This past week has been interesting. On Tuesday while I was bartending an attractive older woman (35, in her words) came in and was very flirtatious with me. I had seen her once before at another bar in the area. Her and I came to talking and she informed that the only reason she was at my bar was because she heard that I worked there.
For context, I work in Foley, a small town about fifteen miles away from St. Cloud. I ended up in Foley because when I returned from my summer job I needed to find work. For about a week I aimlessly scrolled through Craigslist in search of an opportunity. Eventually I found a golf course that was looking for a bartender, so I contacted them and soon after I was hired.
Befitting the stereotype, Foley is a highly traditional and religious small town. I was not initially welcomed by some of the local patrons, for a multitude of reasons. Since I’m originally from the suburbs, many people in Foley automatically think I am a no good city slicker who stands against everything they support. I have been called “dumb as a box of rocks” and “gay,” albeit not to my face. These experiences show how ignorant some people can be. It’s not surprising that they would think someone who wears anything other than camouflage sweatshirts has to have something wrong with them. Still, to characterize someone like they have characterized me is absolutely pathetic. It shouldn’t matter whether these select individuals think I’m dumb or gay. I’m there to do a job, and there is nothing wrong with being less intelligent or homosexual. We are all people who deserve to be treated with respect.
Since it is election season, I have heard on numerous occasions the predictable right wing views. I have nothing against people who are more republican than democrat, but I quickly tired of people referring to Hilary Clinton using derogatory and sexist language. Like every election season, it became more about what Hilary wasn’t instead of what Donald Trump was.
It should be noted that many people I see regularly at the bar are great people. They are the majority and they treat me as one of their own. They are the reason I love going to work there.
But anyways, back to the attractive woman. As I mentioned, she was there to hang out with me. Her saying this was very flattering. Oddly, her behavior intensified once her friend showed up. Together, they became more explicit in their thoughts about me, objectifying me in ways I have so rarely experienced. It is nice to be complimented, but there is a certain extent to which one should be open.
Don’t get me wrong: I was loving the attention for most of this encounter, but then it got to the point where they were attempting, rather horribly, to secretly photograph me. Along with the highly sexual language, I eventually became uncomfortable. At one point, I realized that if I, or any other man, were behaving this way towards a woman, the repercussions would have been much more intense, perhaps evolving into sexual harassment.
I know this type of behavior happens to women much more than it does to men, but it is interesting how when the binary is shifted, the severity is much less. Again, I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy being the subject of their gaze, but the gender gap here is something worthy of discussion, in my opinion.