My friend Joel forwarded me this post from a blog called Finslippy–very Formerly post, and well-written to boot. I’d love your take on it…it seems the author, Alice Bradley, tried and understandably failed to find the levity in her topic. I could never make this issue funny either, and in my mission to help women laugh about the indignities of this adult tween phase of life, I glossed over it.
But I appreciate her writing it. As I’ve posted about, I, too, have braced for the catcalls I, like most young women, used to endure, and instead heard sound of cartoon crickets chirping. Over time, and now that I am 44, that has become a relief, and I have certainly never missed feeling at the mercy of sweaty catcalling guys drinking 40s on milk crates in front of the corner bodega. When I was a teenager, I felt assaulted by the attention, that my body was not my own, that every stare or grope or subway masturbator took a piece of it with him, so there hardly anything left of me. I’m pretty sure the crappy body image and eating disorder I dealt with back then was a direct result of feeling like there were no boundaries to protect me. This is a young woman thing for sure–it has nothing to do with how “hot” you were.
(For those of you not from New York or Tokyo, there were guys who would surreptitiously masturbate at young women on the subway, at least when I was young. Like Bradley, I have not encountered them recently, which may be because I am no longer perv-worthy. It might also be that would-be creeps take one look at me with my mom-chic clog boots and time-furrowed brow and know I’d raise hell–something I didn’t do either as a young woman.)
My take: I agree with Bradley that not having to feel so exposed is a blessing of Formerlydom, and knowing you don’t have to suffer in silence if someone violates your boundaries is another. I’m not sure I agree that grey hair makes a woman look intimidating, though, or that it confers a Harry Potter-like cloak of invisibility that some would find welcome. I don’t endeavor to look intimidating so much as to keep my voice at the ready. That’s something I wish I had at my disposal back in the day.