Sailing the Seas of Cheese: Don’t Want Your Forced Apologies
*Warning: I use some offensive phrases to illustrate a point. I do not endorse the use of them in any way. Since they are phrases that make grown adults cringe, I would like to let you know they are there in advance.
When I was in first grade I already knew I wanted to be a doctor “when I grew up.” Needless to say I thrilled to death when my class took a field trip to one of the local hospitals. At the end the day, all of the kids were given toy medical kits. They were almost identical. Each had a toy thermometer, some bandages, and a cardboard stethoscope. But the boys received a cardboard head mirror that has been synonymous with physicians for ages. Meanwhile the girls were handed cardboard nursing caps. When I questioned it, an older nurse dismissively told me that, silly girl, boys grow up to be doctors.
Fast forward sixteen years later, and I was sitting in a histology (the study of cells–yes about as exciting as it sounds) in my first year of medical school. During the lab component of the class, we clustered around group microscopes where six students could simultaneously view the same slide. By chance, I had been assigned to a team where I was the only woman. No big deal. I’d worked in a lab where I was the only female lab tech. But it didn’t take long before one of my histology partners started uttering a word to me over and over again.
Spanish for cunt, coyly uttered as though I didn’t understand the word. Over and over again throughout the twelve week course. I’ve never taken a Spanish class in my life, but I knew exactly what that word meant.
You don’t belong here.
The Puerto Rican guy at our microscope would occasionally giggle like a little kid who heard someone say the word “fart.” The other three young men either didn’t get it (I suspect the guy from Ghana didn’t understand that it was even a slur) or simply buried their collective heads in the sand since it wasn’t their problem. I never gave that pig the satisfaction of cowering or getting angry. I simply ignored him. Unfortunately I was also raised with the belief that “tattling” was a sign of weakness, that sticks and stones may break your bones but words could never hurt me. So I simply put up with harassment.
That is until I realized I didn’t have to put up with it. I had two choices. I could go to the Dean and file a formal complaint. Yeah, he would get his butt nailed to the wall, but it wasn’t something to get expelled over, so I would be stuck dealing with this jerk for the next three in a half years. So I did it my way. I decided this pig had no power over me. I told his toady friend that if he called me a coño again I would let the Dean know and you all could connect the dots from there. It took all of three days for the guy to call me at home, hat in hand. It was a misunderstanding. I didn’t hear him correctly. He was only joking… There were enough half-assed phrases you could play Excuse Bingo. Never received an apology, but never expected one. But you know what? He never came within about fifty feet of me for the rest of medical school. Suddenly I was the one who had the upper hand.
Funny how when you call someone on their BS, he quickly back tracks to the “I was just joking” excuse. Heck, my six-year-old has already learned that lame excuse to get off the hook after getting busted for doing something horrible to her sister. Since it doesn’t work with me when a kindergarten graduate pulls it out of her bag of tricks, why would a grown adult expect it to work this past week?
What if the referee slated to officiate the game this week wasn’t going to be Shannon Eastin as was just another guy. Would that writer be able to get off the hook with the “I was just making fun of the situation” if he has posted This Nigger Will Officiate Packers Game or something equally lovely such as This Faggot Will Officiate Packers Game?
We have come far as a society where these types of perjoratives are not tolerated in mainstream circles. So why is it still acceptable to degrade a woman professional? Just as I had earned a place in my medical school class, Shannon Eastin earned a place in the referee corps (albeit the replacement corps) not because of a double-top secret quota that needed to be attained, not out of pity and certainly not to stick it to the establishment. Positions were earned on a history of proven performance.
Unfortunately there are some that are threatened by such accomplishments and feel the need to reduce us to whores, bitches, cunts and broads. Because when you’re stripped down to just your genitalia, it’s easier to degrade a caricature and forget there is a human being on the other end of such insults. And it is certainly easier to belittle those of us who question such shenanigans with comments such as, You’ll never get a man with that mouth/attitude, radical feminists. And then there was the eloquent poster that just cut to the chase and called us oversensitive cunts.
Seriously, what is with the fascination with my vagina? (Or should I say, my complete lack of a penis.) Enough already.
There was a time when Lawn Jockey statues were perfectly acceptable, quaint if not cute. My grandparents had one in their yard, and they lived nowhere near the deep south. Good luck not being labeled as insensitive racist if you decide to put one in your yard in this day and age. Hopefully we’ll grow enough some day when blatant declarations of sexism won’t get a pass either.
I was only joking can only get you so much mileage. It doesn’t do jack to hide the undercurrent of the issued joke: you don’t belong here.
It doesn’t make me oversensitive or a radical feminist when I don’t like that type of joking. Wait, let’s just call it what it is–intolerance. Because I sure as hell am not laughing.
I put up with enough sexist intolerance in my life. It doesn’t mean I am willing to turn a blind eye like my lab mates in histology. It doesn’t mean that I need to put up with it like the younger me did for some time. And I certainly don’t have to accept a half-assed apology that was issued only because someone called the This Broad author on his crap.
I have learned–and I’m pretty certain Shannon Eastin has as well–that when you cast light on someone lobbing insults of intolerance, they hold no power over you.
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but I don’t have to sit silent and put up with your discriminatory bull crap.