The weekend was incredibly busy and overwhelming socially. I’m still recovering.
On the first Saturday of the month there’s a big gathering at the yarn shop and the place was full. I arrived early and stayed after. Somehow the clock at home went from 8:07 to 10:35 in three and a half minutes and I missed breakfast, which may have had something to do with how the rest of the day went.
There’s a guy who showed up at the usual Wednesday evening gathering. I don’t like him. He sets off my Freak-Dar lights and sirens but the other ladies think he’s just fine. He’s a young-ish man with prison tattoos and the look of the newly-released. He has not brought any project to work on and in fact claims not to know how to knit or crochet or to have money to buy supplies. He just wants to sit and visit and enjoy all the creative energy. Yeeeee-aaaaahhhhh. Dude creeps me out. He was there and in fact sat next to me, upping his creep factor exponentially. I don’t like his vibe at what is normally a very friendly gathering of like-minded people. More on him as the story develops.
After 5 or so hours of socializing Sabu and I headed for the dog park where we found three young springer spaniels romping about. They weren’t interested in Sabu, but they reliably fetched her ball over and over again which amused me greatly.
After awhile a very large pit bull showed up with his people. The dog (an intact male – don’t get me started on why that’s wrong!) was rather shy and didn’t want to play with the pups, who left soon afterwards. The couple did not look like locals. They wore brand new camo pants tucked into boots (not military boots, but Dog Park Boots) with rather dressy-looking jackets, obviously expensive. It was a discordant combination, but whatever. There’s an RV camping park within the State Park that also houses the dog park and we get all kinds.
The husband, Raymond (we’ll call him Ray from now on because it’s easier to type) spoke at some length about their conversion to a vegan diet three years ago (everything good for him started three years ago when he had an epiphany, but this did not become apparent for awhile) and how their dog is also vegan because they don’t want to consume the chemicals, hormones and antibiotics found in meat. Fine. I am on board for knowing what’s in your food and making informed decisions about what to consume. I even agree that factory farmed meat is not a good choice if you want to live a healthy life.
Then the conversation went a bit sideways. Now, normally I would not engage with a wacko, but I had not eaten, it was 3:00 on a beautiful sunny afternoon and I didn’t have anywhere to be until Sabu pooped, so I decided to start poking at the guy. Just for fun, you understand.
He asked me if I knew about chemtrails. Uh. Nope. Hoo-boy! I got an earful about that and then started asking questions.
“How far down do you figure the conspiracy goes?” I asked. “I mean, does the guy who puts the chemicals into the fuel know what he’s doing? Do you think he cares that he’s poisoning himself and all his descendants? How would the government keep those guys in line? Is money enough or do they use threats?” And so on in this vein until he changed the subject. Seems he was quite comfortable with the idea that Big Government was poisoning the world in their quest to reduce the population and bring about the New World Order prophesied in the bible, but the thought of one single Dude knowingly pouring poison into the atmosphere made him squirm. Interesting.
Predictably the conversation turned to god and his relationship with this particular dude. I heaved in internal sigh when Ray said, “I don’t mean to offend you, but I don’t know your religious background…”
Not wanting to give him any hints as to what my beliefs might be, I simply said, “none,” with a shrug.
His eyes lit up like it was Christmas morning and he launched into his spiel about the errors of his youth with respect to what he was taught about the bible. Turns out the church authorities of his younger days had it all wrong with their portrayal of god as a vengeful ruler who damned all people to hellfire for the slightest of “sins.” HIS god is a just, merciful god, and isn’t that a wonderful thing? Oh, he was positively beaming at that point, waiting for me to do…something…I never know with these people.
So, being my mother’s daughter, I said, “My problem is not with god, or with anyone who believes in a god, just and merciful or not. I take issue with organized religion and its crimes against women and children. I can’t stand behind any religious organization that would take away my right to choose and demand that me and my children submit to a man as head of my family, regardless of his ability to handle that role. I don’t believe in an organization that kills millions of people because they don’t have the same belief or who enslaves another people just because the color of their skin is darker. I realize that Rich White Dudes rule the world, but I don’t have to like it and I don’t have to subscribe to their propaganda, either.”
He was taken aback but jumped right onto my hottest button: abortion. I don’t remember his exact words, but he made it clear that he believes life begins at conception and to end that life is a horrible thing that only the most wicked of women even consider.
My reply was scathing. “No woman takes the decision to have an abortion lightly – that you think we do is because you are a man and will never face that decision. What about instances of rape?”
You’re gonna love this!
“Women VERY rarely get pregnant as a result of rape,” he said, “it’s too traumatic an event and pregnancy just doesn’t happen…”
“I don’t find that true, based on my personal experience,” I said.
Blink. Blink. Blink. For a moment he was lost for words.
His wife had been pretty much silent, nodding her head occasionally, obviously used to Ray’s public proselytizing and not in any hurry to leave, but at my remark her head came up and she looked me in the eyes. I couldn’t tell what her expression meant, but I like to think she was urging me to poke him again to see what he would say to this break in his routine.
He spluttered and repeated that it was “rare.”
“I think you need to reconsider the word ‘rape’ and take into account the ‘non-violent’ occurrences that happen every day, some of which DO end up causing pregnancy.” Hunger pangs were beginning to sour my mood, as was the smug face of this man without a clue.
He started in about how the “body rejects a pregnancy when it comes with violence….” and I told him that was bullshit and I based that opinion on my own personal experience.
Obviously uncomfortable with my insistence, he changed tacks and I was immediately reminded of the narc and his circular arguments. This was turning into an entertaining experiment.
“If a woman has the right to end a life, shouldn’t a man have that same right?” he asked. “Can a man just sign away his obligations to a child he doesn’t want? Do you see that happening?”
“A man can wear a condom and make it very hard for a woman to get pregnant if he doesn’t want children, and he can indeed sign away his parental rights here in Oregon. My first husband did.”
“Just like that? A man can’t deny his obligations, his responsibilities with the stroke of a pen! That’s absurd!”
“Yeah, he can. The father of my son did. He did not pay one penny of child support, nor has he once seen or even asked about his son in the past 22 years. Just. Like. That.”
We went round and round for awhile in this vein. He doesn’t believe in sex education and I pointed out that abstinence only education Does Not Work, nor does slut shaming, victim blaming or denying the problem exists. Sexualizing young girls, teaching them they only have worth as sex objects from the time they’re small children and giving men power over them everywhere they turn has created a rape culture that leads to all of the things he’s so outraged about.
He denied my interpretations. I pointed out that he’s not a woman and has no idea what I, personally, have had to endure in my life. He has no concept of the things I’ve had to do to keep a job, keep a roof over my head, to keep my son fed, to exist in a world controlled by Rich White Dudes. He has no idea how hard it can be for a young woman to say no when a man who has power over her (real or perceived) demands sex and that we need to educate and encourage all women to be strong and independent, punish men who beat and rape and shirk their responsibilities, and then we might approach the nirvana he seems to live every day.
He made some asinine comment about good men and blah, blah, blah, but I was mad by that point and said, “there are a lot of bad men out there. I’ve met many of them. You have no idea.”
He could see the conversation was over and so he said again, “I hope I haven’t offended you…”
This is, of course, my cue as a submissive woman to thank him for enlightening me and apologize for being rude and disagreeing. Instead I said, “you haven’t offended me. We can agree to disagree. I haven’t lived your life. Just remember that you haven’t lived mine, either.”
There was much more to the conversation, but I won’t bore you with details.
While we were talking, Sabu was trying everything she could think of to get Tank the pitbull to play with her. He was very gentle and shy for the longest time, not wanting to get physical, but Sabu insisted she wanted to wrestle and he finally obliged. What followed was an epic wrestling match and Tank falling in love with Sabu so hard he was drooling all over himself. At last! Here was a female he could relate to! She wasn’t having any of his mounting efforts, but he was undeterred – she’d come around sooner or later, right? It was a mirror of the human conversation.
In the end, we left the park, me feeling a bit slimed, Sabu literally covered in slime. It was a good day.
For the record, I have never become pregnant as a result of violent rape, nor had an abortion, but I will fight to my last breath to defend any woman’s right to choose, regardless of circumstances and I will continue to school ignorant assholes whenever I meet them. I just can’t keep silent any longer, even knowing that I can’t really change anything with my truth telling.