Stepping up

So, today Steve and I went up to Bangor to attend the ACLU’s Active Bystander’s Intervention training session.

It was an interesting workshop, and worth doing, if the ACLU in your area is participating.  I learned some de-escalation tricks that are probably more appropriate for a purple-haired woman of a Certain Age, and was reminded to be mindful of what I bring to any situation — such as being a white woman of a Certain Age, and the fact that I often these days have my cellphone, with its camera, close at hand.

I also learned that remarkably little things can make a difference to someone who is being harassed.

One funny thing:  We were doing practice sessions in groups — each group given a situation that had occurred in Maine, and we would discuss how best to handle the situation.  One of the two scenarios given to my group was this:

A person is in the bathroom washing their hands.  Another user yells at them, “Hey, dude! this is the woman’s bathroom,” and follows up with, “You don’t belong in here!”

Now, because I was for most of my life “man-tall” (6 foot), and often wearing gender-free clothing, such as jeans and flannel shirt, and had short hair, I was — and am — very often mistaken for a man.  Especially in the ladies room.  And I have been yelled at any number of times for being in the wrong bathroom (yes, going back decades), and no one every intervened.  It didn’t occur to me that anyone should. I would say something along the lines of, “This is the woman’s bathroom, and I’m a woman,” and try not to laugh when their chin hit the floor.

In fact, it was only recently — I was in the ladies room in Lowe’s in Augusta, and another user told me to use my own bathroom.  A woman who was washing her hands near us finished up, but stayed in the room.  I gave my stock reply, and my critic quickly left the scene.

The woman who had waited said, “I can’t believe she said that.  Are you OK?”

I thanked her, said it happened all the time, and I was more or less used to it.  But it gave me a nice glow, just the same; knowing that someone had cared enough to wait what could have been A Scene out, and then to ask if I was OK.

So, that’s how I spent my Saturday, mostly.  After the training session, Steve and I went to Tesoro’s on Harlow Street in Bangor for a late lunch.  My lasagna was terrific, and Steve was very impressed with his veal.

On the way home, we stopped for ice cream at the Purple Cow, about which the less said, the better, and so eventually were received back into the care of cats, who wanted the windows opened NOW.

Tomorrow is a work day. . .and so it goes.

5 thoughts on “Stepping up”

  1. Young friend of mine was harassed in the bathroom on the state ferry. She flashed her tits at the older lady, who fled in embarrassment. Served her right, in my opinion.

  2. Oh good. I’ll definitely look up that training, then. It’s unfortunate to need it in the 21st Century but forewarned and all that. The first plenary speaker at the women in astronomy conference I went to said that privilege is a refillable bucket and we should not hesitate to pour it out for others. That really stayed with me. I tried to figure out how she got away with presenting such really problematic material without offending most of the audience. My friend and HR boss pointed out Peggy works the little-old-white-lady-with-a-bun for all its worth. It’s more than that, though. I need to study a video of her talk, I think. Her melant’i is pretty complex.

    I’m sorry about the ice cream place – I used to go through something similar as a kiddie in Thailand, where we had no air conditioning, especially in the car.

  3. I need to find a workshop like that within reach. I’ll look into it when I get these revisions finished. My natural reaction is more…confrontational…in Situations. And it has worked, on occasion, though probably not as well as it could have, when I was younger. And I’m now in the old category and rather obviously not a threat (and no longer mistaken for a guy since I’m so much heavier, some of it in places that pretty much say “female” to most people. Despite the jeans and shirts.) It sounds like a good training, though.

  4. The problem is that most people — and maybe especially people who are convinced that it’s their job to police the world? — Aren’t Very Observant. I, too, have gained weight and, um, curves. I am clearly not a guy to anybody who’s paying the least bit of attention, but they react to the height and the clothes and jump to the conclusion that here is someone who is a Menace to the Order of The Universe.

    Regarding the workshop — it was, as I said well worth doing. And I was impressed that the leaders took time to make the point that the guy who is being harassed in the elevator for wearing a Nazi t-shirt deserves an intervention just as much as the guy wearing the LGBT t-shirt.

  5. I didn’t know that there is training like this…something to seek out. A brief perusal of Google doesn’t show it in Virginia…but I will keep looking.

    Thanks for sharing.

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