This one takes the prize. Last week while traveling, I awoke at 2:00 a.m. to hear voices outside my room. Irritated, I opened my door to see three business men congregated in the hall who didn’t realize that their post-drinking voices were interfering with my slumber. “If you guys could keep it down a little, it’s late,” I said. They were most polite. They didn’t realize their voices were carrying and that they were right in front of my room. They apologized and went to their respective rooms. I returned to my bed. Ten minutes later, just as I was dozing off, the phone rang. I wondered if the concierge had messed up my wake up call, setting it for the wrong time.
“Hello,” I mumbled.
“I’m sorry we woke you up.” It was one of the guys.
Ever the politely trained puppet, I replied, “That’s okay,” although I was thinking, “And you’re waking me up again!”
I expected the guy to hang up but he waited a beat then asked with complete sincerity, “Do you want a roommate?”
My groggy brain tried to register the implication. He was asking me if I wanted to sleep with him. I had never seen this man in my life other than for some 30 seconds in the hallway. We hadn’t had a drink in the bar. A conversation or even a previous glance. And there is nothing attractive about me at 2:00 a.m. unless hair that looks like a cross between a bird’s nest and a chia pet turns you on.
I slammed down the phone and then couldn’t fall back to sleep. I felt 100% violated. What right did this stranger have to call me in the middle of the night and proposition me for sex? Was he so clueless as to not consider that I might have a husband in my bed or want to be left alone so that I could work the next day? Are we such a base hook up culture that men actually think women desire this? And whatever happened to sex being a sacred covenantal act?
I am not an object but that is how women are so often treated. And this guy wasn’t so drunk that he couldn’t register my room number. He just wanted to get it on and I was the closest object in his line of vision.
As more people have come out about their sexual orientation, I remember the reaction many heterosexual men had when males started to openly acknowledge they were gay. Homophobia not withstanding, many heterosexual men were suddenly fearful that they would be the object of unwanted sexual advances. “We can’t have gay men in the locker room or the military. They’ll flirt with me. Or come on to me. Or worse still, they’ll throw themselves at me,” was a constant refrain.
“Welcome to my world,” I wanted to shout. Try being a woman for a day. And try treating women the way you would like to be treated. Like a person. Gentlemen, is this how you want your daughters and sisters and mothers to be treated?
This is not just a rant about my irritating slimy experience in a hotel (that by the way was not at a cheap run down dive). This is part of a much bigger problem.
The night before the Super Bowl, the PBS Newshour ran a story about how sex trafficking increases at high profile sporting events. Men want to continue the games after the game and so look for a little action. And they do this by paying for it, not realizing that some of the women (and girls) being pimped out are actually the equivalent of slaves. We take outrage at our history of slavery in this country (as we should!) and yet fail to realize we still have it occurring right under our noses. But when people become objects, we don’t recognize it as such.
We have not come a long way, baby. We have so much longer to go.
I almost didn’t write this post because I felt ashamed. Yet I had not been raped. I was not violated. I did nothing wrong. And yet just by being treated as an object, I was already internalizing the thought process of victimization. “I’d better not say anything. This will reflect badly on me. I must have done something wrong. Otherwise, this wouldn’t have happened.”
And that is OUTRAGEOUS. And no, it won’t make me want to sleep with you.