sensitivity, and the Dead PrezPosted: 06/19/2012
More than a few weeks ago, when B and I were still in SF, we went out one friday night. Surprise surprise. This time it was a send off for his friends Ryan and Rani, who were moving back to Texas. We ended up at a bar over on Broadway and Powell called the Hancock Room, an offshoot of SIP. With all the prohibition era trendiness going on lately, like Burbon and Branch and the Rickhouse (both of which I like) in SF, the Hancock Room tries to one-up them by featuring artwork of the founding fathers in all their awesomeness. Art work like this and this and my favorite being Ben Franklin facing off with Zeus made us all atwitter over the decor that also included presidential busts and a vintage 13 colonies flag.
I love this type of cheeky yet historical and modern, all at the same time art. Jason Heuser is the name of the artist (from SF!!!), and you can find him here. I’m pretty blown away by his series on the dead presidents. I’m seriously contemplating buying a set of the prints to hang….somewhere.
On the way to chinatown, Beau snapped a few shots of me and my beet red soft and cushy cords. I felt the need to throw in a ka-ra-te pose. It was necessary.
Now here comes the sensitivity part. I am now more inclined to call it the sensitivity part as opposed to the &*#%ing-sexist-@$$wipe part, now that it’s been a good month since the event. I was having a grand ole time at the Hancock Room, when the bartender (owner, actually, I think), made an incredibly off-putting sexist joke. It started with another patron at the bar mentioning to the bartender how the place had an old gentleman’s club like feel and how they should incorporate cigars and such to make it feel even more manly. In retrospect, I should have kept my mouth shut. But I added in that they’d then need to add some feminine touches to balance it out, something for the girls. Again, I should have just not said anything. (I’m no design czar and I have no idea about bar decor. With casual banter and chit chat though, I put in my comment). The response from the bartender totally caught me off guard. He said, “There is a place for women. Right here beneath the bar.” It took me a while to register what he had just said and in the meantime, my knee-jerk reaction was to give a weak laugh.
I proceeded to get even more and more pissed off and upset as the night went on. When B and I left, we ended up in a fairly dramatic disagreement. He didn’t think it was a big deal and that I shouldn’t care what other people say. I was all worked up because I had just finished teaching a unit on sexual harassment and rape culture in my health class, and I tend to bring my work home with me. Initially, I was mad at B for not saying anything. It is known that bystander intervention is most effective when the bystander is of the same race/gender as the offender. So thus, as a man, I felt that B had an obligation to be the bystander on my behalf.
Not actually realistic, as it turns out. First of all, B can’t read my mind and was oblivious to how strongly I reacted to the sexually objective comment made by the bartender. Secondly, B may very well not have been trained/exposed/learned about the importance of bystander intervention. (note from B: “I wasn’t, at all. I was never explicitly taught anything about sexism or standing up for wormen or anything else like that. I’ve picked up a lot since I was a kid, but had never heard anything about bystander intervention specifically until you mentioned it.”) So ultimately, I was really upset that I didn’t say anything. That I have been trained to brush off these types of sexist jokes with weak laughs. I was more pissed at myself for my inaction than at B for his, and even at the bartender for his perpetuation of gender roles and the sexual objectification of women.
So now I’m chalking it up to my sensitivity issue. If I am sensitive to something said, then it’s ultimately MY responsibility to react to it. I should have said something. I just wish I had someone always there to feed me lines, since I always seem to think of the best comeback well after the moment had past. In the end, I was more sensitive than productive.