It can really throw you off balance when you run into the human personification of your ideological worst nightmare. I am still reeling from my encounter a few minutes ago. I was out running some errands, which included stopping at a shop downtown that I enjoy searching through. They have a lot of interesting things and also will buy some stuff off you if it is interesting enough. Well I was selling some old DVD’s when I struck up a conversation with the owner (something I try to force myself to do in order to get out of my autistic comfort zone). It started out friendly enough until I came to the subject of politics. I mentioned that I really did not care for Bush and he, to my surprise, agreed with me and declared he had voted for Kerry in ’04. I said I did as well (little white lie to keep the conversation going: I was 7 months shy of my 18th Birthday in 2004, but I would have voted for him) and thought that for once I had found someone over the age of 30 in this town who was not a Tea Party fool…and then it all fell apart.
I told the man that I reserved my vote for the person who I felt could best express my values and philosophical beliefs. I paused expecting my conversation partner to agree, and he did…To a degree. “I will vote for any man who think has the capacity to run the country well…and I do mean man. If you know what I mean.” He then stared intently into my face, waiting to see if he was in the presence of a fellow misogynist compatriot. I all but felt the white- heterosexual male privilege oozing from his pores and reaching out for a high five. I declined to meet him halfway.
“Umm…Well I am afraid I do not know what you mean.” I suddenly felt like I had walked into a meeting of Klan members.
“Well, I mean I will only vote for a man. Men are placed over women by God, and I don’t even want to think about the trouble our world would get into if a female were in control of things. The Bible tells us how things are supposed to be.”
At this point I could not even keep a friendly smile on my face. “Well I supported Hillary Clinton in 2008, and I think she would have made an amazing President. I still think she would. And anyway, I’m an atheist and don’t really buy into biblical morality.”
This seemed to take the man aback a bit. He was honestly expecting me to agree with him I think. He blinked a few times before responding. He seemed to be choosing his words carefully. “Yeah, well, yeah. I respect your different view (his vaguely disgusted expression told me that he obviously did not)…But that does not make right and wrong any less right and wrong. Man was placed as the head of woman for a reason.”
It was at this point that I almost broke out laughing, and I think I confused the poor schlub with the smile that spread across my face. There were a thousand snarky comments I had on the tip of my tongue, and I was ready willing and able to have a debate right there, but I knew it was futile given that he was a Christian and a Tea Party hack…and he was buying my shit and I really did need the gas money…So I just said “I guess we gotta agree to disagree. I personally think that things would be a ton better if women ran things for awhile” . After receiving a deathly stare in the place of a response I took my money and left. I broke out laughing as soon as left the shop though. It is one thing hearing Rick Santorum and Catholic bishops inveigle against the wiles of the women folk, but it was quite another to have to encounter it in real life…and 5 blocks from my apartment!
It was an eye opening experience indeed, and I think next time I visit his shop I might wear my “I’m a feminist” T-Shirt. Maybe we’ll have an interesting conversation about it.