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It makes an ASS out of U

I try not to use my LJ as a rant receptacle, but this needs airing. It's about people's assumptions.

I've made no secret (anywhere!) of my decision to start cycling. I hang my helmet on my cubicle wall, right above my "Bike Commute Challenge" poster, and today my front wheel was stood up in my in-box because I had to take it in at lunchtime and have it looked at. At work, I talk about road conditions, new challenges, the experience of joining the Portland cycling world, and my progress in terms of time and endurance and skill-building, pretty much the same as on LJ.

So today at about 4:30, knowing I had two more hours of work in front of me, I ran down to the little store and came back up with a Haagen Dazs coffee almond crunch ice cream bar. My cubicle-colleague, on beholding my treat, said, "I see you've decided to undo all the health benefits of bike-riding."

I can't even begin to unravel everything that's wrong with that comment, but let me start by pointing out that it was uttered by a straight, skinny, college-educated white guy perhaps five to ten years my junior. Let's call him Norm, okay?

This comment is not the same as "Ooh, that looks yummy!" or "I love those things!" This comment is "Do you think you really should be eating that? YOU? THAT?"

The assumptions implicit in the comment are that "health benefits" equals "losing weight"; that I'm cycling for health reasons at all, and that the REAL health reason is weight loss; that one serving of good-quality ice cream has the power to "undo" health, that my bike-riding is a kind of lie unless I follow some standard path of health righteousness; that it's okay for him to even make such a personal comment; that he knows what my personal priorities are and that they are different from what I've said they are.

The only response I could think of was a mildly sarcastic, "Yeah, you know, Norm, I love it when people comment on what I eat."

Six hours later, I'm still annoyed.

Comments

serenity_valley
Sep. 23rd, 2009 06:55 am (UTC)
What a douche. I would still be annoyed about it, too, and for all the reasons you list. Fuck him.

I read some helpful advice awhile back after a similar situation (haven't we all experienced something like that, unfortunately?). The idea was that since the asker is the offender in such a breach of common courtesy, turning an inappropriate question back on the person can be an excellent way to make the point that, yanno, their ass might be showing. That is, something like, "Why would you think that was an appropriate thing to say to me?" The important thing is not to be challenging or aggressive about it, but in a querying tone, as if genuinely bewildered. Pick your battles, yada yada, but in the instances where I felt like taking the opportunity to put that advice to use, it worked quite well.

Sorry, dear. That guy was an ass and yay for you that you know it was all him and not you. Also: ice cream!
emeraldsedai
Sep. 23rd, 2009 04:14 pm (UTC)
At the end of the day, I think "And ice cream!" was the key point of the whole thing.

I realize in reading your suggestion that I actually came within range of that type of response with the one that actually occurred to me--a lot closer than I've come in the past, anyway.

Our conversation on Friday about challenging the position of privilege must have really gone into my mind! \o/
serenity_valley
Sep. 23rd, 2009 04:54 pm (UTC)
At the end of the day, I think "And ice cream!" was the key point of the whole thing.

Isn't it always?

I realize in reading your suggestion that I actually came within range of that type of response with the one that actually occurred to me--a lot closer than I've come in the past, anyway.

Agreed. You didn't try to justify yourself or your actions or explain yourself or your reasons to him, and that's a victory, imo. Put the responsibility for the fuckwittedness where it belonged: with the fuckwit. Win!

Our conversation on Friday about challenging the position of privilege must have really gone into my mind! \o/

Excellent! Although your inherent awesomeness must also be factored in....
emeraldsedai
Sep. 23rd, 2009 07:15 pm (UTC)
Oh hey, can you remind me of the website we discussed on Friday where all the inappropriate comments from privilege are listed? I want to spread it around.
serenity_valley
Sep. 23rd, 2009 07:19 pm (UTC)
Sure! It's "Derailing for Dummies: Making Discrimination Easier!"
http://www.derailingfordummies.com/
emeraldsedai
Sep. 23rd, 2009 07:43 pm (UTC)
Thanks. That's a wonderful resource!

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