleashed on her after they got home.
In the past weekend alone I have witnessed and have been a ‘victim’ of male aggression and micro-aggession. In my situation it was actually a professional argument gone south. The contractor whom i hired to do a job felt comfortable enough to charge at me because i chose not to stand down from my position in our exchange. The other incident i observed from a far again on a ttc bus. I mostly watched and occasionally heard as the man proceeded to scold and shame his girlfriend on the bus. It was another young couple this time with a newborn baby. He was possibly no older than 23 and she even younger. In a short bus ride i saw this man humiliate the young woman, albeit silently. This though was followed by caresses and a passionate goodbye as they parted ways. It was almost psychopathic the movement from scolding to caressing (two sides of the same sword) She also did not say anything, but her body language spoke volumes – upper body bowed over, tears slowly creeping down her cheeks, pouting and sulking while he berates her to look at him….she barely raises her head to say goodbye, then shamefully but longingly looking at him as the bus drives of and he asks her to blow him a kiss.
These incidents are worrying. Mostly because in all of the above situations including mine the men felt comfortable enough to perpetuate their aggressions in public. Is it because we are so very oblivious as a society to male aggression…so uncaring that aggressors are not afraid to act because they know we all think ‘it’s none of my business or that’s just the way things are?
It is worrying because in both the ttc situations these young women were no older than 17-18 at most. For them to already be in abusive relationships means somewhere along the way we are failing them. They are getting the messages that violence and abuse equals love.
Concerning because even in my situation i ended up giving the aggressor a forgiving tap on the wrist. I was poised to continue working with him , until my best friend and business partner said in no uncertain terms, that based on his behaviour we will NOT do business with him. His was not a micro-aggression he full on charged at me stopped only by a mutually respected colleague who stood in between him and me in the nick of time. She then proceeded to talk him down. There was no provocation on my part just a refusal to stand down from my position.
For a while, after i closed the conversation by no longer responding to him, he just stood and watched me. Seemingly baffled, I guess by my unwillingness to ‘defer’.
I have noticed that as I increasingly become more present as an unapologetic female i have developed very low tolerance for male bad behaviour. As i get older i see more and more how many men navigate this life with an expectation of deference from women, and by the same token women and as a wider society we simply allow and indoctrinate them into it. In my case even as I become more aware and have the intentions to check their aggressions, the sanctioned right to this deference is so ingrained in me that i still fall into accepting or easily forgiving bad behaviour.
I had my bestie to thank for the reminding me to not reward my aggressor’s terrible actions.
We do not have to accept male aggression and micro-aggressions. Women are equally capable with or without them. We are equally invaluable as they are and it is for us to police ourselves and them to ensure that they come correct.
It is for us to train our boys to know that girls are not less, but rather they are equal partners, bringing different but just as essential and important skills, tools and abilities to the table of humanity. I am happy that i remembered and chose to speak up last night on that TTC bus. I may not always catch it or act as I should when i do, but i am committed to act up more. We all must do so in order to create a better world.
#teachgirlsthattheyareenough #nomeansstop #standupforwomen
P.s. Readers if you’re indeed still out there. I know i owe you many tales, after all i did journey to the continent (Africa to be exact) and stayed a while. I wrote quite a bit while there to, but for reasons I may share later i did not post them here. Maybe I will…soon.
These recent happenings though affected me to the core and I felt compelled to release it on this space.
Always with Love
A Traveling Black Chick