The following is a guest post submitted by Samantha. She's a 20 year old full time college student at Knox College where she's a biology major hoping to go into research.
This weekend I was heading home to celebrate my birthday with my family and while on the train I sat across from a woman and her husband. I had taken out my computer to do some homework on the train they noticed how big it was (it has a 17 inch screen) and started making sexual jokes at me and each other, saying “it’s size that matters” or “it’s the inches that are important” or “I’d rather have longer battery life because it doesn’t matter how big it is if it doesn’t last long.” I have never met these people in my life and they felt comfortable making me uncomfortable with these sexual jokes. It’s one thing if I’ve been friends with someone for a while and they start making jokes, but complete strangers? Not ok.
Later in the ride the conductor came through telling us that we have to get our bags down early because once the train goes below ten miles an hour the lights would go off. Well the man asked the conductor when he should grab his bag. The conductor started to repeat that they would give an announcement when his wife interrupted her saying, “He meant me, I’m his bag.” The poor conductor didn’t know what to say and finally decided on “that’s not nice.” The wife’s response was “he can say anything he wants because I’ve got these” while showing all the rings that were on her fingers. There were about 4 rings and they were covered with diamonds. She is teaching her children, three girls and two boys, that it’s ok for men to be derogatory toward women as long as they give them expensive presents! They’re also teaching the boys that it’s alright to be derogatory towards women as long as they can give them shiny things in return. Also that every woman will forgive them for their remarks as long as they bribe them with something shiny and expensive. The saddest thing about this incident was that I know that there really are some women (besides the wife on the train) that think like this; that it’s ok for men to say anything they want about women and they’ll be fine with it as long as they buy them expensive gifts.
How is her daughter ever going to learn the correct way a man should treat her if the only examples she has is of her mother who lets her stepfather saying derogatory things in very public places; not that it would be more appropriate in private but if it’s a private joke or something then it should definitely stay in private. I just feel terrible for her children, it’s so sad that they have to grow up in this environment. I hope that they have some kind of role model that can show them that it’s not ok for husbands to be derogatory towards their wives as long as they can compensate with jewelry.