Hey honey, come over here. My friend will buy you a drink, but you’ve got to sit on his lap.”
Some drunk guy at a bar said this to me when I was 16 and there singing with a band. I dealt, and still do deal with stuff like that a lot, and most women will tell you the same. Dark I know, but I’m going somewhere with this. Life is hard and wonderful and challenging and beautiful and shitty and amazing. Women have a little bonus, an extra experience of often being animalized, infantilized, objectified, or sexualized in order to make others feel superior to them.
I can’t tell you how many times in my not-so-distant past I disagreed with someone and almost in the next breath they asked me to “get everyone coffee” or they might call me “honey” or “sweetie” or some other patronizing pet name carefully placed in earshot of others to make it seem like, A. I’m sleeping with them, B. That I’m an idiot woman and should be treated like a child or C. That I am beneath them and they outrank me.
They may make a “funny” reference to my clothes or something I’ve said off-hand like “I’ll make an itinerary,” (response)“I’ll bet you will dirty girl.” This one got a few laughs and at the time my naïveté was such that I thought I had to laugh too if I wanted to be a “cool girl.”
How many times have we seen or heard people, yes people not just men, refer to an impressive woman in the most base and degrading way just because they are intimidated and uncomfortable with them? Saying things like “I’d like to just hold that down and” (insert humping motion here) or “she’s definitely advertising, that’s an easy ride.” These are examples I have literally heard people say. Yeah we get it, she’s smart or beautiful or talented and you feel intimidated, so you tear her down.
Photo by Lo Hunter
I know what you’re thinking. Paige, what about men? They get infantilized at work too, getting called son, kid or boy. I know, I get that and it’s wrong, but men are not sexualized in the same way. Straight men don’t have their sexuality used against them like women do, and they don’t have the same history; those things make them tough to compare. At work I’ve had men tell people they were sleeping with me when they weren’t, I’ve had Women make fun of my hair or clothes or claim I was sleeping with the boss when I wasn’t. This is always a power move, but it only ever works on the weak-minded.
They are insecure, they have no idea how transparent they are or how foolish they seem when they do this. They deserve pity and that’s all.
Why does this continue? how can we curb this bullshit? Why do we insist on destroying good things? We can call it out when we see it, so it is not confused with something funny or a strong move to make on someone else. We can recognize it more easily and not reward it with a laugh or jump on the wagon. Maybe snark is the best response: “She kick your puppy or something?” Whatever we do, we can’t just let this behavior slide anymore. Aren’t we past this? Aren’t we better than this? Celebrate beauty, intelligence, and talent I say! Admire it and be glad it survives in your world. And when life knocks you down, stand up, look it right in the eye and say, “You Hit Like A Little Bitch!”
Paige Rasmussen is a Bozeman born filmmaker, musician and writer. Connect with her on Instagram @paige59715