Today on the metro, a man in his 20s offered me his seat, and I thought “wow, do I really look that old?” When I offer up my seat, it is usually to an older person who is 60+or a pregnant woman. I was yawning on the way into the metro car, and I am sporting a bit of a spare tire these days, so perhaps the gentleman thought I was both tired and preggers. Also, I could have appeared 60+ to him. I know I am roughly 100 years old to some of my CEGEP students. Or, he may have simply been acting polite based solely on traditional gendered etiquette rules and regulations. This ‘analysis’ of course is completely biased and dependent on my interpretation of events. Factual data collected: He offered his seat in french, he had a suitcase, he was fairly insistent. I declined, and the seat remained empty until I got off of the metro 4 stops later. My pride prevented me from taking the seat. I did not “need” it. I was embarrassed and felt old. I wondered at what age or in what condition I would start to take the seat if and when it is offered again. I tried to see and decode the image of myself that was being reflected back to me from this man and it was blocked by the image I have of myself being seen by others.
<Read this, which was not my experience at all, but has me thinking a lot about misogyny, gender, etiquette, and both the Canadian and American war on women. It was the first article I read from facebook when I got home.>
Later this afternoon, a man in a red truck (this is where the 50-something analysis comes in) slowed down, said “Miss!” rather urgently, and I turned in response thinking he wanted directions. We are in the Plateau. His face broke into a smile, and he said, “Bonjour.”
Now, I’m sure this happens to other women fairly regularly in both positive and negative ways as demonstrated in the recommended link above, but this does not happen to me and did not happen to me before I started wearing animal print for this project. My gf wanted to know how old the Vanier car guy was (as he is now being referred) and suggested that the animal print was somehow a generational code that perhaps spoke to these men on some level. This theory dovetails quite nicely with my project about Cougars and their ‘uniform,’ so I am aware that our exploration of this idea is again, biased.
When we got home that evening, we drank some champagne to celebrate and mark the start of school and new projects for both of us and we took a few pictures. This is where our theory may come apart as perhaps it is not the animal print that is talking to men in their 40s and 50s as much as it is the cleavage. I had not noticed how cleavage-y this shirt was before. More research required. 266 more days to go, 100%.