Does my presence threaten you?
Is my free choice to stand at this counter next you, threatening to you? Or what is the purpose of you spreading your legs so you’re able to stand with your feet farther apart, more splayed out?
Are you intimidated by me taking up space?
I know we are all waiting in line for our food to be prepared; that’s what brought me to this fast food counter in the first place. I am working. Picking up a customer’s meal to be delivered. Why do you think your space is worth more than mine? Or the oxygen that you are taking up is more deserving to be in your lungs than mine?
When I say a simple statement, apparently the subtext was what did you in. Boy oh boy, did you feel threatened. I said there is actually a long line behind me of people waiting for their food also. I thought your entitled body walked up in front of them all. It seemed that my voice was what made you snap.
Like a dry twig who knew it was about to be burned and added to the raging bonfire inside of you.
You yelled at me. In this public place, in front of everyone.
The subtext of my words had the purpose of calling you out. Your spread-leg stance and the obtrusive force with which you stood right next to me was felt by my unconscious soul. The part of me who used to be at the forefront of my life; telling me that all the people around me were dangerous. I felt a tight grasp on my heart in this moment.
This part of me is fragile, so when you turned your massive bald white head ninety degrees to the left to look at me square on, my body seized up. Out eyes locked and I knew I was looking into a man full of evil.
The energy of an unhinged person is hard to miss, especially when violently spewed words are simultaneously presented.
“I’ve been waiting in this same line, I walked in here right after YOU”
The problem with a person enveloped in toxic and masculine entitlement is that just like a dried-out twig waiting for its turn to be tossed into the fire, he has been living a life where nothing has been questioned, so why would he need to question his actions this time around?
His seething rage was directed at me, making the hair on the back of my neck stand to attention. Your words echoed through my body as I looked down to the ground and mumbled “okay”. With the volume of an overly disciplined child.
You forcibly took the oxygen out of my lungs and sucked it into yours with pure rage. An impulse that I’ve never been the victim of; until today. I hope to never inadvertently “threaten” a sixty-year-old white male in a fast food restaurant again, because some people are clearly more fragile than you would ever know; until they show you.
The problem with this situation is the question that came from it. How am I allowed to take up space in places where I need to go?
Too feminine and I will get unwanted, objectifying, prying eyes. Piercing through my skin and burning holes in my naked body; making me feel like a piece of meat as I walk through the soup aisle of the grocery store looking for some dinner.
Too masculine and I seem to threaten men. Does my self-confidence amplify your insecurity? Which seems to need all the oxygen in the room, just to puff up your under-inflated sense of self.
I should be able to hold and exude my confidence in any space I inhabit, but when those fragile beings around me feel the need to puff out their frail chests against mine, spread their legs to widen their shaky stance, and verbally assault me… that’s when my confidence inevitably cowers in their shadow.
The problem is, how are women supposed to be then?
If my presence threatens you, is that on me?
No. It is not my responsibility to rub the back of your pre-pubescent ego. Comfort it and remind it that it is important.
I am going to continue through my own life feeling as beautiful and as self-assured as I want to because I am proud to be me.
Unfortunately, I cannot say the same about you- you old nasty man. Go on and live alone in your misery, your sense of entitlement under “attack”, just know that I will never retreat into the shell that you want to me to crawl into so your fragility can be protected. Your insecurities are hidden in place as your ill-directed and empty dominance is thrown at me. But I will not shrink. Not today nor in the rest of my days. Learn how to share oxygen in public places, so you don’t snap like the fragile twig you are.
“There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people feel less insecure around you”