I keep replaying the scene in my mind, trying to comprehend why and how a man I don't even know, can be so disrespectful toward me. I'm still at a loss to explain it.
Here's what happened: I finally decided to take some time to just be with my mom. I wrote in a previous journal post that I wished I took more time to be with my mom so I drove down to Montreal this weekend. My mom takes care of my ailing 85-year-old grandma day in and day out. No brakes. No time to be selfish. Washing, cleaning, feeding as you would a new born my grandma, who has become completely depend on my mom.
Last night, after changing my grandma into her night gown and tucking her safely in bed, my mom and I decided to go to the movies. We were going to catch Ben Affleck's latest flick. We got to the movie theatre a little late. We stood in line for our tickets, in a line that didn't seem to move. The movie was suppose to start at 9:30. It's 9:35 and we were still in line. As we neared the counter, I asked my mom if she wanted to get popcorn while I got the tickets, in order to save time and try to get in before the movie starts. She hesitated to crouch and slip under the black elastic band wedged in the poles at each end of the line, keeping people in a neat, straight line. I decided to lift up the line holder for her. But, I lifted it too high, causing the black elastic band to snap at one end. I gestured for her to carry on, as I was putting back the elastic band in its place.
As I turned back around to resume my rightful place in the line, the young couple standing behind us in the line had moved up. So, I spoke up, saying: "Excuse me, I'm still in the line." They didn't budge. So, I nudged them again. The guy barely made enough room for me to get by while saying:" Ouais, allez, passe espece de folle" ( which translates from the French to: "Yeah, go ahead you crazy bitch) as I resumed my spot.
Disturbed by his comment, I turned around to the guy saying: "What's your problem? You're not allowed to speak to me that way." To which he responded: "Ferme ta gueule la folle" (Shut your mouth you crazy ) I was so beside myself with how rude and disrespectful he was that I only managed to blurt out: "What the hell?" as a looked at both the disrespectful guy and his girlfriend. In those few seconds, I was hoping to see empathy in the girl's eyes but instead she just stood there, clasping on to the guy's arm and looking down as he stared at me with a smug look.
“Can I help who's next?” My time at the ticket counter had come up, and as I turned my back to the couple I muttered, “so disrespectful” and walked toward the friendly face at the ticket counter, hearing the guy riposte back “T'as vraiment de l'attitude” (You really have attitude).
“Deux for The Town,” I blurted out to the ticket lady, trying really hard to ignore and forget the rude episode. But, I was so frazzled that it took me three debit card swipes to get my payment through.
I got my tickets and walked toward my mom who was paying for the popcorn. “Which theatre number are we in,” my mom asked me as she saw me arrive. “Eight”, I said still frazzled. And, the minute I locked eyes with my mother, tears started welling up. “What wrong?”, asked my concerned mom. I explained. My mom immediately hugged me and told me in arabic, “Ya binty, bit aayaty ashan wahid saye da. Ma yistahilsh!” (My daughter, you're crying because of someone like that. He doesn't deserve your tears.)
We entered theatre 8. The movie had already started. I felt stupid for tearing up. We sat and my mom hugged me again. I couldn't concentrate on the movie. I soon realized this Affleck flick was just another violent robber/cop movie. I didn't want to watch it anymore. It reeked of machismo. All I could see was how the two female characters in the film were victims of a selfish, inconsiderate man.
I had never been happier to see a movie end. As we drove back home, I turned on the radio only to hear singer John Mayer belt out: “It's not that we don't care. We just know the fight ain't fair so we keep on waiting, waiting on the world to change”
I think I was mostly affected by this episode because beyond the insults being completely gratuitous, I realized that, as women, we get a lot of flack for simply being female and speaking up. If I were a man in that situation, I don't think that rude guy would have reacted the way he did.
There was something particularly disturbing about him telling me I should shut my pie hole and that I had attitude because I spoke up and spoke back at his rude comment.
I wonder if only that inconsiderate man had stopped to think: “What if this was my mother, sister, girlfriend, daughter in that situation?” I wonder if that would have changed his attitude?
It was only verbal insults that he gratuitously spat at me but it seemed to affect me more than a physical harassment. Yet, I've been in even more completely unacceptable situations when I lived in Cairo. For example, I was the victim of a “drive-by ass grab” from a man who drove by on this motorcycle next to me, grabbed my behind and drove away while I stood there unable to react and feeling violated. I've been told by a man that he only needed “one night” with me while walking on the streets of Cairo. But, back then, I was told not to respond, bite my tongue and walk away because the insulting man might react violently.
Why is it that if you refuse to tolerate injustice and speak out against it, you're defined as “crazy” or a “bitch”. Women are nurturing and beautiful and need to be treated and treat others with respect, always. Not all men are like that, I realize, but I wish more men in our society would stand up to the ones that are disrespectful. The fight might be unfair and we might be waiting on the world to change but I refuse to wait and let it be unfair.
If a man or woman is disrespectful toward you, speak up! You might get called names or worst, but I feel that being silent is even worst.