I was sitting at lunch today with the kid, who’s not quite 17, has gorgeous hair down to her butt and is still as concerned about people being kind to one another as she was back in preschool.
At the table behind us were three college guys. One of said college guys was bragging about how he loves to cat-call girls and laughing about the fact that they get so mad about it. He even went so far as to say women like being cat-called and that their complaints are phony. One of his friends tried to argue with him, but Cat-caller was having none of it.
“It’s a compliment to yell ‘nice tits!’ to a chick,” he added.
Clare had stopped eating so she could focus more on eavesdropping (weird how that works – the inability to both eat and eavesdrop at the same time).
“Mom, that’s bullshit,” she whispered to me.
“Yep,” I replied. “Dude’s a bit of a douche.”
“What he’s saying contributes to the rape culture.”
“I want to say something to him.”
“Go for it.”
The guys all rose to bus their table. When Cat-caller walked past us, Clare sat up straighter and said, “Excuse me.”
Cat-caller turned around, looking a tad surprised.
“What you were saying just then—about cat-calling women. I have to tell you that I disagree with you. In fact, I get kind of scared when men yell stuff at me about my body.”
Clare had begun to tear up so I jumped in to add my two cents.
“It’d be like me yelling, ‘Nice balls!’ at you,” I said, staring at his crotch for added impact.
Okay, admittedly not as diplomatic as Clare’s approach. Need I remind you that I am originally from New Jersey, while Clare grew up in Boulder? Thus, our communication styles on sensitive issues can be quite different.
Cat-caller blushed. Looked really embarrassed, uncomfortable even.
“When you cat-call women it contributes to the rape culture in this country,” Clare added, finding her voice again.
Cat-caller was, mercifully, rendered speechless. And then he did something quite unexpected. He apologized.
“I appreciate that,” Clare said.
Cat-caller and Friend #1 walked out. Friend #2, the guy who had argued with Cat-caller about his warped views on verbal harassment, stayed behind. Slowly, almost deferentially, he approached Clare, his gaze lowered a bit, hands tucked in the front pockets of his jeans.
“Can I ask you a question?” he said to my daughter.
“Sure,” she replied.
“So if I said to you, ‘you have really nice hair,’ would that be okay?” There was nothing sarcastic or caustic in his tone. Just a genuinely honest question.
“Yes it would,” Clare said, “because that’s a nice compliment.”
“Ok, thanks,” Friend #2 said. “Because I think you have really nice hair.” And then he slipped away to catch up with his pals. I watched them all pile into an SUV and drive away.
“Well done,” I said to Clare, giving her a fist-bump. “You handled that beautifully. Didn't even lose your cool.”
“Well, when you’re trying to change someone’s perspective, yelling or being rude doesn’t really seem to work.”
“Good observation,” I said, feeling a bit guilty about that Twitter account I recently opened for the sole purpose of letting a certain someone in the White House know how I feel about him at least five times a day. Sometimes, closer to ten.
“What do you want to bet those three guys are talking about us right now?” Clare said, smiling.
“Pretty sure they are, honey. You gave them something to think about. And that’s a good thing.”
|This girl. She makes her mama proud.|
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