‘laugh it off’ or expect respect

Thing 1 posted this yesterday on social media.
She was feeling sad.

Rude old man in Lowe’s said I looked like I swallowed a watermelon seed then proceeded to laugh his butt off like it was the funniest thing ever said and block my way so I couldn’t get past him. 😭

Of course this got a lot of angry or frustrated responses: middle finger emojis (this may or may not have been mine), angry faces, one hilarious gif of Madea giving the side eye.

My Momma-hackles were up. I was flooded with the overwhelming desire to stab that “rude old man” with my icepick! Leave my kid alone, fuckface. (I know, it sounds like a word I learned in 6th grade, because I did …but just work with me on this.)

This morning I woke to a comment to which I reacted with all the feels.

Well, try to laugh it off. It’s such a limited time in your life and that watermelon is a blessing!

The person who wrote this comment loves my first daughter nearly as much as I do. They share a sacred place in each other’s hearts and lives. I know she was trying to put a positive spin on an incident that upset Thing 1. She was doing what she thought was right. And I love her dearly for it. Helping my baby see that she might be able to just shrug it off and live in a place that is filled to the brim with the blessing of Baby K. And she’s right! That man knows nothing about how or why or what Thing 1 does to live her life. And who cares what he thinks? Thing 1 just needs to keep livin’ man. L-I-V-I-N.

Only, the more I considered her kindness, I considered how women around the world have been conditioned to behave, to accept the behavior of others…
And then my hackles went absolutely haywire.
I responded to the comment in what I hope is a kind and respectful way.

I understand your heart is in the right place in this comment, I know you speak from a place of love. You’re right, this baby is a blessing.
However, my concern is, taking this stance simply perpetuates disrespect towards women everywhere. That man doesn’t know just how much of a blessing this baby is. He amused himself at the expense of a young pregnant woman. At. Her. Expense.
We should never laugh this off.

I’m actually having both sides of this conversation in my head as write this post.
Was that man attempting to be friendly and not super successful, or was he a misogynistic asshole?
I have actually used that swallowed a watermelon line in my life. But never to a stranger.
Part of me agrees that Thing 1 should just “ignore the mean boy” and go on about her life.
But as I argue both sides of this issue I realize how wrong the whole fucking thing actually is!
There is nothing OK about one entire side of this conversation!
I would NEVER let my daughters behave that way, speak that way to or about someone! Would it be different if I had sons? Would I be a bit more, “boys will be boys”?
Um. FUCK to the NO!!

I’ve moved so far beyond the compulsion to protect my child.
I’m talking basic human respect.
This is our world, y’all!
How can this be OK?

Look, I’m not some mad feminist over here beating my bare breasts while burning my bra. I’m just a regular sort of (fully clothed) woman writing about what I see and feel.
My pregnant daughter should never have to be expected to “laugh it off”! She should never be exposed to that kind of random disrespect and borderline abuse!
Nobody’s daughter should!
Nobody’s son, for that matter!

Y’all! I am fired up about this! Am I overreacting? Am I justified?
I want to know what you think.
Ladies and Gents, do we simply ‘laugh it off’, or do we do everything in our power to treat other people with basic human decency?
I want to hear what you have to say on either side of this conversation.
Please and thank you!

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Categories: me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “‘laugh it off’ or expect respect

  1. There’s no possible excuse for the behaviour of that rude man in Lowe’s. Unless her had Altzhiemers.
    But, it’s best not to get angry and let an idiot blight a small part of your life.
    Maybe you should have gone with ‘Fuck Off Pratt!’ 💝

  2. Oh I was I had a good answer for you. There are times I want to fight, to tell people off, and sometimes I do. And sometimes, I don’t want to waste my energy in that way. Oddly, because I’ve encountered so much rude behavior of late I think I’m going to write about it soon. Stay strong!!

  3. People say stupid, rude things. Was he appropriate? Absolutely not. Do we care what a jackass in Lowe’s says? Not really. I agree that this BS has to stop. A snappy comeback in the moment would be awesome, but alas that time has passed. Time to put it aside and focus on the positive. Unless you bump into him again, then whip out the ice pick and/or snappy comeback….

    • I agree completely!
      She and I had a long phone conversation about this incident. She shared that normally she would be able to come up with some sort of witty retort and moved on, but that day she was feeling particularly emotional thanks to being chock full of pregnancy hormones. She remarked that even though she was feeling especially sensitive, if she hadn’t been physically trapped by the long pieces of lumber in his cart she would have just kept going. Turns out it was the perfect storm for the incident to occur and impact her.
      She and I talked about intent. I asked specifically if she thought he was attempting and failing to make a social connection, or was he intentionally being disrespectful. She said she was sure he was attempting a social connection but failed miserably. Even the check out person kind of gave him a WTF? look.
      She understood the idea of ‘laughing it off’ because in the scheme of her life his opinion didn’t matter. Where she got caught up was regardless of his intent, the interaction left her feeling anxious, a little frightened, and a lot disrespected. She knew she was perfectly safe, but she was flooded with irrational fear.
      She decided his intent was most likely innocent, however she was left feeling the way she felt after the encounter.
      We talked about feelings like we did when she was a little girl: all feelings are valid because you feel them but feelings don’t create your reality
      Logically, she knew she was safe. She was not alone and the man intended no real malice.
      But because of being temporarily trapped physically and chock full of pregnancy hormones she didn’t feel safe in that moment.
      The point of my initial rant was that ‘laughing off’ an incident does not excuse it. And by ‘laughing it off’ we perpetuate the availability for incidents to continue to occur.
      For the most part, as girls, we’re taught to ‘laugh off’ all manner of disrespect. We’re taught that we’re the reason for distraction. We’re taught that our feelings don’t matter. And that is why I got on my soap box. It is the wrongest wrong to ever come out of Wrongville!
      We must stop making allowances. Stop blaming the victims. Humans must take responsibility for their actions.
      I believe this particular man was harmless, but that didn’t stop me from defending my child when she felt vulnerable and frightened.

      Wow! This response became more than I initially anticipated, and I appreciate your tenacity and patience as you make your way through it.
      (I take full responsibility for writing these words. :-))

      • It’s a wonderful thing that the two of you could discuss and dissect this. I think that’s the silver lining here.

      • Yes ma’am, I was able to help her feel heard, and have her feelings respected. Mommas are good for that.
        That this incident unexpectedly created an opportunity to have a beautiful conversation about gender equality was indeed a silver lining.

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