I’ve been thinking about this post for a few months now, trying to figure out how to word it to convey my feelings in a truthful way. Without exaggeration or too much rage. Without clenching my teeth and my fists in between sentences. With a little panache, a dash of humor, and a sprinkling of personal reflection. Here is attempt number one; keep in mind that I could write a 500 page book on this topic. (but then I would get distracted or bored or overwhelmed or tired or would need a snack or might want to play words with friends on facebook or ANYTHING ELSE ON THE PLANET because I am not a writer and really just want people to find me interesting and love using run-on sentences and poor punctuation because I think it’s funny)
I’d like to briefly write about my body and personal space in public settings. Part of the basis of my absolute abhorrence of the metro during busy times is that I have personal space issues. I know I do, and I know that I have to deal with this on my own and that total strangers are not responsible for educating themselves on this matter. I am actually very, very comfortable with folks gettin’ all up in my grill ONCE I KNOW THEM.
Because I am a woman (here’s the sweeping generalization), I am hyper-aware of my personal space and my body in it. As a woman, I am constantly consciously or unconsciously monitoring who steps into that space. Is this a potential rapist? Will this person harm me? Then, add to that my own personal space issues. (To provide a small illustration of what I mean: being tickled makes me feel abject terror and panic. To the point of physically harming whoever is doing the tickling.) Every time someone squeezes in too close to me, I expend a lot of mental energy evaluating the situation.
I hate the fact that everything that I do in public is subject to others’ assumptions, that they feel that they have a right to my personal space and that my body is there for their visual and physical pleasure. I am a thing. I am my body. I am not Sally, this thinking, creative, strong, and talented person. It kicks me in the gut every time I get on the metro, or in a line, or into one of the cluster-fucks to get onto the escalator stairs at the metro. It’s even demonstrated in something as simple as sitting down on the metro, having a man walk in, sit next to me, spread his legs really wide, and just expect me to deal. (I’m jus’ sayin’ that I KNOW that your junk is not that big.) I have a daily reminder of where I exist in society here in Russia, and as a liberal feminist who grew up in the States, it makes it hard. It’s also just fucking hard when I don’t like strangers standing with their shoulder wedged into my boob, or their bag practically up my crack. My personal space is not my personal space here in Russia, and for someone who needs a bit of space in order to feel safe-ish, this is a real challenge.
Some notes to remind me of what to write about in relation to this post:
*Being “allowed” to come to Russia.
*A feminist classroom/learning environment.
*Patriarchy and women teachers-authority.
Whew! Are you tired? I’m a little tired. This is not at all how I wanted this post to turn out, but I’m not one to go back and re-do. Another reason I’ll never be a writer. I think I’ll go run FOR A FEW HOURS. Or not. I’ll probably just have another cookie.