July 17, 2009

Dangerous Questions

I walked into Union Square and couldn’t help but notice the exposed and ample breasts of a young woman in pink sitting on one of the low steps leading toward the subway. Of course I glanced at them in passing--they were lovely to me-- and the woman with a rather plain square face looked away from me as she probably looked away from any man who noticed them. All but her nipples were showing. I stood behind her a few moments, and then followed my inspiration.

I sat beside her but not too close.

“Excuse me,” I ventured. “I don’t mean to intrude on your thoughts or to bother you, and I will leave immediately if you tell me to, but may I ask you a question?”

She looked at my aged and wrinkled face for a moment and answered affirmatively.

“I’m a writer (I showed her the notebook of scribbling I always carry,) and an amateur actor. Not long ago I expressed to the director of a play I’m in a wish that I were a woman. I had reasons for this, but I won’t go into them. This young woman, very talented and perceptive, suggested that I try writing something from a woman’s viewpoint. So I attempted it.”

She looked at me in silence.

“I took the easiest way and wrote myself a letter from a fictional woman, and sent it to her for inspection, because I trust her judgment in matters of art and talent. She’s much-better-educated than I am and has a record of accomplishment in the arts that I will probably never attain at my age. I suppose she might be too busy to get into it. It's an emotion-laden topic between men and women, or maybe she's too circumspect and diplomatic to criticize it directly. It was very difficult to write. When I was writing it, I realized for the first time that I hardly have an inkling of what goes through women’s minds.”

“I see,” she said, nodding for me to continue.

“I want to ask you something, because I really want to know, and I beg you not to be offended, because I mean no offense. I just want to understand, okay?”

“Okay.”

“How do you feel,” I asked, “when you see a man on the street or anywhere looking at your breasts?”

“I don’t like it,” she said emphatically.

“But you are showing them. Almost all of them. I saw them from 25 feet away. You must be aware of how much you are showing.”

“I don’t like it when they stare.”

“What if they don’t stare,”I continued, "but merely look for a moment as I did, as probably every man passing here does?”


“I still don’t like it,” she said.

She pulled her dress up to cover them.

“Then why are you showing them? You must know that they are attractive to most men, that many men are sexually-aroused by them.”

“I just don’t like it,” she said with an edge to her voice, showing me that I was stepping over a line of some sort.

“Maybe you just haven’t thought about it,” I said.

“I just don’t like it,” she said again.

I thanked her and excused myself in rising. She stared toward Irving Place with an angry scowl.

I wanted to ask her if she was angry with men before they looked at her breasts, or after, but didn’t. I have my own theory of course, formed during a lifetime of receiving scowls and hostile, disgusted looks from (white) women, who dispense such looks even if I am only looking at their faces. I got these looks even when I was young, muscular, sexy I guess, and certainly much-better looking than I am now.

I say “white women,” because my life’s experience has been mostly with women of my own race, which is natural, because we like first the people and things we most-identify with. Few black, Latina, or other women of color have scowled at me for looking, and I look at them too, because I find most females of any race attractive. Of course there are some women who are pleased to have their attributes admired, who even smile when they notice you admiring them.

I wanted to suggest but didn’t that she might dress so in order to have a reason to express her disgust and anger at (white) men. I say “white men,” because I have seen women give me such a look, then a moment later smile fawningly and nearly grovel when a strange black man said something like, “Hey, baby, that’s a real nice ass you got there.”

You figure it out.

I’m working on it.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

There are plenty of women who love the attention...just keep looking and asking...you never know what a new day will bring...

Mike Havenar said...

Author's note: I wish I knew who this anonymous woman was...truemikeh@yahoo.com if you want to reveal yourself...

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