I spent last Saturday night on a dance floor. From the time the smoke infested stream of rapid-fire lighting and sound commenced I was moving my toes about the ticky-tacky floor. Great humans, a mix of new and old friends, danced and conversed ’round me. And for the majority of the evening, I was left to my own devices. As any new mother-woman knows, I was so appreciative of this. For it isn’t often that this mother of one, this wife, this stay at home wordsmith, gets to groove as she likes without interruption or responsibility.
And yet, a few occasions presented themselves where I or another girl’s free-loving space was invaded abruptly.
The first occasion was one that any woman in a club of sorts has witnessed or experienced. Just when a gal finds herself twisting deep into the slippery notes of a song, and even deeper into a laugh with a friend, she is interrupted by a male’s hard gaze. A male that has been lurking on the sidelines, seeking out something soft and vulnerable for most of the eve. You know this kind of human–the kind that gives dance clubs a bad rep. The kind that makes any woman (or person, surely–alas, I can only speak from a woman’s POV) feel sleazy just for dancing with her companions.
These gawking humans are selfish, for they take away so much more from a person than they ever plan to give. And if their invasive gaze doesn’t steal enough of someone’s momentary bliss, their all-too grabby hands and sweaty bodies attempting to press against her will.
On this eve, the dance floor consisted mainly of friends and friendly vibes. All too suddenly there he was–Mr. McGrabster. Just standing there, drink in hand, head slightly bobbing. He stared openly at anything and anyone he wished. Immediately, I stopped dancing as freely, checking my articles of clothing because a woman must constantly check herself to ensure she is no way “asking for it.”
A few songs later, I forgot his presence as I swayed with a girlfriend. We laughed and sang loudly. And I just spun, spun, spun. When I came to from my reverie, I noted that Mr. McGrabster had come out from his hiding spot and was inching towards my friend. She gave me that help me look. I immediately covered her back with my own body–still dancing but now with clear motives to separate any ties he attempted to form. Luckily, he backed off and was not seen again.
This is not a shocking account. This is not new. I am abundantly, stress-induced, anxiety-ridden, and so fully aware that this post follows a maddeningly long pursuit against a sexual assault that you can read about here. Instances just like this wee one where a human acts more predator, more animal, than he should in a place where others (females in this case) are acting out parts of themselves they normally cannot show, leaves me reeling.
When can I drop my guard? When can I exist in any number of places as my counterparts do without fearing safety for myself or for my friends?
Perhaps I’m too much of a momma cub. Just a few weeks ago, I attended a wedding, and could not leave a girlfriend’s side as she talked to a male stranger, even though she assured me that she was fine, she was okay, and to go back inside. Perhaps I’ve been marred by too many instances of abuse. Perhaps rose-colored glasses are not in season.
Once, a mother of a friend stated that she walks through life with the concern that she could be taken advantage of in various forms at any moment. She said, “Like I walk ’round knowing in the back of my mind that rape is a reality.”
When I go hiking, I constantly scan the woods for predators of the male variety. Is this normal? Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps.
Hence, Occasion One: men taking center stage in women’s wee moments of fun is so disheartening. I guess I want to understand why someone would want to disrupt two women in such a happy state–strangers to the Mr. McGrabster, no less.
Takeaway: if you are a grabby guy, I urge you to check yourself before strutting your flair up to the nearest fembot, regardless of how interested or happy that you think she appears to be.
I’ve one more occasion from my evening of dance-y affairs. Though the scene may sound less familiar, the vibes noted felt relevant to write. (Pray, keep in mind that I live in a tiny town dedicated to criticism from every angle. These inhabitants also have the ability to love with just as much emphasis, and thus I do not mean to insinuate that this is not a wonderful place to dwell in. Maybe because our arts and humanities or extracurricular departments are also tiny, we inevitably discuss people and what they are doing as opposed to ideas and concepts–bigger things stretching outside of ourselves and our town. I do not know, and I do not wish to judge, myself–indeed, a later post.)
You see, dear reader, I have recently begun to live how I want to live, and to raise my son how I want to raise him, paying less and less mind to others. For judgements of any sort are as tiny and narrow as the ground traipsed upon and consider home within these county lines. And this is precisely what occurred while I was mid-groove, dancing by myself within a group of wonderfully brilliant lives. As I danced, my gaze happened to hit the doorway where someone I used to know (a relative, even) stood. What an odd juxtaposition to see him standing so still looking upon the commotion filling the interior spaces. I at once felt judged for being so free and full and fine. There I was, a married woman with a toddler (at my ah-mazing sister-in-laws for the eve), utterly lost in dance steps and in myself. This man filling the door frame was also alone, a wife and child elsewhere, and yet because I am female, I automatically felt guilty for being out. For enjoying myself. Later, I pondered if he even saw me. If he judged me. If he ever feels guilty for partying with friends instead of being with his son. How odd to be so alone and yet so filled with thoughts in an equally chaotic environment.
I am that girl on the dance floor. Your mother is that girl on the dance floor. Your sister is that girl on the dance floor. Your daughter is that girl on the dance floor.
How would you look upon her? How would you approach her? How would you leave her and take her and just how would you touch her?
The remainder of the evening had me tracing my footwork back to those two sets of glaring eyes, the hard faces of men that I felt I knew in various ways. When I woke, I wished to never see the whites of those gawking misconceived notions ever again.
Oh, how I wish for that girl on the dance floor to be left alone to shimmy up, up, up.