I teach at a public middle school. Every Wednesday, I have lunch cafeteria duty. After watching 6th graders “eat,” we follow them out to the field for recess where they play soccer, four square, basketball, but mostly just hang out.
Last Wednesday, at the adjacent football field, I noticed someone getting out of his car to go jogging around the track.
A few years ago, I would have ignored it.
No one’s on the track now. He’ll probably leave if the coaches need it.
But that was before. Before Sandy Hook; before Uvalde.
Ninety-nine percent chance there’s no problem.
Almost time for seventh period.
One percent was too much.
I jogged out to the field. “Sorry, but there’s no non-school folks allowed on campus during school hours.” I remembered that my students make fun of me when I use the word, “folks.”
He gave me a few “C’mons,” and “Two more laps,” and “Be cools,” but I said he had to go.
It was clear he wasn’t going to go.
“Look, you’re not allowed to be here. You watch the news, right? I’m sure you’re just here to run, but… you understand, right?”
Finally, I told him if he refused to leave I had to call someone. Who was I going to call? No idea! But I was going to call… someone.
And then he let it fly, “Why don’t you put in a tampon and calm down?!”
That was a new one. He was trying to insult me by comparing me to a woman who’s menstruating. In his mind, he was cutting me down to size. He wanted to make me feel smaller and weaker. I said, “You just insulted all women.“
I get it. He was trying to tell me that I was being hysterical for asking him to leave the campus. What he revealed is that he believes women to be typically hysterical or
ional, or something. He believes it’s inherent to who they are — that it’s their biology. And he meant it. He may not have realized it, but he meant it. He must’ve heard the words come out of his mouth, because right after I called him on it, he started talking about his love for his mother, or something. I’m not sure, because I was already looking at my watch, realizing I might be late to my 7th period to teach them to cite their sources in their upcoming debates.
By the way, it’s a common insult of men to accuse each other of being a woman. I remember in high school and college it was a way to mess with and shame friends.
“Don’t be such a Sally.”
“Why don’t you grow a pair?”
“Pull up your skirt and get going!”
There was a time I would laugh at these jokes and even participate. There’s a lot about my life that I look back and cringe.
It reveals what some men, and even some women, think about women — weak, emotional, and inadequate.
The typical defense used is, “I respect women, because I have a wife, a daughter, a sister, a mother.”
I don’t doubt he loves his mother. I wonder what she would say, though, if she heard his words.
He was a young man – maybe 25, which made me sad, because I thought we were getting past this. I thought the younger generation was a little more enlightened — better than us.
His youth also gave me hope that maybe he’ll change. He has time. I hope one day he can look back and cringe.