It sucks to be mistaken for a pervert, as I learned this past weekend when I was caught doing something I do almost every day.
My young nephew and I went to the World of Coke on Saturday, and on our way home we went down the Great Escalator of the Peachtree Center MARTA station, which I figured could thrill a 7-year-old as if it were an urban Wonder of the World. My nephew didn’t disappoint in his awe, and given the option, he soaked up the 2-minute ride instead of walking down the escalator.
About midway down, it occurred to me that we were standing side-by-side, and I twisted my head backward to make sure we weren’t blocking anyone who wanted to pass. I was relieved no one was behind us, but suddenly realized that an attractive woman in flattering clothing had just passed me going up the escalator.
I chuckled about how it might seem like I swiveled my head to look at her booty and up her skirt, but then turned I my head forward and saw about 10 other people on the “up” escalator behind her, many of them looking at me, believing I was looking at her, and none of them looked humored. I could hear them sighing about what pigs men are, and know their breath would have been mine had I witnessed what they thought they saw.
Daily, I see women trying to get to work, grab something to eat or ride the train while being bombarded with catcalls and other disrespectful overtures; men using their dogged eyes to undress a woman in less than three seconds, and let their gaze linger on and explore her body. This visual lust feels worse than whistling or lame pick-up lines, as if I am watching a woman being held hostage by the thoughts of a man (and often several men) whose existence she didn’t notice.
It’s disturbing to witness this play out countless times a day, even though I benefit from it in my frequent molestation of straight men. When I see men helping themselves to an unwitting woman, I usually help myself to a generous glimpse of their bulge.
I look to see if it grows, then imagine it growing, then I imagine us doing things that would keep them from getting into heaven. They are naked in less than two seconds, and filled with a sudden curiosity about stimulated penises and prostates.
It feels immoral to let my imagination consecrate its desires without the slightest consent from the other man (and often several men), and I know it perpetuates misogyny and rape culture. Of course there’s a sense of justice in subjecting abusers to their own misdeeds, and a testicular satisfaction in supplanting straight men atop the sexual food chain.
I wrestled with these conflicting instincts when I was boarding a bus the other day and noticed a shirtless, glistening man in flattering shorts running toward me. I strained my periphery vision to enjoy the dowsing of muscular sweatiness that was passing by, then willed my focus toward paying my fare.
That’s when I saw that, discretion be damned, the female MARTA driver had lifted her sunglasses and was craning her neck to reach her mental orgasm with the jogger. I almost got jealous for a moment, but figured I had him first.