We took the kid to an Ottawa Senators game Tuesday (home opener win over the Wild in a shootout, on the off chance you read this blog for your sports fix. Neil had a huge game, by the way).
At one point during the game, Amy noted that the Sens had introduced cheerleaders of sorts – attractive young women in yoga pants and tight t-shirts doing reasonably-coordinated routines in the crowd. Then awhile later they made their way to our section.
Among the things I heard shouted:
- “Take your top off!”
- “Take your shirt off!”
- “I see that tramp stamp! I know what that means.”
It was late and the kid was pretty drowsy and not really hearing any of it so we largely tried to tune it out. But when the guys in front of us started discussing which one was likely the biggest slut I finally reminded them, as calmly as I could muster given the circumstances, there was a child in the area and they should show a little respect.
At one point in all of this, Amy turned to me and said something to the effect of “thank you for not being an asshole.” And it got me thinking – I can’t even fathom talking to a woman like that (or to anyone for that matter). It’s not that I am cognizant of trying to set a good example for my daughter or trying to avoid upsetting my wife – I genuinely don’t understand how people can talk to people like that.
Then I started thinking about the strong women that I grew up with. I wasn’t raised in a girl power household or anything – feminism wasn’t something that was discussed specifically – but the women in my life were (and are) strong, independent, proud people.
My great grandmother was a school teacher who well into her 90s instilled a love of reading and a deep sense of respect in the three generations that came after her. My maternal grandmother raised 8 kids and can still strike the fear of god in them (not to mention her grandkids) today, though she’s far more inclined to be warm and loving. I didn’t know my paternal grandmother as well but she raised three boys after my grandfather passed away too early and the memories I do have are of a caring, strong woman.
And my Mom, well my Mom is the sweetest most caring woman I know but she doesn’t take shit from anyone. She’s the eldest of the 8 and she can still whip her siblings into shape when she has to. I still feel protected in her presence today and I’m a grown man with almost a foot on her height-wise.
It’s no wonder, I suppose that I married Amy. She’s as strong as any of them.
I wouldn’t want my daughter raised by anyone else.
One of the things that bothered me the most was watching the man sitting in front of us with his young son do nothing. He didn’t say anything to the men around us about watching what they were saying, he didn’t say anything to his son about it being inappropriate and disrespectful.
A few years ago Joe and I would go to Renegades games, and the team had decided to have the stupidest promotion EVER. Men were given beads upon arriving at the games, and women were to collect the beads by whatever means they chose. These, of course, being Mardigras beads that women usually collect by flashing their breasts at strangers. I sat in the South side stands and watched women flash men, make out with total strangers and do other things that made me sad, angry and uncomfortable. I can’t ever remember what the prize was for having the most beads at the end of the game – maybe $1000?
I watched these women do these things and I saw fathers with their young sons beside them stand up to get a better look. So we have women who were taught that their body should be used and boys being taught that it’s fine to treat women as objects.
And you know what, the men I went to games with? They weren’t standing to gawk, they were yelling at those who were that there was still a football game going on and they were blocking the play.
I too was raised by strong women, my mother and my grandmother, I have known strong women all my life, I am a strong woman and my daughter will be one too.
I’d like to think that she will never encounter the guy who tries to look cool by shouting ‘take off your shirt’ at a pretty girl he doesn’t know, but she will. I just hope she has a great comeback when he shows up. But then, the fact is, that tonight I didn’t have a comeback. I didn’t know what to do or what to say. As a woman I am always aware that by speaking up in a situation like that I may be putting myself in danger. It’s something that Joe might never be able to really understand. If I call the guy an asshole and he is the wrong kind of guy, I could be very suddenly in a serious situation. How do you pick and choose those moments when the offense taken out-weighs the potential bad reaction?