Intersectionality Story Time
Hey kids, gather round, it’s time for Auntie Shinobi’s intersectionality story time. Frankly I’m not totally sure what the moral of this story is, but it happened to me this morning, and it was a really interesting coming together of a number of different issues that are important to me. (Eating, Racial Privilege, Women’s body issues, and yelling on trains.) So I thought I would share it.
I was attempting to nap on the southbound purple line this morning. I was sitting next to a young girl. She was quiet and well behaved and I don’t know if she had a parent with her as I was trying to nap. When all of the sudden the yelling started. A woman near the entrance of the train began yelling about “Watching a young girl eat” and how the perpetrator should be ashamed of themselves.
At first I was confused I thought perhaps does she was concerned about some kind of pedo-feeder-fetish thing. But then I realized through the very high volume discourse she was conducting that she was concerned about the emotional effects on this young girl who was just eating her breakfast. (Which I think was a bagel sandwich from Dunkin Donuts. Yum.)
Apparently our speaker (who I will henceforth refer to as the Duchess of Decibels because she was both impressively loud and very concerned that everyone know a lot about how important and upper class her ancestry was) felt that the woman was judging this little girl for eating her breakfast.
Further complicating this dynamic was the fact that the staring woman was white, and the girl was black. (As is the Duchess of Decibels) The Duchess continued to upbraid this woman for several minutes. She touched on a lot of major issues about race and the fucked up standards that white women apply to eating and how that little girl did not need to be given those issues at such a young age. Her rant culminated in some major put downs that made the part of me that appreciates a well formed insult want to get up and hug her. I wish I could quote it verbatim, oh to have had an audio recording going but it was pretty much “You sit there in your business casual attire and act all upper class but really you are trash.” I want someone to give this woman a TV show.
Of course another white woman joined in the fray, attempting to get the Duchess of Decibels to stop yelling. I am not sure what she said at first, but she said something about language, which is interesting because I don’t remember hearing The Duchess curse until AFTER she was called on her language. She said she had a 10 year old too, but pretty much didn’t get very far before the Duchess told her that she DID NOT CARE. IF you were wondering what the Duchess things of what white women on trains think, let me tell you, she does not care, I know this because she told us repeatedly.
And y’know what? I don’t blame her, I don’t expect her to care what a woman who was trying to shut her up has to say, nor do I expect her to care what I think. But you’re reading my blog, so you obviously care what I think. (Either that or you have been tragically misled as to what the content of this blog is going to be.)
So here is what I think:
I wish that this conversation could have been had in a different way. I saw the Duchess of Decibels being spoken to by a CTA employee as I transferred cars, so I know this ultimately did not go well for her. And I think she had a good point. Unfortunately the way she went about expressing it made one question whether or not she was on drugs. Some of her behaviors were very similar to what I’ve seen people on drugs do, but she was also very clear on some of her points and her speech was clear and not at all slurred. So I don’t know, she could have just been someone who had had it up to heaven with other people’s BS and so she snapped.
And just like I don’t know what was going on with the Duchess of Decibles to make her so loud and repetitive, I don’t know what was actually going on with the staring women. Maybe she was judging the girl, but she might have just been hungry too. I did see her on the other train and I think she also might just be one of those people who constantly looks disgusted. (This is a weird phenomenon, I had friend of a friend with this problem, I thought she hated me because whenever I saw her she looked like she smelled something unpleasant. But it turns out that is just what her face looked like.)
But I did really enjoyed hearing all the pretentious people on our train car getting called out. Because you know what, pretentious suburbanites are annoying, I’m tired of rude people and judgmental attitudes.
And I was really glad to see someone stand up for a little girl’s right to eat in a public place. This girl was not fat, maybe a little chubby, but it was perfectly reasonable for her to be eating a breakfast sandwich on her way to school. She had a right to eat and not be judged.
I wish Michelle Obama had been a fly on the wall during this encounter, so maybe she could understand why her obesity initiative might actually be hurting children. This girl was just trying to get some breakfast on her way to school. But (assuming the Duchess’s interpretation was correct) she was being judged for it. And I’m sure that will not be the last time that happens to her or any other kid who eats something other than apple or carrot slices in public. While kids do need access to healthy foods we need to not shame people for their eating choices, especially kids at such a young age.