Monday, November 19, 2012

Boston Scene: The Girl on 73 Bus

To get to The Game yesterday, we took the 73 Bus, which dropped us at the Harvard station, and then hoofed it the rest of the way. It was a pretty, sunny day, cool but not cold. Almost brisk, but in reality, just about perfect.

The bus was running slow and was about 10 minutes late. No big whoop, but by the time it arrived, seven more people had joined us at the bus stop. The bus was packed -- SRO.

Boarding with us was a late-arriving girl who had a pretty affected look going on. Black pleather wedge heels, black semi-sheer tights, a too-short skirt, a handbag with a picture of Holly Golightly on it (RED FLAG!)... and then it got really... interesting.

Her dark hair was cut in a hipster/punk cut (you know, long on one side only) and interspersed with inch-wide blond horizontal streaks. She had a pretty severe nostril ring (maybe she's part bull?)... her eye makeup was flared at the outer edges to provide a sort of "Batman" motif, I guess you'd call it. She was listening to something on her earbuds, I couldn't pick up exactly what but I can say it was loud enough to hear above the din of the crowded bus. Capped off was some sort of beret.

As I said, the bus was packed. She was standing slightly behind and to the left of us, as we stood sideways facing the windows on the driver's side.

Only moments after departure from the stop, she proclaimed loudly "Stop looking at me!"

A moment later: "What's your problem?"

Then: "God! Every time I turn around!"

Then: "Really?"

All of this happened in the span of perhaps two or three minutes.

I imagine that many or most women who get lasciviously ogled must, unless they're getting paid for it, feel degraded and insulted by it. Males are visual creatures, and it's not unnatural to check out eye candy. Women do it, too. But there are ways to do this subtly, and ways to not seem a creeperton.

On a packed bus with no way of being unable to see what's inches away from you, I don't know if this guy was leering or not. He couldn't have been more than four feet away from me but I couldn't even see him entirely, and not his face at all.

If he was being disgusting, that's disgusting. If he just had no other place to look, this young woman was being over the top.

My vote was that she was being over the top.

Look, I understand the very dangerous ice one treads when a woman is victimized and someone else minimizes that victimization by saying her clothing was provocative. Was this woman being victimized?

I suppose if she feels she was, then that's the standard. But that's also a risky path to take. There's some flimsy subjectivity in each situation. Did she feel uncomfortable about how someone was looking at her? Apparently. Was the person being a nuisance? In her mind, yes. But does that make it so?

But I think it's disingenuous to have striped hair, exaggerated makeup, piercings, a nearly exposed undercarriage, overly loud music and a Holly Golightly bag -- and bitch about someone looking at you.

Toots, everything you did was designed to get people to look at you. Even your loud complaining on a bus packed with people.

At Eliot, the bus stopped and we exited, so I don't know if she got off at that stop, or the situation worsened, or what happened. But if our paths ever cross again, I'm going to be curious to see if her behavior is affected or authentic.

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