Vaguebooking or, Being Part of The Problem

Somebody stop me. No, really, somebody, please. I just engaged in possibly the most passive-aggressive, teenaged girl type response to anything that could possibly effect me. I posted an update on Facebook.

No wait, it gets worse. I didn’t post anything directly relating to the thing that was bugging me. No sir, I posted a Lily Allen song lyric that I thought summed up the situation dandily. In case you’re curious, the lyric in question is:

‘Cuz we hate what you do and we hate your whole crew so please don’t stay in touch.

Pretty clever, eh? And what exactly could put me in such an irrational state of mind that I temporarily reverted to a teenaged phase of mine which has recently acquired the term “vaguebooking”? Dealing with a misogynistic bigot, and six people who smiled and nodded along with him.

Because teenage girls who wear yoga pants and spaghetti strap tank tops are dressed like hookers, according to this semi-retired teacher I encountered at curling.

For the moment, I’ll ignore the victim-blaming, self-hate-mongering, abusive-relationship-elevating point of view that this guy was propagating, and worse, teaching to children, teenagers, and young adults.

I’ll ignore the question of what violates a dress code, and the question of how dress codes are created and enforced (in most of the ones I’ve seen reasoning behind, it tends to be “Girls must cover their bodies so that boys aren’t distracted by them”) and how both of these things contribute to the victim-blaming, self-hate-mongering, abusive-relationship-elevating culture I pointed out above.

Right now, I want to make the point of how no matter how angry I am with this guy, with the school board that thinks it’s acceptable to pay him to deal with children, with the other six people sitting at that table with us, smiling and nodding, and with society at large for making all of the above happen, which is very, very angry, I’m angrier with myself.

I’m angrier with myself because I didn’t say a word. I didn’t ask how he could possibly think this was acceptable. I didn’t ask what he thought of the demonstrators at SlutWalk. I didn’t ask him if he thought I was dressed like a hooker too. I didn’t ask what made him think he had any right to tell any woman (regardless of her age or attire) that she was dressed like a tramp. I didn’t ask him to explain what he thought was wrong with prostitution, or being a prostitute. And I didn’t tell him he was wrong. I didn’t tell him that I found the things he was saying, the views he was expressing, extremely offensive, distasteful, disgusting, disrespectful, both on a personal level and a greater social one. I didn’t tell him that I saw his words as a direct attack on femininity, feminism, and every woman he had ever encountered, including myself.

I said nothing to him. I stood up and walked away. I didn’t give a reason, I just said good night. I didn’t say “I’m leaving because I find this discussion abhorrent”.

There are dozens of reasons why I didn’t say anything. There’s still a voice in my head saying that I have to listen to people in my parents’ demographic, and that if I disagree with them, that means my views must not be valid. I was afraid to put myself at odds with this man, not only because of him, but because of all the people around us who seemed to agree, or at the very least, not disagree. I didn’t want to start a fight with seven people.

But I didn’t say anything, so he had no idea, no reason to believe that anyone at that table disagreed with him. It could well be that some of those six people who didn’t say anything were keeping quiet for the same reason I was. Maybe as soon as the door closed behind them as they left, they burst into fits of swearing and crying, the same way I did.

Unfortunately, shouting and crying to my mother when I leave isn’t enough. As long as he didn’t hear me shouting and crying, or politely pointing out how disrespectful he was being, he has no reason to think he might not be right.

And as long as that continues to happen, as long as I, and others like me, continue to be bullied into silence, he will never question his opinions, his words, or his actions. He will indoctrinate others, the children he’s teaching, to think that what he thinks is okay, is right, even.

That’s a future I have a really tough time feeling hopeful about, and it’s one I’ve just created.

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