I've gotten spoiled. I really have.
Because I know that terrible male behavior exists.
I've experienced it, after all.
But I haven't experienced it much lately.
I blame my amazing group of friends (which includes countless awesome and feminist men).
I blame my introverted nature (which has led me into more and more fully being a homebody).
I blame my husband (who I actually love enough to want to spend my time with, therefore not being out on my own as much).
I blame my job and being a stepmom and our new life as homeowners (which means that we always have something to do and I don't go out as much).
Because it's all combined to make me a little oblivious to the world outside the pleasant and safe bubble I so often live in.
And I admit it, I can be a little oblivious all on my own. Mark usually has to tell me that I've just been checked out, because I'm so often lost in my own little world.
So you know the situation has to be pretty drastic when I notice male attention directed towards me.
It can be the drunk guy at a wedding who told me I "didn't have to break his heart" when I turned him down for a dance (because, well, I was working the damn wedding, not to mention that I wouldn't want to dance with him anyway).
It can be the slightly too aggressive "compliment" from a stranger.
Or it can be walking through Walmart last Saturday night.
You guys. It was bad. I could actually feel the looks. My skin crawled with them. I could literally see the male gaze blatantly following me as I walked by. And I did my best to ignore the guys who kept trying to catch my eye and talk to me when all I wanted to do was to be left alone to do my god damn shopping and get the hell back home.
It was more than annoying. It was infuriating, so much so that I practically exploded when I got home and Mark asked me what was wrong. (Kaylee told me I should have gone to Aldi, and the kid probably isn't wrong.)
I love dressing the way I do. I love wearing vintage clothes. I love wearing heels. I love having bright red hair and looking different than most people.
But God, if I don't sometimes wish that I wanted to blend in.
No. That's not true.
I don't want to blend in.
What I want, what I wish, is that all men could be like my friends, or like my husband. I wish that all men could pay a compliment without a complementary leer. I wish I didn't feel like I needed a male escort just to walk through a store without being harassed. I wish that I didn't feel the need to carry around a TigerLady defense tool just in case I get followed to my car one day, or worse. I wish that I didn't feel like the way I dress invites the wrong kind of attention.
Because the way I dress is nobody's business but my own. If I want to wear heels through Walmart, that shouldn't mean that I should expect and accept the intruding stares. If I want to wear a dress most days, then so what?
I don't know what the solution is, besides playing the long game of hoping that future generations of men will be better, will want to be better.
Because guys. This is pathetic.
I know it's possible. I've seen whole communities filled with men who can both enjoy and respect women. I know that better is possible.
But I also know that worse is out there.
I'm holding out hope for better. It's the only thing I know how to do.