It was gendered

Dear President Trump,

I flew to Portland late last night after my first political essay writing class (!) for a three-day VA meeting. The class ended at 9pm and the meeting in Portland started at 8am and there just wasn’t another (safe) way to make the trip that would allow me to get here on time.

That’s just some context so you know why I’m telling you about something I saw at the airport and what I encountered on the plane. The thing I saw at the airport was a new sign inside the bathroom stall door letting people know that the Port of Seattle is a “Safe Place,” meaning that people are encouraged to report sexual assault and harassment and that if someone is being trafficked or suspects someone is being trafficked to please tell someone there at the airport. I hope the same signs are in in the men’s bathrooms too. It’s important both because men could be experiencing such things themselves, and it puts men on notice that crappy sexualized behavior is not ok. I’ll see if I can find out whether they are in the men’s rooms.

Ok, the plane thing was that when I finally boarded at 11:30 and got to my aisle, there was a middle-aged white man in my window seat. I checked the damn little seating chart on the overhead bin three times even though I know the F seat is the window seat. He wouldn’t make eye contact and just sat sprawled out leaning into the corner looking sort of in my direction but refusing to see me. What’s a tired woman to do? What’s a tired woman who had tried to get an aisle seat earlier in the day but couldn’t, to do? Apparently this one twists, fusses internally and decides not to say anything because she really did want the aisle and it seemed dumb to stand on principal when it would mean ending up in an unwanted seat.

But oh, did he piss me off with that “I dare you” insouciant entitlement. As I stood there weighing what to do, I decided that if I’d been relegated to the middle seat I would have had to engage him and ask him to move. However, the middle seat was empty and I wanted the aisle and I couldn’t figure out a way to get him to acknowledge the trespass (feels too strong but can’t come up with a better word right now) without coming off sounding stupid. Now I’m not sure I made the right call since I’m obsessing about it.

Maybe he would have done the same thing if I’d been a man. Maybe I wouldn’t have said anything to another woman. Both are possible, but both are not likely. This was gendered.

May we be safe from our own and one another’s entitlement.
May we be willing to let ourselves not fight every fight.
May we stay strong even when others look right through us.
May we breathe and make peace within ourselves so we can hang in over the long haul.

Tracy Simpson

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