I was at the gas station yesterday getting, guesswhatnokidding, gasoline. When I got out of my car, I noticed a group of middle-aged white men sitting on the back of a pick-up truck and cussing. Like realllly cussing. And the whole time I was getting gas, I was scared that they would look over at me and see an uppity, elitist, non-white bitch who needed to be taken down a peg.
I went to Starbucks afterwards and spent the entire time evaluating whether or not the weird customer wearing the hunting vest and carrying a vaguely threatening metal cane was a potential mass shooter. I actually considered bolting for the door when he went to the bathroom, only staying because, as I told myself repeatedly, the likelihood that he would be able to hide a gun inside of his cane was infinitesimal. I also convinced myself several times that the other male customers in Kroger were following me through the parking lot. It was like, noon.
Two observations on this incident:
1) Fear of rape runs deep. To be a woman in this country, and really, most everywhere, is to be constantly on guard.
2) I am uppity and elitist and probably need to be (gently) taken down a peg. I would not have been as scared of a group of unruly white male i-bankers cussing, as they are wont to do, and if I had been scared, I wouldn’t have continued to be scared, because if I had run into a group of unruly white male i-bankers cussing, I probably would have been in a nicer area of town. I also would not have assumed that said unruly white male i-bankers were racist. Stupid, maybe, but not racist. Unruly white male i-bankers are innocent until proven guilty. Unruly white male construction workers are guilty until proven innocent. I clearly have some class-traitor issues to work out because my grandpa was a white male construction worker who was probably unruly at least once.
Let’s take a quick look at how aspects of my identity impacted my fear:
I am a half-Asian, liberal, elite (by means of education) woman.
1) half-Asian- fear of racial violence, typically instigated by white males, sometimes instigated by black males (L.A. riots)
2) liberal- fear of politically motivated violence by conservatives. Loosely translates to fear of Southerners.
3) elite- fear of the working class and working poor, accompanied by a propensity to judge others by their clothing, whether or not they live in cities, and their level of “civilization.” Also accompanied by the assumption that others are jealous of you.
4) woman- fear of rape
So, in the above situation, fear of rape, which is pretty broad, was filtered down to fear of racially and politically motivated rape by Southern, working class men who are resentful of my “status.” And, in fact, according to my fear rubric, this situation is actually my worst rape-related fear because it puts ALLL the fears together.
Don’t you love intersectionality?