To the Woman at Starbucks who told me I'm "Perpetuating Rape Culture"
Have you ever been verbally accosted at a Starbucks before? Me either...until 5 days ago...
I actually wanted to write about it sooner, but I had to fully process and accept it before telling the internet about it. I also had to think really long and hard about what I wanted to say about it. I normally try to walk that super fine line of trying not to offend every single person on this planet (which is obviously impossible, yet here I am), and I'm sure a few people reading this will not share my views and opinions in regards to what happened to me, but I have to talk about it because it's not okay.
I stopped into a Starbucks near my office to pick up a coffee for one of my coworkers. I frequent this particular Starbucks A LOT. I have quite the caffeine addiction. My heart rate is rising just thinking about that caffeinated goodness. 🤷♀️
I pulled into the parking lot and made my way inside. This Starbucks also happens to be SUPER busy all the time. I wasn't the least bit surprised that there was a long line. I took my place at the back of the line and hopped on my phone. As I was scrolling through emails, I felt a few taps on my shoulder.
I turned around and became face to face with another woman. She was late 20's, early 30's if I had to guess, and dressed in a ton of layers, including a long winter coat that went down to her ankles. Not that her wardrobe matters, but I really want you to have a good visual of how this all played out.
I turned to her and smiled, thinking that maybe she wanted to tell me I had dropped something or compliment my new purse that I had bought myself for my birthday. Before I could even finish flashing my smile the woman shot me a pained look.
"Hi there... I don't know how familiar you are with rape culture and the 'me too' movement, but it's a very serious issue right now. I really urge you to reassess what you wear, you're really drawing attention that could be harmful to you. I would suggest wearing shirts that cover your bottom. I just wanted to let you know that I'm looking out for you."
I stared blankly at her and said, "I'm sorry, what?". I couldn't even process what this woman was saying to me. As she repeated herself again I tried to formulate some sort of response. I couldn't. I said, "oh, okay. Thank you for the information." 🤦
I turned around and continued to wait in line. My face was hot and I started sweating. I could feel all of the eyes of the people who overheard the exchange. I was mortified. And what was worse? I could then see in my peripheral vision that the woman continued to stand behind me, but in a way as to block my backside from the view of others.
I could have sunken right into the floor in that moment. I felt violated. I felt like I did something wrong.
I quickly ordered a coffee and bolted back to my car. My face was on fire. I have never been so uncomfortable in my entire life.
I drove back to work fighting myself in my head. Was I right to be offended? Or was she right that I was doing something wrong with the way I dressed? Am I the villain in this story, perpetuating the idea of dressing for the pleasure of men?
For the record, this was the EXACT outfit I was wearing: A fleece jacket, black athletic plants, and a v-neck short sleeve shirt. For context, I work in a physical therapy office, so our dress code is athletic apparel.
This photo is without the jacket:
By the time I pulled back into the office parking lot I was pissed. To be honest, I was pissed mostly at myself. Why in the hell did I not rip this woman a new asshole? Why did I not respond with, "Actually ma'am, YOU are perpetuating this issue by telling me that I can't wear what I am comfortable in because a man might feel the need to rape me."
I am a woman. I have an ass. I have boobs (although they are a hell of a lot saggier after childbearing). I can't hide who I am or what I really look like because someone who sees me might not be able to control themselves. THIS is the issue. THIS is the problem. THIS needs discussion. Don't get me wrong, I so very much appreciate that this woman thought she was helping me. I honestly believe her intentions were good. But is what she thought she was protecting me from really the issue? I'm not so sure...
How do we correct this culture of creating the idea that if something bad happens to someone that they must have done something to "deserve" it? I think the only way to correct it is to discuss it.
So let's talk about it. What are your thoughts?
As for me, I'll just be over here, wearing whatever the hell I damn well please. Yoga pants for life.