Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Discrimination: Ur Doin It Wrong

One of the burdens of being relentlessly attractive is that you're constantly harassed by cat calls and wolf whistles as you walk down the street. You can barely go a foot without someone complimenting you on what your mama gave you or what a fine, fine piece of top quality ass you are. And the guilt that comes from causing distracted motorists to crash into street signs: it keeps you up at night! Yeah, it's tough being pretty.

Okay, I wouldn't know. Usually, the comments I get on the street fall within the spectrum of "damn, girl, you're TALL" and "Hey, sweetheart. What's wrong with your legs? Want me to teach you how to spread them?" I do get cat calls, but they're literally from my cat and therefore have the subtext of "feed me now before I slice you." Well, today the boys of Champaign-Urbana took their harassment game to a whole new level. I got my first cat call. Cat call...homophobic, to-mah-to.

Last night, I was walking to a friend's birthday party. Incidentally, the party had a "Crazy Hat" theme and I was decked out in an orange-and-blue toque (knit cap for you Americans) complete with a pom pom on top. In the dark, I kind of resembled "Where's Waldo?" (I'm not sure if this played into what happened or not). Also, I wasn't using my cane, so I was in full swamp-creature lurch mode. Inconspicuous as always.

As I neared the apartment, a silver Camry-Accord-Tercel-mid-level-manager-or-accountant-type car drove past me and slowed down. The passenger rolled down the window, leaned out, and informed me that I was a (wait for it...wait for it...) "fucking faggot." Now, I tend to assume that if someone's yelling at me from their car, they must know me, so my first reaction before I processed what he said was to wave and I had a moment of " isn't a friendly yell...Abort wave! Abort wave!" Too late. I half-waved and the guy (further enraged by my gesture) yelled, "Fuck you. You're fucking weird." In retrospect, what I heard as "fucking weird" was probably "fucking queer." Oh, men of Champaign-Urbana. You really know how to make a girl feel special.

Now, I've received my fair share of "hey, mister! You can't go in that washroom," which comes with the territory when you're six-foot-two, have shortish hair and live in a climate that often requires you to bundle yourself in warm clothing to the point where it's impossible to tell whether you're a male, a female, or the Michelin Man. These comments, however, are given in the spirit of misunderstanding and the commenter is usually way more embarrassed than I am, especially when I choose to smile politely and point out that I am the proud owner of a lady garden.

So yes, in the eyes of the frat-boy-gang-rapists-in-training crowd, I am a "fucking faggot/queer/weirdo." Which is kind of embarrassing on their part. Obviously, homeboy in the small-penis-mobile needs to go back to Hate-Based Stereotyping 101. There must be some sort of remedial class he could take to help him properly identify markers of otherness and respond with the correct slur for the situation.

Because, Lord knows I walk like a lot of things...Gary Busey on the season premiere of "Celebrity Rehab with Doctor Drew," Jack Nicholson at the end of The Shining, pretty much any Frankenstein/swamp creature/alien in a 1950s B movie, but I do not walk like a stereotypical gay man. I mean, haven't these assholes seen "Will and Grace?" Do I sashay? Do I flounce? Do I strut? No, no, and not without pulling a muscle.

So while the disability-studies buff in me is interested in this guy's conflation of disability and sexuality, all the rest of me thinks, holy shit people. Watch a fucking episode of "Glee." Like, what cultural markers is this guy picking up on? The fact that I am wearing women's jeans...because I happen to be a woman? The fact that I was wearing a toque with a pom pom on top? Because that's not the garb of a stereotypical gay man. That's the garb of a stereotypical lumberjack. I believe the term you're searching for, you homophobic motherf*cker, is "cripple" or "overachieving bitch who thinks she's so great." Discrimination: ur doin it wrong.

I would have happily mentioned this to my hate-mongering friend face-to-face, had he the cojones to speak to me directly. (Actually, it would have probably turned out to be cane-to-face or knee-to-groin). But, of course, men like that thrive on shouting things from car windows and speeding away. Which is why they rarely get a good look at the people they're hating on.


  1. I can't believe I live in a town with such idiots. I'm sorry this happened but you rock, and yeah, well said. I think you've hit on exactly why this happened (i.e.--it tells us all about the person who yelled this, and nothing about you). On the tall-girl, hey-mister front...I'm right there with ya. I hope you're safe and sound in BC.